The reception of "The Hobbit": a world project
In December 2014, the final part of the planned trilogy of films of The Hobbit will be released to cinemas. To coincide with that, a research project is being launched to gather people’s responses to the films. With research partners in over 40 countries, and gathering responses in a very wide range of languages, the ambition is to gather over 50,000 responses, which will surely make it the largest and widest audience research project yet undertaken. The aim is to explore how audiences in different country and cultural contexts make sense of and evaluate a fantasy film that is very English in origin, but has been turned into films by Hollywood with a New Zealand director and settings. Based on the experience gained in a previous project about The Lord of the Rings, this time, in addition, the researchers plan to explore a series of further questions, such as: how ‘digital cinema’ plays a part in audiences’ responses; how people’s sense of belonging to particular ‘interpretive communities’ shapes their individual responses; and how recognition and attachment to particular actors affects judgements of the films.