We thought you would want to know about a major research project that is accompanying the release of The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. In twenty countries across the world, researchers are collaborating in a study of audience responses to the film. We will be finding out about people’s enjoyment of it and, in particular, we will be exploring what this ‘fantasy story’ means to whole generations of film-goers and readers of the books. Where is Middle-earth? What does it mean to people today?

We ourselves admire The Lord of the Rings. We know the books, and like many other people we were excited when we heard that they were being made into a trilogy of films. For many, it has been a remarkable set of films. But … in what way remarkable? What is so powerful about it, for you? From reading reviews, seeing discussions, hearing conversations, we know that people have some pretty different ideas. Some people have loved all three movies and some have had reservations. We want to understand why.

This will be the biggest audience study ever undertaken, and is a unique opportunity for lovers of the books and the films to get their views heard. At its centre is a web questionnaire, available in thirteen different languages (English, Russian, Norwegian, German, Greek, Turkish, Slovenian, Spanish, Italian, Danish, French, Chinese and Welsh) that anyone can fill in. We are expecting over 100,000 responses from across the world. Here’s the web address:


The questionnaire is now online, and we very much hope that you will pay the site a visit and give us your views. Be there, to be counted! And, if you can, let others know too!

With many thanks,

Martin Barker
Director, Lord of the Rings research project
University of Wales, Aberystwyth, UK.