Peter Jackson's long-awaited first film installment of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit" hits theaters midnight Friday with "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey."

The movie kicks off a trilogy starring Martin Freeman as the hobbit of the title, Bilbo Baggins, and Ian McKellan returns as the wizard Gandalf. Other familiar faces from the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy include Orlando Bloom as Legolas and Andy Serkis as Gollum. New characters from "The Hobbit" include the dwarf Thorin Oakenshield, played by Richard Armitage. He is joined by his company of 12 other dwarves as they seek to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from the dragon Smaug.

The movie is also notable because it will use a 48 frames per second, double the industry standard, which creates crisp picture but might be jarring for audiences at first.

Not all theaters have the full capability for 48 fps, but there's a list of those that do. You can also watch sample videos that simulate the frame rate.

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Reviews

'The Hobbit' suffers from story bloat

'The Hobbit' a ponderous journey

'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' exceeds expectations

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Photo galleries

New York premiere

New Zealand premiere