NewsWire: World Awaits Word on Lord of the Rings - Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) - Director Peter Jackson's first Lord of the Rings film gets its world premiere in London Monday night with critics already tipping it as a modern classic.

Tolkien fans and movie-goers the world over are eager to find out whether Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring can live up to its massive hype but until now, only a select few critics have been allowed to see the film.

Those who have seen it tip it as a sure-fire blockbuster, which will catapult the previously little-known New Zealander Jackson into the highest echelons of the film fraternity.

"It has real passion, real emotion, real terror and a tactile sense of evil," said Newsweek critic David Ansonia in one of the first published reviews.

Monday's premiere is expected to be one of the most glittering events on the film calendar this year, with a host of Hollywood stars joining British celebrities in London's Leicester Square.

Most of the film's cast is expected to attend, including Hollywood actress Liv Tyler, who plays elf princess Arwen, and 20-year-old Elijah Wood, cast in the lead role of the Hobbit Frodo Baggins.

Jackson will also be there, eager to see his creation finally hit the screen.

The cast say they are well aware of the huge expectations for the film but are confident it will please fans of J.R.R Tolkien's epic tales of hobbits, dwarves, elves and orcs plunged into a magical struggle between good and evil.

"When I finally saw the film, I was floored because it was more than I even expected it would be, and I already had very high expectations," Tyler told Reuters ahead of the premiere.

Jackson and his cast and crew of 2,400 filmed the Lord of the Rings trilogy in New Zealand over two years -- back to back and out of sequence.

The project, estimated by producer Barrie Osborne to have cost in excess of $270m, was backed by New Line Studios which agreed to back all three films before the first one hit the screens and could be judged by audiences. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring will open in 10,000 cinemas worldwide on December 19. The following installments, The Two Towers and The Return of the King will follow at the end of 2002 and 2003.

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