Warner Bros., MGM cast thesps in Peter Jackson tentpole

James Nesbitt and Adam Brown have joined the cast of “The Hobbit,” set to begin shooting in February as a two-part tentpole.

Nesbit (“Millions”) will play Bofur, described by the producers as “a disarmingly forthright, funny and occasionally brave Dwarf. Brown will play Ori, another of the pic’s Dwarf Company.

Warner Bros., New Line and MGM made the announcement late Monday. They had announced Martin Freeman as Bilbo two weeks ago along with Richard Armitage, Aidan Turner, Rob Kazinsky, Graham McTavish, John Callen, Stephen Hunter, Mark Hadlow and Peter Hambleton.

Release dates are set for December, 2012 and December, 2013 with New Line and MGM co-producing, New Line managing production, Warner Bros. handling domestic distribution and MGM distributing internationally.

Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Carolynne Cunningham are producing the films, with Phillipa Boyens serving as co-producer and Ken Kamins executive producing. Jackson is also directing.

Jackson, Walsh and Cunningham produced the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

New Line, MGM and Warner Bros. (parent of New Line) agreed three years ago to join up on a bigscreen version of J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic fantasy novel about the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, who obtains the ring that was the centerpiece of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy of books and films.

The studios reached a settlement agreement last week with the New Zealand government, which agreed to change its labor laws and sweeten production incentives in exchage for keeping “The Hobbit” in New Zealand.

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