One would think that the look and tone of the Hobbit will resemble that of the movie trilogy, though the tone of the book is so much lighter than that of the LOTR, just because they kind of need to match, right? They've already got the creatures and the sets and the design for the whole franchize, yes? The movies are acting on us, the present-time audience, as a set, so they should match. Oh, but hang on...just thought of something...which was probably the idea of the person who started this line of discussion. The movies don't necessarily have to match in tone because The Hobbit CAN be the story As Told By Bilbo, emphasizing the Red Book as a travel journal or a book of memoirs and the notion of everything being told from Bilbo's perspective. By the time LOTR opens, Bilbo is already a well-traveled hobbit-of-the-world, and Frodo has benefitted from his stories for years, and so can be assumed to have some knowledge of the wider world, but when The Hobbit opens, Bilbo is an adventure virgin. Bilbo serves as our stand-in, having to have this world (and the ways of dwarves [crap, is it dwarves or dwarfs?] and elves and trolls and wizards and men) be explained to him. And frequent mention is made of his ambivalence towards adventures, wishing he could be at home in bed or sitting down to bacon and eggs and such instead of sleeping on this big tree root. You know, and a major theme is that of the journey and the danger of going out of your front door, never knowing what you will find out there, and the childishness of staying home vs. having wider experience. So they could make a big thematic deal out of the simple naive hobbity tone and tell it as a STORY with big leather book and pages that open and such in the opening, and then they could have the world be more chunky and wood-cut-ty.
I wasn't thinking that, though, when I began this post. I was thinking more about how The Hobbit is so dwarf-centered in that it's their idea, their mission, their history, their priorities, their foreign relations problems, etc. that drive the journey and its complications, and that to Bilbo, they are the first new culture he is being exposed to, so I thought maybe the Hobbit movie would be much more dwarf-centric in its art. We really didn't get much in the LOTR movies about dwarfs/dwarves except for Gimli, a few anonymous ones at the Council of Elrond, and then some dried-out specimens in Moria. Let the same artistic team go to town realizing the dwarf culture, and I'll bet it will influence the look of the Hobbit quite a lot. They can capitalize on that whole notion of a weapon or tool having a special history, skill in its making, succession of owners, special properties, and such, because dwarf/ves are so big into making and possessing. Side question: How are they going to handle 12 dwarfs/dwarves on a journey without making most of them seem anonymous or faceless?