The Lord of the Rings film trilogy consists of three fantasy-adventure films: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Two Towers (2002) and The Return of the King (2003). The trilogy is based on the three-volume book The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. While they follow the book's general storyline, the films also feature some additions to and deviations from the source material.
Set in the fictional world of Middle-earth, the three films follow the hobbit Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) as he and a Fellowship embark on a quest to destroy the One Ring, and thus ensure the destruction of its maker, the Dark Lord Sauron. The Fellowship becomes divided and Frodo continues the quest together with his loyal companion Sam (Sean Astin) and the treacherous Gollum (Andy Serkis). Meanwhile, the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and Aragorn(Viggo Mortensen), heir in exile to the throne of Gondor, unite and rally the Free Peoples of Middle-earth, who are ultimately victorious in the War of the Ring.
The films were directed by Peter Jackson and distributed by New Line Cinema. Considered to be one of the biggest and most ambitious movie projects ever undertaken, with an overall budget of $285 million, the entire project took eight years, with the filming for all three films done simultaneously and entirely in Jackson's native New Zealand. Each film in the trilogy also had Special Extended Editions, released on DVD a year after the theatrical releases.
The trilogy was a great financial success, with the films collectively being the fourth highest-grossing film series of all-time (behind Harry Potter, James Bond and Star Wars). The films were critically acclaimed, winning 17 out of 30 Academy Awards nominated in total, and received wide praise for the cast and for the innovative practical and digital special effects.