Lord of the Rings: The Success


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Lord of the Rings was a popular book series that was turned into a movie franchise.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy, released from 2001 to 2003, was definitely a surprise to many for its high-quality movie effects throughout the series. It also proved to be a very popular movie series, as it earned almost three billion dollars in worldwide receipts and is one of the highest-grossing films ever. One of the many positive critiques was that it was, “ahead of its time for animations and movie tricks.” Even now, with the movie industry learning new ways to create visual effects, the trilogy’s animations are better than most.

Almost eighty-five years ago, author J.R.R. Tolkien published a book that caught the world by surprise; it was different from books of the time; the New York Times even called it “freshly original and delightfully imaginative.” This book was called The Hobbit – not The Lord of the Rings. Surprisingly, the movies didn’t come out in the same order that the books were published. The Hobbit came first in 1937, then the Lord of the Rings books came out. Originally, the entire story was intended to be one book with six parts, but due to paper shortages post-war, it was split into three books – The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King, with two parts in each. The six parts in the Lord of the Rings are, The Ring Sets Out, The Ring Goes South, The Treason of Isengard, The Ring Goes East, The War of the Ring, and The End of the Third Age.

When deciding to make the movies, the director and many other contributors agreed that The Lord of the Rings trilogy movies would do much better than The Hobbit as a movie, which they thought was “a 300 page, fairly simple and unconventional children’s story.” They were right, since the series gained almost three times as much money than The Hobbit. The Lord of the Rings movies were also nominated for thirty Academy Awards and walked away with seventeen of them. Although the three Hobbit movies did earn about 1 billion dollars in the box office, it was still a disappointment and nowhere as impressive as The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It was unnecessarily stretched into three movies, and even though denied by the producers, people still believe that the decision was made with money as a factor.

One of the main reasons for the Lord of the Ring’s success was the mix of movie tricks and a bit of CGI (computer-generated imagery) that complimented each other perfectly. The movies had multiple characters with varieties of heights – Frodo, the main character being very short, and Gandolf, another important character being incredibly tall – which meant that they would have to make regular sized people look abnormally large or small. A typical way that the camera crew solved this was to use forced perspective. Forced perspective is where actors are strategically placed, in this case, to look tall or short. If they needed to do a scene with Gandolf and Frodo, one common trick was for the actor that played Frodo to be behind the actor that played Gandalf, making it seem like Gandalf was way taller than in reality. Or, one example from the movie specifically was at a pub, and to make it look like Frodo and his friends were really small, the counter was made extremely large to put in a forced perspective. Another difference between the trilogies and movies made today is the amount of CGI that went into the making. And although CGI is very helpful for creating unrealistic images, viewers can usually tell when it’s fake because computer-generated features do not actually look real. For The Lord of the Rings, though, they created real sets when possible to create an effect that felt more real, but they did use CGI for the situations where they could not have used forced perspective or other tricks. 

All in all, it’s obvious that the Lord of the Rings trilogy was a huge success, and multiple components played into this. That includes the popularity of the books, The Hobbit which came out in 1937, and the Lord of the Rings series, that came out in 1945 to 1955. The right blend of movie tricks and CGI also created a more realistic feeling which definitely helped with their popularity.