WELLINGTON (Reuters) – Lord of the Rings movie maker Peter Jackson on Wednesday dismissed talk that the first movie of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic fantasy trilogy is in head-to-head competition with the first Harry Potter (news – web sites) movie.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone had its debut to rave reviews in London on Sunday while the first Lord of the Rings movie in New Zealander Jackson’s $300 million series — The Fellowship of the Ring — premieres in London on December 10.
Newspapers have cast the two fantasy movies as rivals in a battle of the box office but Jackson declared himself a fan of Potter. “I’m a huge fan of the books so I’m looking forward to it,” Jackson told reporters.
“Everybody paints this sort of competition between Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings — it’s sort of crazy because I just wish Harry Potter all the best and I’m sure it’ll be great.”
AOL Time Warner will be a winner both ways — its New Line Cinema studio is producing the Lord of the Rings series while another of its units, Warner Brothers, is making the Harry Potter series.
Over the past half century, J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic fantasy about hobbits, trolls, elves and wizards has sold as estimated 100 million copies worldwide — enchanting readers with the tale of Frodo the hobbit (played by Elijah Wood) who sets out to destroy the magic ring that would make the evil Saruman (Christopher Lee) all-powerful.
J.K. Rowling’s books about Potter the teenage wizard reached the 100 million mark in just four years.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, which cost $125 million, stars Daniel Radcliffe (as Harry) and Robbie Coltrane.
While the media is sure to compare the box office receipts of the two movies, Jackson suggested fantasy fans would watch both, rather than follow one movie series over the other.
“People have another year to wait for the next Harry Potter film but we’re coming along four or five weeks later,” he said.
The Harry Potter movie — entitled Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for U.S. audiences — goes on general release on November 16 while the first Lord of the Rings movie will be in theaters on December 19.