The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is a 2003 epic fantasy-drama film directed by Peter Jackson based on the second and third volumes of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. It is the concluding film in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, following The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) and The Two Towers (2002).
As Sauron launches the final stages of his conquest of Middle-earth, Gandalf the Wizard, and Théoden King of Rohan rally their forces to help defend Gondor's capital Minas Tirith from the looming threat. Aragorn finally claims the throne of Gondor and summons an army of ghosts to help him defeat Sauron. Ultimately, even with full strength of arms, they realise they cannot win; so it comes down to the Hobbits, Frodo and Sam, to bear the burden of the Ring and deal with the treachery of Gollum. After a long journey they finally arrive in the dangerous lands of Mordor, seeking to destroy the One Ring in the place it was created, the volcanic fires of Mount Doom.
Released on 17 December 2003, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King received rave reviews and became one of the greatest critical and box-office successes of all time, being only the second film to gross $1 billion worldwide, becoming the highest grossing film from New Line Cinema, as well as the biggest financial success for Time Warner in general, until Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 surpassed The Return of the King's final gross in 2011. Notably, it won all eleven Academy Awards for which it was nominated, an Oscar record, and tied for largest number of awards won with Ben-Hur and Titanic. It also won the Academy Award for Best Picture, the first and only time a fantasy film has done so; it was also the second sequel to win a Best Picture Oscar (following The Godfather Part II) and the only time a sequel has won without a predecessor winning the award. It was the highest-grossing film of 2003.