The Lord of the Rings (film series)

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"I shan't call it the end, till we've cleared up the mess." — Sam
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The name The Lord of the Rings refers to more than one character, item or concept. For a list of other meanings, see The Lord of the Rings (disambiguation).

The Lord of the Rings is a movie series consisting of three films. The Fellowship of the Ring , The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. All of these films are live-action, which were directed by Peter Jackson and they are based upon the books with the same name by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Principal photography for all three films took place in New Zealand over a continuous eighteen-month period — the first time that three films had ever been shot together in this way, although some pairs of films had. There were several later "pick-up" shoots over the following months and years as the films were edited, special effects were added and the script was honed and revised.

Differences from the book

The films for the most part follow the storyline of the book (see J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings); however there are some major deviations as detailed within the entry for each film.


Principal actors and actresses include:

Role Actor
Frodo Baggins Elijah Wood
Gandalf Ian McKellen
Aragorn Viggo Mortensen
Arwen Liv Tyler
Samwise Gamgee Sean Astin
Saruman Christopher Lee
Legolas Orlando Bloom
Gimli, voice of Treebeard John Rhys-Davies
Elrond Hugo Weaving
Galadriel Cate Blanchett
Meriadoc Brandybuck Dominic Monaghan
Peregrin Took Billy Boyd
Éowyn Miranda Otto
Éomer Karl Urban
Théoden Bernard Hill
Gríma Wormtongue Brad Dourif
Boromir Sean Bean
Faramir David Wenham
Denethor II John Noble
Gollum/Sméagol Andy Serkis

Facts and figures

  • Amount of film shot during production: Over 6 million feet (over 1,800 kilometers)
  • Swords, axes, shields and makeup prosthetics created: 48,000
  • Background actors cast: 20,602
  • Costumes produced by the wardrobe department: 19,000
  • New Zealand cricket fans enlisted to create the Orc army's grunts: 10,000
  • Behind-the-scenes crew members: 2,400 at the height of production
  • Pairs of prosthetic Hobbit feet created: 1,600
  • Most real horses in one scene: 250
  • Computer special-effects artists employed: 180
  • Total speaking roles: 114
  • Locations in New Zealand used as backdrops: 100
  • Tailors, cobblers, designers, et al. in the wardrobe department: 50
  • Actors trained to speak fictional dialects and languages: 30
  • Total years of development for all three films: 7
  • Combined running time of the series (extended DVD editions): 681 minutes (11 hours and 21 minutes)
  • Combined worldwide box-office gross: US$2,916,544,743[1]
  • International all-time box office rankings: 2 (Return of the King), 5 (Two Towers), 7 (Fellowship of the Ring)[2]

Academy Awards

If all three films are counted as one, the trilogy was nominated for 30 Academy Awards, of which it won 17.[3]

The Awards were as follows (A Win is marked by a "W"):

  • Art Direction [Fellowship, Two Towers, King (W)]
  • Cinematography [Fellowship (W)]
  • Costume Design [Fellowship, King (W)]
  • Directing [Fellowship, King (W)]
  • Film Editing [Fellowship, Two Towers, King (W)]
  • Makeup [Fellowship (W), King (W)]
  • Music (Original Score) [Fellowship (W), King (W)]
  • Music (Original Song) [Fellowship: "May It Be", King: "Into the West" (W)]
  • Best Picture [Fellowship, Two Towers, King (W)]
  • Sound [Fellowship, Two Towers]
  • Sound Editing [Two Towers]
  • Sound Mixing [King (W)]
  • Supporting Actor [Fellowship: Ian McKellen ("Gandalf")]
  • Visual Effects [Fellowship (W), Two Towers (W), King (W)]
  • Writing (Previously Produced or Published) [Fellowship, King (W)]


Miramax developed a full-fledged live-action adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, with Peter Jackson as director. Eventually, Miramax became uneasy with the sheer scope of the proposed project and wanted to combine the suggested two films into one. Peter Jackson struck a deal with Miramax that if he could not find a fresh studio to back the project, he would walk away and leave the rights and all the work so far completed with Miramax. However, in 1998, New Line Cinema assumed production responsibility, unexpectedly announcing that it would mount three, not just two films (while Miramax executives Bob Weinstein and Harvey Weinstein retained on-screen credits as executive film producers).

