The screen adaption of Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” fascinated people all over the world. This international project analyses how the Hobbit trilogy was perceived in different cultures. The Hans-Bredow-Institut has conducted the survey in the German-speaking countries.
The Hans-Bredow-Institut was responsible for the online questionnaire in the German-speaking countries for the World Hobbit Research Project which consists of researcher teams from 46 countries. 35,000 people from all around the world were asked to answer the questionnaire. 4,800 questionnaires were answered in German. The data is currently being analysed in an international cooperation in order to find out how the audiences of different countries perceive the movies and what role the trilogy’s film-related activities plays for its fans. Furthermore, the connection will be made between fantasy-movies and the actual reality that the people live in.
Peter Jackson’s screen-adaption of J.R.R. Tolkin’s book, ‘The Hobbit’, became a commercial success worldwide. The movies have accumulated a revenue of almost three billion dollars until now, excluding the exploitations of secondary rights and the sales of merchandise. But why are people so fascinated by these movies and how has that led to The Hobbit becoming a media phenomenon? What functions does fantasy fulfil in the mediated life of the 21st century? How do people from different cultures react to the Hobbit’s messages? And how do they link the movies to their own environments?
These questions will be addressed in the ‘World Hobbit Project’, in which researchers from 46 countries want to collect data in 30 languages from 50,000 viewers of the Hobbit movies by using an online questionnaire. The project is led by Prof. Dr. Martin Barker and Dr. Matt Hills (both from the Aberystwyth University, Wales, UK) and Dr. Ernest Mathijs (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada). Up until the Spring of 2015, 35,000 people were asked to answer the questionnaire and of those, 4,800 people answered the questionnaire in German. The survey includes questions about ratings and perceptions of the movies, fan activities related to the Hobbit, as well as the use of technical platforms. A special feature of this study is that there are various open questions, e.g. regarding the reason for a positive or negative rating or how the movies relate to one’s personal environment. People have used these open questions indeed, so that the study has a data basis for a quantitative and qualitative data analysis. For the first part, which is carried out together with the Austrian research team, the answers will be coded with a comprehensive system of categories for a quantitative analysis. At the same time, the answers will be used for a qualitative analysis.