The Lord of the Rings has been adapted for film, radio and stage.
The book has been adapted for radio four times. In 1955 and 1956, the BBC broadcast The Lord of the Rings, a 13-part radio adaptation of the story. In the 1960s radio station WBAI produced a short radio adaptation. A 1979 dramatization of The Lord of the Rings was broadcast in the United States and subsequently issued on tape and CD. In 1981, the BBC broadcast The Lord of the Rings, a new dramatization in 26 half-hour instalments. This dramatization of The Lord of the Rings has subsequently been made available on both tape and CD both by the BBC and other publishers. For this purpose it is generally edited into 13 one-hour episodes.
Following J. R. R. Tolkien's sale of the film rights for The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, rock band The Beatles considered a corresponding film project and approached Stanley Kubrick as a potential director; however, Kubrick turned down the offer, explaining to John Lennon that he thought the novel could not be adapted into a film due to its immensity. The eventual director of the film adaptation Peter Jackson further explained that a major hindrance to the project's progression was Tolkien's opposition to the involvement of the Beatles. British director John Boorman also tried to make an adaptation of The Lord of the Rings for United Artists in 1970. After the script was written, which included many changes to the story and the characters, the production company scrapped the project, thinking it too expensive and too risky.
Two film adaptations of the book have been made. The first was J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings (1978), by animator Ralph Bakshi, the first part of what was originally intended to be a two-part adaptation of the story; it covers The Fellowship of the Ring and part of The Two Towers. A three-issue comic book version of the movie was also published in Europe (but not printed in English), with illustrations by Luis Bermejo. When Bakshi's investors shied away of financing the second film that would complete the story, the remainder of the story was covered in an animated television special by Rankin-Bass. Stylistically, the two segments are very different. The second and more commercially successful adaptation was Peter Jackson's live action The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, produced by New Line Cinema and released in three instalments as The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003). All three parts won multiple Academy Awards, including consecutive Best Picture nominations. The final instalment of this trilogy was the second film to break the one-billion-dollar barrier and won a total of 11 Oscars (something only two other films in history, Ben-Hur and Titanic, have accomplished), including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.
The Hunt for Gollum, a fan film based on elements of the appendices to The Lord of the Rings, was released on the internet in May 2009 and has been covered in major media. Born of Hope, written by Paula DiSante, directed by Kate Madison, and released in December 2009, is a fan film based upon the appendices of The Lord of the Rings.
On 13 November 2017, it was announced that Amazon had acquired the global television rights to The Lord of the Rings, committing to a multi-season television series. The series will not be a direct adaptation of the books, but will instead introduce new stories that are set before The Fellowship of the Ring. Amazon said the deal included potential for spin-off series as well. The press release referred to "previously unexplored stories based on J.R.R. Tolkien's original writings". Amazon will be the producer in conjunction with the Tolkien Estate and The Tolkien Trust, HarperCollins and New Line Television. According to a 2018 report, it will be the most expensive TV show ever produced.
In 1990, Recorded Books published an audio version of The Lord of the Rings, with British actor Rob Inglis – who had previously starred in his own one-man stage productions of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings – reading. A large-scale musical theatre adaptation, The Lord of the Rings was first staged in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 2006 and opened in London in May 2007.