London world premiere for Tolkien's tale

Review by Jack Foley

HARRY Potter has only just begun to cast his spell on UK audiences but is already looking over his shoulder in the battle for Box Office supremacy.

On the very week that Potter and friends are due to take cinemas by storm, the movie's great rival - The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - has given cinema-goers something else to think about - and looks set to conjure its own magic at the cash registers.

It has been announced that the World Premiere of the first instalment of Peter Jackson's eagerly anticipated trilogy will take place at the Odeon Leicester Square, on Monday, December 10th, 2001, before officially opening on Wednesday, December 19th - a radical departure from the usual Friday opening day in the UK. The move means that audiences in the capital will be able to see it from the same day that it opens in the US.

The three movies that make up The Lord of the Rings trilogy: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King, were shot consecutively, which has never been done in film-making history.

Considered by millions to be the greatest fantasy-advanture story ever told, JRR Tolkien's tale chronicles the struggle between good and evil for possession of a magical ring that can shift the balance of power in the world. The trilogy will take viewers back to 'Middle Earth' and an era that pre-dates written history, where humans share an enchanted world with elves, wizards, hobbits, trolls, orcs and uruks.

In the Fellowship of the Ring, the shy young hobbit, Frodo Baggins (played by Elijah Wood) inherits the ring and on learning of its history and powers of corruption, assumes responsibility for returning it to Mordor, where it was forged, to destroy it. But with evil forces at every turn, Frodo must rely on his courage and that of his friends and the warriors accompanying him, to avoid capture by Sauron, the Dark Lord, his army of orcs and ringwraiths and the evil wizard, Saruman (Christopher Lee).

Assisted by Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellen), Arwen (Liv Tyler) and Elf Queen, Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), the success of the Fellowship will determine the course of history and the future of Middle Earth.

The movie co-stars Ian Holm, as Bilbo Baggins; Sean Astin (as Sam); Sean Bean (Boromir); Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn) and John Rhys-Davies (as Gimli). It will be followed by The Two Towers, in December 2002, and the final instalment, The Return of the King, in December 2003.

So that's the next three Christmas's at the movies taken care of, then...