A Pictorial History of the Movies: 2003 – The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

It took every fiber of my willpower to not make this entire trilogy the choices for 2001, 2002 and 2003. Because, to me, the Lord of the Rings was what defined 2001-2003. But I felt that wasn’t quite fair, and I’d run out of stuff to talk about, so I tried to think about it more objectively. And then I came up with just Fellowship and this one, which I thought wouldn’t have worked. So in the end, I felt it was best to just have one choice from the franchise, which meant all the honor, just like with the Oscars, fell upon this one. And this one reaped the benefits of what was achieved by the entire trilogy.

I mean, think about how ubiquitous these films were during that time. They were everywhere. They were all people talked about. They got millions of people to read the books for the first time. And even more to read them again. They got all of us invested in what used to be thought of as “fantasy” and “nerd” stories. (You know what I mean. The mainstream really never accepted this kind of realm in the past. Not the way these films told it.) They were huge deals. And despite only having three films, the franchise is one of the top ten highest grossing of all time. Those three films made a billion dollars in the US alone! I don’t see how at least one of the movies couldn’t make an appearance on this list.

It’s incredible how these films managed to just take over popular culture for a while. They somehow even managed to hit that perfect spot where they were not only popular with audiences, but (unlike the previous two films in this series), they managed to become serious Oscar contenders. Most people felt Fellowship would have been a shoo-in Best Picture winner if it weren’t for the fact that there were two more coming, and then they decided to just reward the trilogy when this one came out, which led to the clean sweep of this film at the Oscars, winning 13 out of 13 awards, and everyone thanking New Zealand. It’s a really remarkable achievement, and really is a perfect representation of just what the film landscape has become over the past 15 years. If you look at how the list changed after 2000, it just becomes franchise, franchise, franchise. That’s where Hollywood is now as an industry. Franchises. And then you’ll seen in a while, there’s a slight twist to that formula.

But, either way, I think we can all agree that, when you think about this time period in movie history, it’s impossible to not immediately think of Lord of the Rings, and the impact those films had, and how much those films meant to their respective years.

Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention that we have another feature on this blog, called Fun with Franchises, where my friend Colin and I watch movie franchises and then make fun of them/comment on them as we watch them. And it’s proven to be really fun and popular. And of course, this is one of the franchises we did (and may do again. Hint hint). You can check out Fun with Franchises here. Since this feature is about to end, and you’ve got nothing else going on. Plus you like to laugh. There’s really no reason to not read them.


One response

  1. Return of the King actually won “only” 11 Oscars, but it still performed a clean sleep, unlike Ben-Hur (12 nominations, 1 loss) and Titanic (14 nominations, 3 losses), which both won the same amount as Return of the King.

    November 18, 2014 at 3:30 pm

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