The man who made Gollum the most exciting, compelling character in the Rings movies has signed on to reprise the role in The Hobbit movies. According to Deadline, both Andy Serkis and Cate Blanchett have locked down their deals. Meanwhile, Ian McKellen is still negotiating his contract to return as Gandalf. More surprisingly, the same story indicates that Christopher Lee and Ian Holm are wanted to return to their roles of Saruman and “old” Bilbo.
Further clues there (not that I can decipher them, necessarily) to Peter Jackson’s leaps of adaptation.
UPDATE: The Hollywood Reporter have it that McKellen has inked his deal too. They give February 14th – Valentine’s day for some of us, Paul day for others – as the start date for production.