The early word from those who have seen The Fellowship of the Ring, the 3-hour first installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, is very positive. Writing in Newsweek, which included a major feature on the making of the film, reviewer David Ansen characterized Peter Jackson's film as having 'real passion, real emotion, real terror.' Todd McCarthy of Variety opined that the film 'looks to please the book's legions of fans with its imaginatively scrupulous rendering of the tome's characters and worlds on the screen, as well as the uninitiated with its uninterrupted flow of incident and spectacle.' David Hunter of The Hollywood Reporter was even more positive, noting that the film 'should conjure up a worldwide box office bonanza,' and that the first installment is ' so well-made and well-cast that one can have no reservations about the rest of Jackson's monumental creation' (the entire trilogy was shot at one time, but the second and third installments will be released in 2002 and 2003). If all the predictions and kudos ring true when the first of the three LOTR films debuts on December 19, pop culture retailers, who have shown a much greater interest in LOTR than they have in Harry Potter (see 'Retailers Wary of Harry'), should be very pleased.
Hollywood pundits have been wondering how LOTR would fare following the stunning success of Harry Potter (see 'Harry Potter Breaks All Records'). Will the mass audience's taste for fantasy be sated by Harry, or will the success of the Harry Potter film carry over and provide increased acceptance of another meticulously faithful adaptation of a the first book in a series of popular fantasy novels? Judging from how critics and test audiences have reacted to The Fellowship of the Ring so far, it appears that New Line Cinema could well have a mega hit on its hands (though The Fellowship's three-hour running time will make it difficult for the film to match Harry Potter's sterling B.O. numbers). Pop culture retailers could well share in the bounty thanks to a plethora of LOTR merchandise that includes the books themselves (see 'LOTR Books Selling Now'), trading cards from Topps (see 'ToyBiz') a number of board and card games (see 'Decipher Adds LOTR RPG,' and 'Fantasy Flight Gets LOTR'), collector-oriented toys from Sideshow (see 'Second Series of LOTR Toys From Sideshow'), and a less expensive mass market line from ToyBiz (see 'ToyBiz Gets Rings').