How to Watch the ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’ Movies in Order

In 1937, English author J.R.R. Tolkien penned a children’s book called “The Hobbit,” or “There and Back Again,” which ignited what would become one of the most popular franchises of all time across books, film and television. That means there’s a whole lot to watch, so we’ve put together a handy guide for anyone wondering how to watch all the “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” movies in chronological or release date order.

Tolkien followed the success of “The Hobbit,” which features a Hobbit named Bilbo Baggins and his adventures in the Third Age of the fictional, mystical world of Middle Earth, with a sequel series called “The Lord of the Rings.” Set 60 years after “The Hobbit,” “The Lord of the Rings” follows an ensemble of different characters traveling to defeat the evil One Ring. The “Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings” books later spawned some of the most popular on-screen adaptations of all time, which comprise a total of six films and one TV show.

If you’re looking to dive into the “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” films, there is more than one way to do it. You can either watch the films in the order of their release, starting with 2001’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,” or you can watch the events as they actually unfold in Middle Earth, in which case you would start with Season 1 of Prime Video’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,” as the show takes place in Middle Earth’s Second Age, as opposed to both trilogies’ Third Age settings.

Here is a full breakdown of both options.

The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit Movies in Release Order

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Warner Bros.

The most straightforward way to watch the “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” movies is in the order of their release dates. Directed by Peter Jackson, the first film in the franchise, “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,” came out in 2001 and performed staggeringly well, snagging the #1 spot in the US box office, and later winning awards for Cinematography, makeup, score, and VFX at the Academy Awards.

Following “Fellowship’s” release, the next two entries into the trilogy were quick to follow as the three were shot simultaneously, with “The Two Towerspremiering in 2002, and “The Return of the King” in 2003.

After the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy debuted, it was almost a decade until viewers got the opportunity to revisit Middle Earth once again. Also directed by Jackson, the “Hobbit” trilogy began in 2012, with its films released in rapid succession just like “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

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Last but not least, Amazon Prime Video returned to Middle Earth this year, this time in TV format, with the epic, high-budget series “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.”

So here’s how to watch all the “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” movies (and series) in the order of their release:

  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

  • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

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

  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)

  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (2022 – )

The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit Movies in Chronological order

Amazon Lord of the Rings Rings of Power Viewership
Amazon Prime Video

In order to watch the “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” films in chronological order, you would need to start with “The Rings of Power,” which takes place long before the events of “The Lord of the Rings” or “The Hobbit” movies. The show takes place during the span of the years 1500-1700 SA (or Second Age) – almost 5,000 years before the events of “The Lord of the Rings.” It sees the beginning of the formation of the One Ring, and features Third Age Elves such as Galadriel and Elrond, who also lived through the Second Age due to their lengthy life spans.

After that, you’ll jump forward thousands of years to the Third Age’s “Hobbit” trilogy, which you can watch in the order of its release. The trilogy sees Bilbo Baggins and fellow Hobbits on a quest to take back their Dwarven kingdom which was snatched away from them by Smaug the dragon. The three films take place between the years 2941 and 2924 TA.

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Finally, you can move on to watch the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy in the order of its release, which takes place around sixty years after the events of “The Hobbit,” starting with Bilbo’s 111th birthday in the year 3001 of the Third Age. The films see Frodo and his friends attempting to save the world from the evils of Sauron: AKA the Lord of the Rings.

  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (2022 – )

  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)

  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

  • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

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

Where to Stream the Lord of the Rings Movies

the-hobbit
Warner Bros.

“The Fellowship of the Ring,” “The Two Towers,” and “The Return of the King” are all available to stream with a subscription to HBO Max or Amazon Prime.

What About the Hobbit Movies?

“An Unexpected Journey,” “The Desolation of Smaug” and “The Battle of the Five Armies” are all available to watch with a subscription to HBO Max or Amazon Prime.

And ‘The Rings of Power’?

Season 1 of “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” is available to watch on Amazon Prime Video. A second season is currently in the works, though it does not have a release date just yet.

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