Ralph Bakshi's THE LORD OF THE RINGS (1978) returns to the big screen in November!

Image for this story

This November, don't miss Ralph Bakshi's often overlooked and incredibly underrated 1978 animated gem, THE LORD OF THE RINGS, back on the big screen where it belongs – in celebration of its 45th Anniversary!⁠ GET TICKETS

Years before Peter Jackson took us on an epic thrill ride with his adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's high fantasy novels, The Lord of the Rings, it was the iconoclast of animation, Ralph Bakshi, who first brought the story to the big screen. Using a mix of traditional cel animation and rotoscoped live-action footage, Bakshi, with his 1978 classic, THE LORD OF THE RINGS, was not only successful in capturing the real essence of Tolkien's work, but the film was nominated for many awards, and was a moderate success at the box office.

Prior to Bakshi's film, many attempted to bring Tolkien's work to the big screen. British filmmaker John Boorman looked to adapt the series, but it proved too costly, so he would use elements of the set design for his 1981 Arthurian epic, Excalibur. Other producers who were said to be interested in adapting Tolkien were Walt Disney, Forrest J. Ackerman, and Denis O'Dell (who approached David Lean, Stanley Kubrick, and Michelangelo Antonioni to direct). Even George Lucas wanted in; eventually getting to squeeze out a high fantasy piece of his own with 1988's Willow

In 1977, an animated adaptation of Tolkien's The Hobbit was produced by Rankin and Bass as a TV special, with Ralph Bakshi making his animated feature of the first part of The Lord of the Rings the next year. Bakshi originally intended to make three films, with the story and dialogue following Tolkien's work closely. Unfortunately, the studios just didn't get it. Despite the story covering mostly the first book, The Fellowship of the Ring, with all the plot and characters of The Two Towers crammed into the last act, United Artists released the film simply as, THE LORD OF THE RINGS, with no hint that it would have a sequel, as they didn't think anyone would pay to see half a film.

Even though it was a success at the box office, at the time of release, some fans were not too happy with the misleading title and that the story was incomplete. You add in that it didn't earn enough to warrant United Artists funding a sequel from Bakshi to finish the story (though, Rankin and Bass did make their own very unsuccessful TV special in 1980, picking up where Bakshi left off by adapting The Return of the King, leading to lawsuits and resentments), and it would be 23 years before another big screen adaptation would see the light of day.

Now, 45 years after its release, Ralph Bakshi's THE LORD OF THE RINGS (1978) – the first big screen adaptation of Tolkien's work – is a cult classic, beloved by diehard Tolkien fans. With its faithful story and incredible rotoscope animation during the action sequences, the film set the mark for what an adaptation of Tolkien could and should be. It also introduced a young Peter Jackson to the series, and we know how that turned out.

Don't miss Ralph Bakshi's THE LORD OF THE RINGS (1978) back on the big screen on Saturday 4th, Tuesday 21st and Friday 24th November. Tickets are now on sale to everyone... GET TICKETS