In 2001 Peter Jackson released Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, the first installment of the hugely anticipated Rings trilogy; this was followed by The Two Towers (2002) and finally The Return of the King (2003). The films were a critical and commercial success, grossing over $2 billion worldwide between them and becoming the highest grossing movie trilogy of all time.
Fast forward over a decade and the influence of The Lord of the Rings trilogy still echoes down the corridors of modern cinema and popular culture. Upon completion Peter Jackson’s ambitious adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkein’s classic novel(s) was unleashed on an unsuspecting public at the turn of the millennium and became the movie event that defined a generation.
Dubbed the ‘Star Wars of the Noughties’, The Lord of the Rings trilogy helped launch the careers of leading actor Elijah Wood and director Peter Jackson. The films perfectly captured the essence of the classic good vs evil story, where insurmountable odds are over-turned and good endures. All this is set against the breath-taking backdrop of the fictional Middle Earth, an epic sprawling fantasy world where the viewers imagination takes hold.
December 2012 will see Jackson’s return to the big screen at the helm of the eagerly awaited Rings follow-up The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first of a pre-Rings trilogy. There has been much discussion amongst fans and critics as to whether The Hobbit will match, or even surpass the success of its predecessor.
But What About The Hobbit?
On the one hand The Hobbit does have a big advantage. Rings, despite the popularity and cult-following of the books, came largely out of nowhere. There were no huge named stars or directors involved and New Line Cinema was a relatively modest independent studio at the time. The LOTR trilogy owes its success largely to itself, The Hobbit however has the hype and hyperbole from The Lord of the Rings to elevate it. A host of (now) big-named stars will appear in the film, including Orlando Bloom, Ian McKellen and Elijah Wood. Peter Jackson, now one of Hollywood’s most successful directors will direct and fan excitement has reached near breaking point.
For these reasons it is entirely possible that The Hobbit may have a more successful opening weekend, or even week than The Fellowship of the Ring. Furthermore, given inflated ticket prices and the current 3-D fad, it is even possible that An Unexpected Journey may eclipse the initial success of The Fellowship of the Ring.
Long-term however, it is improbable that The Hobbit will match the success of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. For one thing, the ill conceived notion of a trilogy could prove its undoing. Initially The Hobbit was planned as a two film experience, however the addition of a third movie could cause issues with the story lagging. Furthermore it is likely that due to The Hobbit being a single volume book it will not feel as epic as Rings and so its popularity may be considerably less.
Agree/disagree? Sound off in the comments.
This article was written in collaboration with AudioGo, suppliers of a large stock of BBC audiobooks, including The Hobbit audio book. Why not listen to the story in anticipation of the film’s release.