My wife and I were up all night at the first showing of The Return of the King. Great. Like finishing a great book, full of flaws but sublime nonetheless. I never read the books until the movie came out (we saw the first LOTR in German the first time, which was a great way to have an original experience of the story, since I was guessing about the dialogue about half the time). Now, I’ve read the books to my kids twice, yet I still don’t touch Kiera’s LOTR geek quotient.
A hundred or so years into the history of cinema and we’re starting to see what a visual literature might look like. If a $450 million investment is required, we’ll see precious few of these kinds of cinematic cultural events. But, with a box office headed north of $2 billion and maybe a billion more in merchandise, this is a watershed event in investment in artistic vision.