The Lord of the Rings:
The Return of the King

Release Date: December 17, 2003

Hey, Gandalf, whatcha got in that pipe?

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Some of these aren't exactly rocket science.

If you haven't heard of the Lord of the Rings films by this time, you must be Amish (and if that's the case, how are you reading this in the first place?). The first film in the series, The Fellowship of the Ring, sits at number twelve on the list of all-time domestic earners and seventh for worldwide totals as of this date (October 31, 2003). Six months after it was first released, FotR was still playing in over 200 theaters and generating decent income each week. Considering the fact that all three movies were made on a budget of $190 million, the two sequels could make $0 and New Line would still have been very solidly in the black.

Then, The Two Towers, exceeded its predecessor's numbers. It is seventh place all-time in domestic box office and fourth in worldwide receipts. Plus, with the recent DVD release of the film, fanboys have had their appetites whetted even more for the final act of this trilogy.

Thus, by the time the closing chapter of the story is set to hit theaters, anticipation for the big finale is likely to be at nearly a fever pitch. In the interest of avoiding spoilers, I won't reveal much about the plot other than to say that we'll see the ultimate battle, as the good guys try to keep Sauron from destroying Middle Earth. Since the three movies were shot simultaneously over a span of 20 months, character continuity is a constant and the hope would be that an effortless flow will exist as the story transitions from installment to installment. With all of the same talent returning from film to film, additional awards nominations are a virtual certainty, and the saga will likely be fondly remembered as a true classic with the passage of time.

By the time it's all said and done, The Lord of the Rings series stands to make in the area of $1 billion at the domestic box office, so it's pretty obvious that New Line execs probably think hobbits are the greatest literary invention ever. Once overseas earnings (likely to be in the $2 billion range) and video revenues are added to the equation, Frodo Baggins and his friends will be solidly entrenched as genuine pop-culture icons. (Kim Hollis/BOP)

October 31, 2003
And now let's ignore the numbers for a minute and talk about the movie. After roughly six hours of cinema, the cast of characters is well-known and adored by the unwashed nerd masses. Even walking trees have popular figurines being sold on ebay. This cinematic anomaly is one for the ages, and we will still be hearing kids talk in awed tones about the trilogy a quarter century from now just like Star Wars obsessives used to do before Lucas screwed the pooch on The Phantom Menace.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is one of the most hallowed projects in the history of film, and that's not hyperbole. The first two pieces of this trilogy have made almost $1.8 billion in ticket sales alone with another ten dump trucks full of money filled up with DVD sales...well, 20 dump trucks if you count the fact that Peter Jackson keeps jerking the fanboys around with UltraSuperExtended Edition DVD sets a couple of months after the ordinary discs are released. The man has some savvy.

Anyway, the point is that these films are making the type of bank generally reserved for Bill Gates and LeBron James. And if that financial reward isn't enough, both parts have received a Best Picture nomination. This combination of box office and critical success is singularly unprecedented in modern cinema to the point that we have to go all the way back to Gone with the Wind to find a comparable phenomenon. All that's left to do is for the hobbits to walk down the red carpet, get into their limos and head to the Hollywood Walk of Fame to imprint their shoeless feet into the sidewalk of celebrity immortality.

Oh yeah...and hopefully deliver a finale worthy of the most successful trilogy in the history of film. (David Mumpower/BOP)

Vital statistics for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Main Cast Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Viggo Mortensen, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Ian McKellen, Ian Holm, Orlando Bloom, Liv Tyler, Christopher Lee, Cate Blanchett, John Rhys-Davies
Supporting Cast Bernard Hill, Brad Dourif, Miranda Otto, Karl Urban, John Noble, David Wenham, Alexandra Astin, Andy Serkis
Director Peter Jackson
Screenwriter Phillipa Boyens, Peter Jackson, Stephen Sinclair, Frances Walsh, based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkein
Distributor New Line Cinema
Trailer Click Here for Trailer
Official Site
Rating PG-13
Running Time 201 minutes
Screen Count 3,703
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture

Comparison films for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Adjusted Opening
Total BO
Adjusted Total
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone 11/16/0190.29 96.36 3672 24590.00 25242.8 317.56 338.93 3.52
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets 11/15/0288.36 91.86 3682 23997.00 23997.0 261.99 272.39 2.97
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones 5/17/0280.03 83.20 3161 25317.00 25317.0 310.67 323.00 3.51
Lost World, The 5/23/9772.13 94.75 3281 21984.00 27779.3 229.09 300.95 2.51
Star Wars: Episode I -The Phantom Menace 5/21/9964.81 77.23 2970 21822.00 24914.9 431.07 513.70 6.01
Lord of the Rings, The: The Two Towers 12/20/0261.50 63.94 3622 16980.00 16980.0 340.48 353.99 4.89
Lord of the Rings, The: The Fellowship of the Ring 12/21/0147.21 50.38 3359 14055.00 14428.1 313.84 334.96 6.06
Star Wars: SE 1/31/9735.91 47.17 2104 17067.00 21566.1 138.21 181.56 3.85



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