In the meantime, in a recent interview on BBC Radio’s Simon Mayo Show, del Toro has already taken the initiative to reveal some news:
Firstly, del Toro had what could be considered somewhat of a casting scoop. (Even though we’ve pretty much carried on the past years "knowing" it was going to happen.) Andy Serkis will return as Gollum, Ian McKellen will return as Gandalf, and Hugo Weaving will return as Elrond, all reprising their Lord of the Rings trilogy roles. Again, most any given fan would likely have never even thought that they would NOT return. However, it’s still a warm and fuzzy feeling to at least get that little bit of news, straight from the horse’s mouth.
Secondly, the film will take some liberties with sub-plot material that is briefly discussed in the book. Most notably among this, is Gandalf’s departure from Bilbo and the Dwarves to confer with The White Council in Dol Guldur on dealing with an entity called the Necromancer (which later turns out to be Sauron himself.) We’ve always suspected this based on some statements, but this time, the intention to document Gandalf’s quest (which is not covered greatly in the book) was articulated clearly. This is an excellent move, and should make the "Hobbit to Lord of the Rings" transition seem all the more smooth. Hopefully, it will be done in such a way that even casual audiences will be able to make the connection.
Finally, regarding Smaug the Dragon, del Toro revealed that after eight whole months of design work, they have only just “cracked the basic engineering.” It is anticipated that another six or seven months of application will be needed before the great flying, fire-breathing, gold smuggler will be in any kind of presentable form. (Holy crap, he should look AMAZING!)
The Hobbit is going to rule, plain and simple. I have no reservations with flying the fanboy flag like that. Until then, if things don’t work out with Andy Serkis and Gollum, I think a short-term deal might be able to worked out with a current resident of North Kern State Prison in Delano, California. (Hint: He went over Paul McCartney’s head and added an orchestra to "The Long and Winding Road.")