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The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

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Gandalf and Aragorn lead the World of Men against Sauron's army to draw his gaze from Frodo and Sam as they approach Mount Doom with the One Ring.


Peter Jackson


J.R.R. Tolkien (novel), Fran Walsh (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
253 ( 7)
Top Rated Movies #7 | Won 11 Oscars. Another 198 wins & 122 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Noel Appleby Noel Appleby ... Everard Proudfoot
Ali Astin ... Elanor Gamgee (as Alexandra Astin)
Sean Astin ... Sam
David Aston ... Gondorian Soldier 3
John Bach ... Madril
Sean Bean ... Boromir
Cate Blanchett ... Galadriel
Orlando Bloom ... Legolas
Billy Boyd ... Pippin
Sadwyn Brophy Sadwyn Brophy ... Eldarion
Alistair Browning Alistair Browning ... Damrod
Marton Csokas ... Celeborn
Richard Edge Richard Edge ... Gondorian Soldier 1
Jason Fitch ... Uruk 2
Bernard Hill ... Theoden


The final confrontation between the forces of good and evil fighting for control of the future of Middle-earth. Hobbits: Frodo and Sam reach Mordor in their quest to destroy the "one ring", while Aragorn leads the forces of good against Sauron's evil army at the stone city of Minas Tirith. Written by Jwelch5742

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

orc | battle | journey | hobbit | ring | See All (245) »


The eye of the enemy is moving. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for intense epic battle sequences and frightening images | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »



New Zealand | USA

Release Date:

17 December 2003 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Return of the King See more »


Box Office


$94,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$72,629,713, 19 December 2003, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$377,845,905, 28 June 2011

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,119,929,521, 25 November 2011
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (Blu-Ray Extended Edition) | (Special DVD Extended Edition) | (DVD Widescreen Edition)

Sound Mix:

DTS-ES | Dolby Digital EX | SDDS



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Director Peter Jackson finally managed to have the world premiere of this movie take place in his native New Zealand, where the trilogy had been made. The decision had technically not been made yet, but during promotional tours of the previous movie, Jackson announced that Producer Mark Ordesky had a special surprise for New Zealand fans. This practically forced Ordesky to promise that Wellington would have the world premiere at the spot. See more »


After Gollum says, "Clever Hobbits, to climb so high!", he jumps onto Frodo and Sam. Gollum then attacks Frodo and when he turns Frodo onto his back, Frodo's shirt is wide open at his neck/chest and the chain and Ring are gone. In the next close-up as Gollum chokes Frodo, and the following shots, the chain with the Ring is back. See more »


[first lines]
Deagol: Smeagol, I've got one! I've got a fish, Smeag. Smeagol!
Smeagol: Pull it in. Go on. Go on. Go on. Pull it in.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Christopher Lee, who played Saruman in the film was not originally credited at the end of the film as all the other main characters were because he did not appear in the theatrical version. For the Extended DVD however, he does appear in the film and justly gets his drawn character and name credit with the other actors. See more »

Alternate Versions

When Aragorn reveals Anduril to the King of the Dead, some prints of the film has his reply as "That blade was broken", while in other prints his response is "That line was broken." See more »


Featured in Legends of Tomorrow: Guest Starring John Noble (2018) See more »


The Edge of Night
Music by Billy Boyd
Lyrics by J.R.R. Tolkien
Performed by Billy Boyd
Adapted by Philippa Boyens
Orchestration by Howard Shore
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Arguably the Greatest Film of All Time
21 May 2018 | by grantbullertSee all my reviews

"The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" is a film like no other. The massive scale is unparalled, yet it stays down to earth and doesn't forget about what the story is all about: our humble Fellowship who desire to bring an end to the evil of Sauron and his puppets.

-Analysis of Notable Work- *Writing/Directing: All paths cross in this epic conclusion of one of the greatest stories ever told. The mastery of the storytelling completely sets this film apart from almost all other franchises. There is so much depth and heart to each character that it doesn't matter who is on screen at the time. We are totally drawn in to the story. The pacing and tension building is phenomenal and is what makes this film a classic among the fantasy genre, and perhaps even a classic across all of cinema. Peter Jackson's astounding work is clearly visible once again in this epic tale. He has complete command over every aspect of his brilliant adaptation of Tolkien's master work. *Cinematography/Editing: Once again, the work of Andrew Lesnie continues to impress and awe. He brings such beauty and realism to Jackson's vision. Few cinematographers would be able to do what he has done for these films. Every shot is a beautiful work of art, but also an excellent piece of storytelling. The editing is incredible in this final installment. Tension and urgency rise as the film progresses. The blending of the images and soundscape, as well as music makes us feel as if we are in Middle-earth. *Dialogue/Acting: The urgency is also heightened due to the incredible dialogue. Speeches are more grand than they have ever been, conversations between main characters have so much weight to them. The delivery from the actors is what really sells it. There is so much passion coming from every actor in this film. Viggo Mortensen continues to impress. Sir Ian McKellen is as powerful as ever. Sean Astin delivers his best performance of his life. Every member of the cast is incredible and believable. There is not a single weak link in the cast. The heart that everyone put into these films is clearly visible, and it pays off in this epic conclusion. *Music/Sound: The soundtrack is second to none. Howard Shore proves he is a genius as he continues to build on the musical world he created through the past two films. The music is so essential in this cinematic world; it adds depth to every moment. The sound mixing, sound editing, and sound design are all marvelous. They suck the audience into the world and help grab and hold our attention all throughout the film. The atmosphere feels so undeniably real due to the soundscape. The work the sound designers and foley crew did is incredibly tedious and it shows. They created a masterpiece of sound. *Production Design/Special Effects: The set pieces and weapons, armor, make-up, and more are even more impressive in this film than the previous two. The work that Weta Workshop did is unprecedented and has not been matched since. Every prop and set has so much detail that it feels as real as anything we would see in the real world. The attention to detail in this film is second to none. The special effects, both practical and digital, are groundbreaking. The blending of CGI and real effects is seamless and is many years ahead of its time. This film should be the rule book for how to effectively create a massive film with multiple elements.

*Conclusion: "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" is a film that has paved the way for fantasy films and all films with a massive scale. It is a masterful work through every single aspect of film. No film before it has been so groundbreaking on so many levels or matched the level of mastery in every aspect of filmmaking. No film after it has quite lived up to the level of perfection this film has achieved. It is for these reasons that it deserves to be part of the discussion for the greatest film ever brought to screen.

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