This may be old news, but it was news to me. The Hobbit will be not just one movie, but TWO movies, as reported in this Empire article:
We spoke exclusively to both Del Toro and Jackson for our birthday issue, and they told us the latest, which is…
“We’ve decided to have The Hobbit span the two movies, including the White Council and the comings and goings of Gandalf to Dol Guldur,” says Del Toro.
“We decided it would be a mistake to try to cram everything into one movie,” adds Jackson. “The essential brief was to do The Hobbit, and it allows us to make The Hobbit in a little more style, if you like, of the [LOTR] trilogy.”
So there you go. The second film will not, as had previously been suggested, a film that will bridge the 60-year gap between The Hobbit and the start of Fellowship Of The Ring.
The one thing that will make me completely flip is if they bring back Ian McKellan as Gandalf (a cameo of Orlando Bloom as the ageless Legolas in the battle of five armies would be cool too).