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The Hobbit nearing official greenlight + December 2012 release date and 3D?

The wait for the two-part Hobbit movie may finally be nearing an end. The LA Times is reporting that MGM, Warner Brothers and its subsidiary New Line Cinema, “appear to be close to greenlighting” the two-part ‘Lord of the Rings’ prequel The Hobbit.

As previously reported, writer/producer Peter Jackson will direct both installments:

The studios have nearly finalized a deal with director, producer and co-writer Peter Jackson to make the two movies and have resolved most other key issues that have long held up the project, including those related to underlying rights from the estate of author J.R.R. Tolkien.

The one remaining hurdle is getting an official go-ahead from MGM, which is set to co-finance the movies because under a long-standing agreement it owns half the rights and controls international distribution.

Filmed back-to-back, The Hobbit is expected to cost close to $500 million. The New York Times is also reporting that the greenlight is close, and they also add that the two films will be in 3D with a release date of December 19, 2012 for ‘Part 1’.