Martin-Freeman-in-The-Hobbit-The-Desolation-of-SmaugThe Hobbit: An Unexpected is set to hit theatres next weekend, and things couldn’t be looking much better for Peter Jackson’s return to Middle-earth.

The film kicks off a new trilogy, adapting the original novel by J.R.R. Tolkien, with the second and third instalments coming in 2013 and 2014.

Yesterday brought with it our first look at The Hobbit: There and Back Again, the final instalment in the trilogy. And now EW have debuted the first image from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the middle entry in the new films.

““The dragon is a huge, wonderful, amazing part of the story, but it doesn’t end there,” says screenwriter and producer Philippa Boyens. “Everyone can suspect there’s a rather large battle in film three.””

With more filming still to go in the New Year, the cast for the second and third films remains a little uncertain, but we can be sure that Martin Freeman will be once more leading the charge as Bilbo Baggins. And starring alongside him should be Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Andy Serkis, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Benedict Cumberbatch, Elijah Wood, Orlando Bloom, Luke Evans, Evangeline Lilly, Bret McKenzie, Stephen Frey, Sylvester McCoy, Billy Connolly, Ian Holm, John Callen, Adam Brown, Jed Brophy, Aidan Turner, Peter Hambleton, Graham McTavish, Dean O’Gorman, Mark Hadlow, Ken Stott, Stephen Hunter, James Nesbitt, and William Kirchner.

An impressive ensemble, to say the least.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug will be released on 13th December, 2013. Kicking things off next weekend will be The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which reaches UK cinemas on 13th December and US cinemas on 14th December. And finishing things off will be The Hobbit: There and Back Again, concluding as a summer blockbuster on 18th July, 2014. For now, here’s our great first look at Freeman in the second film. Enjoy.