Lord of the box office
December 17, 2003
By Jeff Munson
Tribune city editor
Chris Lehmann remembers being introduced to J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” series when he was 15. Lehmann found the epic journey of Hobbit Frodo a spellbinding page-turner. Seventeen years later, the South Shore cigar shop clerk found himself the first person in line to see how his favorite book translated onto celluloid.
“When I was a teenager I used to think, ‘I wonder what this would look like as a movie,'” said Lehmann, in line at Wallace Theaters for the Wednesday 12:01 a.m. showing of “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.”
Advanced tickets have been sold through the weekend, Wallace officials confirmed. The third and final installment of the “Lord of the Rings” series is anticipated to break most holiday movie records.
“We’ve had tremendous interest in the film judging by the hits on our Web site,” said David Lyons, vice president of marketing and advertising for Wallace.
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In the last installment, Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin) continue to approach Mount Doom to destroy the One Ring that will bring an end to the Dark Lords’ reign. Unaware of the path they are being led on, they endure battles, including the last war against what has become known as Middle Earth.
Like “Star Wars” and “Harry Potter” films, the “Lord of the Rings” series has a cult-like following, although most don’t dress up. Most fans are in their late teens to early 30s who have read the books, Lyons said.
Travis Gerrard, 20, read two of the three books before they were made into movies and has seen the first two movies about 100 times.
“I loved the books. It gave you the imagination and the wonder. With the movies, (Director) Peter Jackson turns what you imagined as you were reading into something real,” the South Shore man said.
Others like Ken Course said the allure to the series rests in an underlying value in our culture – overcoming adversity.
“It is not a super action ‘Matrix’ movie. What it does is take you on a journey that gets darker and darker; and that to get the best things you have to overcome the worst,” he said.
Roni Davis of South Lake Tahoe has a unique fondness for the series. In 2001 she was the winner of an AOL contest where she was flown to a world premiere of the first movie in Wellington, New Zealand. All three movies were made there.
“It’s a great story. They’ve done a really great job holding to the books as closely as they could, cramming them into 10 hours of movie,” Davis said. “I almost don’t want the story to end.”
She bought advance tickets for the Friday evening show.