The three live action films (supplemented with extensive computer-generated imagery, for example in the major battle scenes, using the "Massive" software) were filmed simultaneously. Jackson filmed all the major scenes in his native New Zealand. The Fellowship of the Ring was released on December 19, 2001. The Two Towers was released on December 18, 2002 and The Return of the King was released worldwide on December 17, 2003. All three films won the Hugo Award for Best (Long-form) Dramatic Presentation in their respective years.

Although some have criticized these films because they have altered the story somewhat and, arguably, have a noticeably different tone from Tolkien's original vision, others have hailed them as remarkable achievements. Peter Jackson has defended his changes by stating that he views the films as merely one man's interpretation.

Peter Jackson's film adaptations garnered seventeen Oscars (four for The Fellowship of the Ring, two for The Two Towers, and eleven for The Return of the King). The Return of the King won all of the eleven awards for which it was nominated, including Best Picture -- it was the first film of the fantasy genre to do so. With 30 total nominations, the trilogy became the most-nominated in the Academy's history, surpassing the Godfather series' 28 nominations.

The Return of the King's Oscar sweep is widely seen as a proxy award for the entire trilogy. The Return of the King's 11 Oscars at the 2004 Academy Awards tied it for most awards won for one film with Titanic six years earlier and the 1959 version of Ben-Hur. It also broke the previous "sweep" record, beating Gigi and The Last Emperor.

The visual-effects work has been groundbreaking, particularly the creation of the emotionally versatile digital character Gollum. The scale of the production alone — three films shot and edited back to back over a period of little more than three years — is unprecedented.

The films have also proven to be substantial box office successes. The premiere of The Return of the King took place in Wellington, New Zealand, on December 1, 2003 and was surrounded by fan celebrations and official promotions (the production of the films having contributed significantly to the New Zealand economy). The movie earned $34.5 million on its opening day, making it the seventh-largest opening day for a film released on a Wednesday [4]. The Return of the King was also the second movie in history (after Titanic) to earn over 1 billion $US (worldwide).

Fanatics of the films have also flocked to the locations where the trilogy was filmed in New Zealand, with many tour companies being totally devoted to taking fans to and from the filming locations that Director Peter Jackson chose for the adaptation of Tolkien’s epic trilogy.

External links

See also


  1. He only worked on The Fellowship of the Ring.
  2. He only worked on The Fellowship of the Ring.
  3. He only worked on The Fellowship of the Ring.
  4. He only worked on The Two Towers.
  5. He is only crdited as editor on The Return of the King.
  6. The films' distribution rights were transferred to Warner Bros. Pictures in 2008.


Licensed screen adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien's works
Animation The Hobbit (1967) · The Hobbit (1977) · The Lord of the Rings (1978) · The Return of the King (1980) ·The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim (2024, upcoming)
Live-action The Lord of the Rings film series The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) · The Two Towers (2002) · The Return of the King (2003)
The Hobbit film series An Unexpected Journey (2012) · The Desolation of Smaug (2013) · The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)
Other films The Lord of the Rings: The Hunt for Gollum (2026, upcoming)
TV series Hobitit (1993) · The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (2022-present)

The Lord of the Rings film series
Source material: The Hobbit · The Lord of the Rings
Films The Fellowship of the Ring (extended editionThe Two Towers (extended edition) · The Return of the King (extended edition)
Music The Fellowship of the Ring (The Complete Recordings) · The Two Towers (The Complete Recordings) · The Return of the King (The Complete Recordings) · "May It Be" · "Gollum's Song" · "Into the West"
Tie-in books Official Movie Guide · The Making of the Movie Trilogy · Complete Visual Companion · Gollum: How We Made Movie Magic · There and Back Again: An Actor's Tale · Weapons and Warfare · The Art of The Lord of the Rings · Sketchbook
The Fellowship of the Ring Visual Companion · The Art of The Fellowship of the Ring
The Two Towers Visual Companion · Photo Guide · The Art of The Two Towers
The Return of the King Visual Companion · The Art of The Return of the King
Video games The Two Towers · The Return of the King · The Third Age · Tactics · Conquest · Aragorn's Quest · Lego The Lord of the Rings
Characters Frodo · Bilbo · Gandalf · Sam · Merry · Pippin · Gandalf · Aragorn · Boromir · Legolas · Gimli · Elrond · Galadriel · Théoden · Éomer · Éowyn · Saruman · Sauron · Witch-king · Denethor · Faramir · Gollum · Gríma · Treebeard · Celeborn · Haldir · Lurtz · Sharku · Grishnákh