Power Of The Ring Lords It Over Harry

by Sophie Tedmanson (Entertainment reporter)

HARRY Potter has cast a spell on modern children, but their parents are about to be swept away by the fantasy chronicle of their own youth, The Lord of the Rings.

The $300 million movie version of the JRR Tolkien classic is about to become the Star Wars of the new millennium and could usurp Harry at the box office.

The first film adapted from the trilogy, subtitled The Fellowship of the Ring and featuring the pointy-eared Hobbits, will be released on Boxing Day.

The Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson said Harry Potter had whetted the public’s appetite for fantasy films and Empire film magazine editor Chris Murray said the two films sat side by side.

Murray says the Rings trilogy will attract an older audience of different generations because of the longevity of the original novels, first published in the 1950s.

‘LOTR fans are extremely passionate and there’s probably three generations of people that read it waiting for the movie to come out, as opposed to Harry Potter, which is pretty much mothers and 12-year olds,’ he said.

Adelaide sci-fi writer Sean Williams, who has read the Harry Potter novels and The Lord of the Rings and seen the Star Wars series, said the trickle release of the trilogy films over the next three Christmas periods would give it a longer lifespan.

‘LOTR is a cultural icon that has the staying power Harry Potter may not have,’ Williams said. ‘There are generations of people who have been reading this trilogy, so there’s a lot of anticipation from people of all different ages.’

The main Tolkien website – TheOneRing.net – receives more than 200,000 hits a day and the local merchandise, including T-shirts, book coverings, puzzles, stationery and toys, has been available in shops for months. Some lines have already sold out.

Funtastic managing director David Hendy, who oversees the production of $30million LOTR toy merchandise in Australia, said it had been hugely popular in the lead-up to Christmas.

‘There’s a big culture-base with The Lord of the Rings, and most of the fantasy directors got their inspiration from Tolkien, so it’s really showing the strength of the brand,’ he said.