There once was a little hashtag looking for a cause. Over the past eleven days, #VoteBilbo became a lightning rod of attention and excitement among Ringer fans the world over. In the words of another reporter: “it went beyond viral.” A resounding victory was pulled off by the unlikeliest fandom — an unorthodox lovefest — for an unexpected little hero. Here’s the story of how TheOneRing.net galvanized a remarkable fan audience to achieve a sweet victory!
It started when this year’s MTV Movie Awards announced their vote-in contest for the category “Best Hero” — allowing Instagram and Twitter users to employ hashtags like #VoteIronMan or #VoteHulk — and especially of interest to this phenomenon #VoteBilbo. A few days actually went by without us even noticing there was a contest. Over Easter weekend the staff of TheOneRing.net was working to deliver a great presentation before packed crowds (many hundreds in the standing-room-only hall) at WonderCon, happening right on the tail of a very successful April Fool’s Day prank — so no wonder we were looking elsewhere.
TheOneRing.net first brought attention to the contest on April 3rd with this tweet:
We saw that Kristen Stewart’s character Snow White (from that hunky HUNTSMAN movie) had a stunning 13,556 votes, far more than the other nominees… while poor Mr. Baggins was in very last place with only 226 votes. A pathetic showing that would have me old Gaffer shaking his head in shame.
By using Twitter to muster our troops, within a mere 24 hours we saw a mighty surge of thousands of votes — yes THOUSANDS — and it kept going strong from there. We hit the Twitterverse so hard that #VoteBilbo started trending, everyone outside of our community actually picked up on it, K.Stew quickly lost her lead (causing her fanbase to respond), and thus “The Great Battle of the Fandoms” was in full swing.
We realized that TWILIGHT: BREAKING DAWN fans were supporting their chosen actress, *not* the character she portrayed, a bit of irony not lost on us. The category “Best Hero” did not really mean “Best Actress You’re A Fan Of From Another Franchise Because You Didn’t Really Watch This Movie.” Their rigorous support for the actress rather than the character made the whole contest a bit of a sham, in that context. Rather unfair, in this Ent’s personal opinion, that a true statement of how we regard our heroes was being skewed so badly. Undoubtedly Twi-hards have been a huge segment of MTV’s target audience, and plenty of naysayers told us that we didn’t have a chance to tip the scales. We were glad to have a challenge: a task to show what genuine fan-love of a heroic character really looks like, with numbers not seen since the Muster of Rohan!
The meteoric trending of #VoteBilbo caught everyone’s attention. Warner Bros. Pictures officially supported the effort with this missive from their Twitter account ‘TheHobbitMovie’ on April 5th, which spurred tens of thousands of new votes:
Our burglar, Bilbo Baggins, is nominated for Best Hero atthe 2013 MTV Movie
The other nominees were floundering: Batman and Catwoman were left in the dust of a deserted Gotham City as Bilbo VS. Snow White became a runaway viral showdown. But the numbers were not quite right. Certain fake Twitter accounts (spam-style “bots”) were discovered processing blank-except-for-the-hashtag #VoteSnowWhite tweets, but they were reported and shut down. Our support for Mr. Baggins was quite organic, and the funny thing was that votes were not coming from some hardcore group of Martin Freeman supporters, though they exist, but rather from Tolkien-lovers who really wanted to make a true statement about Bilbo Baggins.
April 6th proved to be a huge day! The media-watch group WHO TRENDED IT? posted this tweet on April 6th, giving TORn proper credit:
Guess what ! #votebilbo trending in the US ? @theoneringnet did it ! Now, that’s badass. Even as a cold hearted robot, I’m impressed.
Within his wonderful vote-tracker page we could see exactly what was going on, relative to the timing of our announcements on TheOneRing.net (and our Facebook timeline and Twitter, of course). When there was doubt our votes were less than stellar, we rallied again!
Stars from the LOTR Film Trilogy and even newer actors from THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY jumped on board! Their timing was perfect — and because these actors are actually paying attention to what fans are saying on Twitter, it felt like a genuine grassroots effort was brewing. We had tweets from Dominic Monaghan (Meriadoc Brandybuck) and Dean O’Gorman (the dwarf Fili) on the same day Evangeline Lilly (upcoming new character Tauriel) retweeted our comments — pleased as we were to ultimately learn that retweets counted as full votes!):
More ambitious creative folks within our Ringer ranks started posting videos designed to bring a smile to your face as well as playfully jab at Bella Swan — and MTV reported on it, realizing that the race was getting quite aggressive between the two camps. ‘If you liked it then you shoulda put a Ring on it’ had a whole new meaning with Speigel Ei’s Vimeo clip:
“HOBBIT fans went straight for the gut of Team #VoteSnowWhite,
who have to watch as several of the characters from Middle-earth court
Kristen Stewart to their side over Edward Cullen,” declared the MTV blog, and we realized this was indeed a chance to show our resplendent fandom in a unique way. The fact that we have been in love with Tolkien’s HOBBIT characters for 75 years since the book was first published supported the sky-high numbers of votes.
HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF VOTES POURED IN DAILY. When the final weekend of the Awards telecast began on April 13th, we broke 1 million votes. K.Stew voters were trying to keep up; sometimes we crossed above or below their high-end total. Fans started to create one-click Twitter vote buttons, and we supplied a host of #VOTEBILBO avatars and funny images to become viral memes. Fans started creating their own images (with familiar LOLcat fonts) and sharing them.
Our lovely lady friends Kili and Fili from our HAPPY HOBBIT video channel did a fun little P.S.A. style announcement asking Ringers to bring their votes to bear! We were really building momentum as a community. There was more spirited fun to be had with this contest than we first suspected!
Did we have crossover from other fantasy fans? You betcha! *wink* GAME OF THRONES featured our very own Sean Bean (Boromir) in the first season and of course it was appropriate for him to support his halfling friend.
We were not just sending empty or meaningless tweets with a hashtag in place — we wanted to make this relevant. In an effort to really bring our feelings and honest passion to the center stage, TORn decided to host a concentrated “Tweet Quest” on Sunday April 14th, the day of the MTV Movie Awards. During a tightly-concentrated 1-hour block, and then another encore 1-hour, we asked Ringers to declare why Bilbo should be named ‘Best Hero.’ So we put forward the call to arms.
Boy oh boy, did they respond with a flood of hobbity lovin’!
Fans declared things that mattered to us, that mattered to readers, and as lovers of Tolkien we could certainly relate: “#VoteBilbo because he was the one person who willingly let the Ring go, when no one else could,” was my personal favorite sentiment. We have an audience that included older-generation folks who had never used Twitter, so we gave quick and easy instructions to help guide our friends toward their goal. We provided everything we could — and most importantly we gave this effort true SPIRIT.
It was a phenomenal success. In the end the final tally was:
Giving our furry-footed reluctant adventurer a lead of well over 100,000 to claim the win! Although MTV broadcast the announcement of the winner as a throw-away commercial bumper for Axe body spray (indeed it was shown offstage, not really part of the “actual ceremony”), and although no cast member from THE HOBBIT film was present to receive the award, we here at TheOneRing.net were entirely thrilled to have succeeded with a kind of social networking wizardry that was fueled by you, dear readers.
Such a long way to go from only 226 votes! Such an outpouring of love!
One of our volunteer staffers, Magpie, had this to say: “It was like a flash mob. We did it for us (Wedefined as the greater Tolkien fan community with TORn functioning a major player in focusing that fan community). It was a community campaign that was an event in itself.”
Staffer Justin who produces our Live webcasts and our weekly show TORn TUESDAY had this to say: “Over 27,000 Bilbo pictures on
Instagram in one week! Take a look at all the comments and tweets we got, there is something for everyone to run with. Thank you all for making #votebilbo happen. I received several messages at the beginning saying I was ‘crazy’ and it was ‘Folly against Twi-hards,’ ‘Who cares about MTV,’ and ‘What’s the point of a stupid teenage online popularity contest?’ But this is why fans love being fans. Achieving something together. To Prove Their Quality.”
And that, my friends, is indeed the feeling I have at the end of the day. That we have stood up with a flag of unity once again. That we have proven our quality of thinking creatively and acting with great energy! It feels like it was months in the making but it happened over such a very short length of time (making it the more surprising).
The love that brings us together is our love of J.R.R. Tolkien and his works are evergreen. No separation of older to younger generations or access to technology can slant that. The truth will out!
Hulk sad. Too bad.
Batman gave up the ghost. Because we are the most.
Iron Man clad in shame. Shoulda played his own game.
Catwoman felt an itchy pox. Put kitty back in her smelly box.
Snow White drifted. Twi-hards were sifted (out).
But #BilbotheHero wins the day! We wouldn’t have it any other way.
