The Lord of the Rings is an epic film trilogy consisting of three fantasy adventure films based on the three-volume book of the same name by English author J. R. R. Tolkien. The films are, by subtitle, The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Two Towers (2002) and The Return of the King (2003). The films were directed by Peter Jackson and distributed by New Line Cinema. Considered to be one of the biggest and most ambitious movie projects ever undertaken, with an overall budget of $285 million, the entire project took eight years, with the filming for all three films done simultaneously and entirely in Jackson's native New Zealand. Each film in the trilogy also had Special Extended Editions, released on DVD a year after the theatrical releases. While the films follow the book's general storyline, they do omit some of the plot elements from the novel and include some additions to and other deviations from the source material. Set in the fictional world of Middle-earth, the three films follow the hobbit Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) as he and a Fellowship embark on a quest to destroy the One Ring, and thus ensure the destruction of its maker, the Dark Lord Sauron. The Fellowship becomes divided and Frodo continues the quest together with his loyal companion Sam (Sean Astin) and the treacherous Gollum (Andy Serkis). Meanwhile, Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), heir in exile to the throne of Gondor, and the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) unite and rally the Free Peoples of Middle-earth, who are ultimately victorious in the War of the Ring. The trilogy was a great financial success, with the films collectively being the sixth highest-grossing film series of all time (behind Harry Potter, James Bond, Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Shrek). The films were critically acclaimed and heavily awarded, winning 17 out of 30 Academy Awards nominated in total. The final film in the trilogy, The Return of the King, won all 11 of the Academy Awards for which it was nominated, tying it with Ben-Hur and Titanic for most Academy Awards received for a film. The trilogy received wide praise for its innovative special and visual effects. A two-part prequel based on Tolkien's 1937 novel The Hobbit, is currently in production, slated for release in 2012 and 2013.
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