The Hobbit : An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit : There and Back Again release dates and an excellent "behind-the-scenes" / "making-of" video Hobbit blog.
The cast includes quite a few actors and characters from The Lord of the Rings, Ian McKellen makes a welcome return as Gandalf the Grey (would it have been possible without him ?!). Orlando Bloom is back (with his ballistic skill 10 bow) as Legolas; the awesome Christopher Lee returns as Saruman (not quite evil... just yet); the moody Hugo Weaving returns as an equally moody Elrond; Elijah Wood as Frodo (presumably with "young face-paint" applied and Cate Blanchett as the somewhat scary Galadriel, Lady of the Wood.
I'm looking forward to seeing Smaug the Dragon, the 3 arguing trolls (if memory serves me) and especially the battle of 5 armies. I'm not sure how this one will translate to film and whether it will be directed towards the same kind of audience. I personally found The Hobbit book quite different from The Lord of the Rings book. At the time of reading (many years ago), I found it a little bit disappointing but I did read it after LoTR and The Silmarillion which are unbeatable stories really.
A superb 10 minute look behind the scenes with Peter Jackson and other characters - well worth a watch.
"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit..."
2nd part of the video is not yet available (we're waiting for Peter Jackson !)