Much too hasty,
Follow Cliff “Quickbeam” Broadway on Twitter: @quickbeam2000
With sincere apologies to our local and international online audience: there will not be a TORn TUESDAY live webcast today, as you’ve probably surmised by now. We return to the digital airwaves next week, Tuesday April 16th, at 5:00pm PDT. We are working on several surprising guest interviews and some other mischief you will all enjoy! This particular missed episode today was our chance to talk about the current fan-voting for the MTV Movie Awards BEST HERO category — an online showdown between K. Stewart’s Snow White and M. Freeman’s Bilbo Baggins, as two separate camps of fandom massively point and click to the tune of TENS OF THOUSANDS OF VOTES! This heated contest continues right now with every Tweet and Instagram post, right up until next Sunday’s broadcast of the Awards. Keep tweeting dear Ringer friends! Bilbo is currently ahead — but the armies of prepubescent Twi-hards are loathe to give up this public crowning of their dear Miss Homewrecker Stewart as “best hero” (which seems quite absurd since we know the real hero of that movie was actually the Huntsman, played with Asgardian might by Chris Hemsworth. But I digress… Until next Sunday keep up the Tweets with hashtag #VoteBilbo and we will surely win the day! See you next week Ringer faithful!
Louisville may have won the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament last night, but the only match-up that Middle-earth fans were watching was that between Thorin Oakenshield and Gandalf the Grey. After an initial significant lead, Thorin’s army of fans brought him back from the depths. These two popular Hobbit characters scraped and scrounged for every single vote resulting in an amazingly close final.
As promised, we carefully reviewed the voting process and as it turns out, we are pleased to report there was not a lot of significant over-voting. Any small adjustments made did not affect the final result. So without further delay, we are pleased to announce that the 2013 Middle-earth March Madness Champion is….
See the UPDATE below for final tallies and some additional notes on voting.
Gandalf had the early lead, but Thorin’s army has pulled him into a dramatic 50/50 split! Who will win the 2013 edition of Middle-earth March Madness? Your guess is as good as ours.
A note on voting. We implemented a single vote per user rule in the Elite Eight round. Behind the scenes, we can tell which users are abusing the system and voting much more than once. In all instances, those voters will have their votes stricken and counted only as a single vote. For this reason, we will not have a final result to share until Tuesday morning. Voting ends at 10pm ET tonight, so if you haven’t already voted in this classic match, place your vote today!
We’ve come to it at last. The final match-up of the 2013 Middle-earth March Madness is now set.
The finalists are Gandalf the Grey vs. Thorin Oakenshield.
Thorin’s story in this competition is one of significant achievement. He managed to handle some historic Middle-earth talent by off’ing Fingolfin, Beorn and Smaug. In the semi-finals, Thorin held off a Number 1 seed, Lady Galadriel, with 53% of the vote. He is now riding a wave of popularity into this final match-up with Gandalf.
Gandalf had a bit of a cake-walk in the early rounds of the Angmar Division, easily taking care of Arwen and Merry. He didn’t escape unscathed however. He had a bit more compeition when he faced Gollum and ultimately The One Ring, but he bested both foes. The semi-final match-up with Elrond seemed to be a simple road bump, easily beating the Lord of Rivendell with 80% of the vote.
Now we have a true ‘Hobbit’ final. Who will win? Will Thorin continue to defy the odds and best yet another great of Middle-earth? Will Gandalf finally put an end to Thorin’s streak? Will the Richard Armitage fans out-vote the Ian McKellen fans? So many questions – who will win?!
Voting for the Finals will end on Monday April 8th at 10pm ET. Vote now!
Welcome Ringer to the most innovative and fun live webcast this side of the River Bruinen! Our live show TORn TUESDAY, which starts in half an hour, features Clifford “Quickbeam” Broadway and special guest actor Matt Musgrove (who stormed the stage during our Oscar Party), covering all the recent news in the world of Tolkien fandom. We will revisit the wonderment of WonderCon from this past weekend, dish the dirt on the stunning DVD Hobbit sales this week, and offer a glimpse into the future of how dragons may appear (or not appear) in future advertising for THE HOBBIT Trilogy! You can pop into our Barliman’s Chat Room that is built-into our Live Event page here, bring your questions and comments during our webcast! The fun begins at 5:00pm Pacific Daylight Time (that’s in about half an hour, folks) right here – we’ll see you there! Follow Cliff on Twitter at @Quickbeam2000 and you can follow Matt at @MUSGROVIA
The Final Four combatants in the 2013 edition of Middle-earth March Madness are set! With thousands of votes cast in the last round, we can now announce the champions of each division….
The Shire Division
As the number one seed in The Shire, (1) Galadriel skated through the entire division easily handling Nori, Huan, Morgoth and now Luthien. Based on her popularity in these match-ups, she is going to be a tough one to beat in the Final Four.
