Michelle, Carolyn, Charles H. Davis, Ann L. Hardy, & Craig Hight (2017, December). Fans, blockbusterisation, and the transformation of cinematic desire: Global receptions of the Hobbit film trilogy. London: Palgrave Macmillan. 350 pp. €93.59 cloth (ISBN: 978-1-137-59615-4), €74.96 ebook (ISBN: 978-1-137-59616-1). (Purchasing information available at http://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9781137596154#aboutBook)

This book explores the evolution of audience receptions of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy (2012-14) as an exemplar of the contemporary blockbuster event film franchise. Drawing on findings from a unique cross-cultural and longitudinal study, the authors argue that processes and imperatives associated with Hollywood ‘blockbusterisation’ shaped the trilogy’s conditions of production, format, content, and visual aesthetic in ways that left many viewers progressively disenchanted. The chapters address public and private prefigurations of the Hobbit trilogy, modes of reception, new cinematic technologies and the Hobbit hyperreality paradox, gender representations, adaptation and the transformation of cinematic desire, and the role of social and cultural location in shaping audience engagement and response. This book will appeal to audience researchers, Q methodologists, scholars and students in film and media studies, Tolkien scholars, and Hobbit fans and critics alike.

Chapter 2 (“Researching Audience Engagements with the Hobbit Trilogy: A Unique Methodological Approach,” pp. 23-52), provides a detailed overview of the unique methodology adopted for the Hobbit Audience Project. It begins by outlining the key insights from previous research on Tolkien fandom and audiences for Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy that helped inform the project’s core questions and research focus. Then, it explains the rationale for conducting a large-scale longitudinal investigation of transnational receptions of the Hobbit trilogy, focusing in particular on the potential to make contributions to theory-building. To that end, the chapter also outlines the Composite Multi-dimensional Model of Modes of Audience Reception, which provides the theoretical framework for the project, before detailing the specific methods employed to gather data, including Q methodology, conventional questionnaires and interviews.

Carolyn Michelle <c.michelle@waikato.ac.nz> and Ann L Hardy are affiliated with the School of Social Sciences, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand; Charles H Davis is in the School of Radio and Television Arts, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada; and Craig Hight is at the Department of Creative Industries, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia.

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