The Erebor Division
The Lord of Rivendell, (6) Elrond, the lowest seed left in the tournament, had a tough second and third round to make it the division lead. But can Elrond handle his old friend Gandalf the Grey?
The Mordor Division
In a surprise victory, the third seed (3) Thorin Oakenshield took out number one seed (1) Smaug. It seems Thorin is still benefiting from the RA Army, but he now has his hands full with The Lady Galadriel. Thorin’s journey to the Final Four has been nothing short of miraculous, often causing most of the heated discussions in the comments of the entire tournament.
The Angmar Division
In a battle of top Angmar division seeds, (2) Gandalf took out early tournament favorite (1) The One Ring. It can be said Gandalf had an easy time dispatching his opponents to make it to the Final Four, but how will he fair against his friend Elrond?
Voting in the Final Four starts right now and will close on April 5th at 10pm ET!
Whether it was the photoshopped image of JRR Tolkien signing a document, many years after his passing, or the last line of this release, this was one of our 2013….
Global leader in high-quality family entertainment agrees to acquire world-renowned Middle-earth Enterprises, including THE LORD OF THE RINGS and THE HOBBIT franchises.
Acquisition continues Disney’s strategic focus on creating and monetizing the world’s best branded content, innovative technology and global growth to drive long-term shareholder value.
Middle-earth Enterprises to join company’s global portfolio of world class brands including Disney, ESPN, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and ABC.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN TO MIDDLE-EARTH feature animated film targeted for release in 2016.
Burbank, CA and Berkeley, CA, April 1, 2013 – Continuing its strategy of delivering exceptional creative content to audiences around the world, The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) has agreed to acquire Middle-earth Enterprises in a stock and cash transaction. Middle-earth Enterprises, formerly known as Tolkien Enterprises, is a division of The Saul Zaentz Company, headquartered in Berkeley, California.
Under the terms of the agreement, the transaction value is $10 billion (US). The final consideration will be subject to customary post-closing balance sheet adjustments.
“Middle-earth Enterprises reflects the extraordinary passion, vision, and storytelling of JRR Tolkien, the greatest author of the 20th century,” said Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company. “This transaction combines a world-class portfolio of content, with Disney’s unique and unparalleled creativity across multiple platforms, businesses, and markets to generate sustained growth and drive significant long-term value.”
The Eighth Sort-of-Annual Lord of the Rings Extended Edition Trilogy Marathon takes place today, staring 9am Eastern. Feel free to join us any time during the day – we’re happy to tell you what part of the movies we’re at.
People from around the world are online with one common goal: to virtually gather with other fans to watch all three films straight through. Geeky? Yes. Fun? Absolutely.
Please browse through our FAQ below, you’ll find the answers to many of your questions.
We’ve reached the Elite 8 line-up for Middle-earth March Madness 2013! 68,000 votes were cast in our last round which eliminated some big names in Middle-earth: Sauron, Gollum, Gwaihir, Beorn, Pippin and more! Our list of eight remaining combatants contain three members of the white council, two unlikely romantics, an inanimate object, and two of the main characters from The Hobbit.
Here are your Elite Eight Match-ups…
The Shire Division
So after all is said and done in The Shire, the battle comes down to (1) Galadriel vs. (6) Luthien. While Galadriel may be the more popularly known character, Luthien will give her a run for her money. This is a match-up of some of Middle-earth’s most powerful female characters!
The Erebor Division
Luthien’s lover (4) Beren, a mortal man, has his hands full facing battle-tested (6) Elrond. Elrond is hot off a significant victory over another star-crossed elf lover, Aragorn. But can Beren pull out the victory to give us one of the most memorable semi-finals of all time?!?
The Mordor Division
That gold hungry worm, (1) Smaug, managed to defeat the Dark Lord Sauron and will now face the flawed stubbornness of (3) Thorin Oakenshield. As this played out in ‘The Hobbit,’ Smaug handled the dwarves with ease, but will it happen again?!
The Angmar Division
As this reporter predicted, the number one seed (1) The One Ring has made it to the divisional final with a resounding victory. This inanimate object however has its hands full (wait, it has no hands…) as it faces off against one of Middle-earth’s most popular characters, (2) Gandalf the Grey. In this round we’ll finally see just who would conquer whom in this epic battle.
Voting starts right now and will run until April 1 at 10pm ET.
This site is maintained and updated by fans of The Lord of the Rings, and is in no way affiliated with Tolkien Enterprises or the Tolkien Estate. We in no way claim the artwork displayed to be our own. Copyrights and trademarks for the books, films, articles, and other promotional materials are held by their respective owners and their use is allowed under the fair use clause of the Copyright Law.