I have not watched any of the entries in the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit franchise and as per my knowledge The Hobbit's story occurs before LotR but the release order is different. So for better understanding should I go with the Hobbit trilogy first or should I go with release order?
I would start with the Hobbit first. Some things that happen in the Hobbit franchise have no "stakes" if you watch the 3 LotR movies first. The Hobbit also gives back story for the main LotR story.
There are risks that characters in the Hobbit take. If you watch the Lord of the Rings first, you'll know the outcome of the risks, and the tension in the Hobbit is reduced.
specifically Gandalf fighting a huge amount of Orcs in The Hobbit. Since he's in Lord of the Rings, if you see that first, when you watch The Hobbit you know that he wins the battle against the Orcs.
I found myself less invested in The Hobbit as a result.
So I guess I should specify the order I recommend:
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
I saw the films in the order that they were released and I have read the Hobbit and halfway through the LotR tome. Here is a personal opinion:
- Read the Hobbit
- Watch LotR films (perhaps many times each!)
- Read the LotR book
- Watch the Hobbit films if the nostalgia is unbearable.
(Switching (2) and (3) can also be recommended.)
The Hobbit serves at least 2 purposes: laying some foundation for the important events that take place in LotR and being a gentle introduction to Middle Earth. ME is a complicated universe with its rich history, diverse geography, many races, many languages and many maps. If you are somewhat familiar with those things, LotR (the films and the book) will be much easier to follow.
Because they are made after LotR, the Hobbit films strive for continuity and providing fan services by bringing back many elements of the first 3 films. The score, several actors, the filming angle, certain emphatic quotes and many subtle hints for the people who have seen the first 3 films. The problem is important elements such as the score and the characters (played by the actors who have aged noticeably since the first 3 films, who have to play younger versions of the characters, and who are now given a much less rich source material to work with) appear in the Hobbit trilogy as lesser versions of themselves in the LotR trilogy. So if you watch the Hobbit first, you will meet those elements for the first time in less positive light than they deserve. That will spoil your LotR enjoyment when you later watch the original trilogy.
While inferior in important ways compared to the LotR trilogy, the Hobbit films are arguably more technologically advanced and flashier. Not surprising considering they arrive a decade later. Thus, if you see the Hobbit films first, they may make you feel disappointed in certain visual effects in LotR.
Finally, LotR are universally hailed as cinematic masterpieces whereas the Hobbit films are at best good and entertaining films. If you see the latter first, you may encounter disappointments that leave behind a bad taste that hinders your LotR enjoyment.
Watch them in release order.
It is true that The Hobbit series happens chronologically before the LotR series and that there are some characters that are in both, which can lead to some spoilers:
For example you will know that Gandalf, Legolas, and Bilbo survive the Hobbit movies.
However, if you do anything other than just open the boxes and watch them immediately without knowing any background on the series you are probably already know that already!
Due to the Jackson additions to The Hobbit movies that directly foreshadow events in the LotR, I think there are scenes in The Hobbit that ruin parts of the LotR series.
For example, you know the importance of Strider as a character in LotR and that Sauron's power is growing, making much of the mystery and knowledge discovery Frodo and the gang face in The Fellowship of the Rings redundant/less significant.
Further, watching LotR first has the beginning and ending of the marathon end spectacularly.
There and back again!
There are a few interesting orders in which you can watch the six movies
- The usual Hobbit trilogy first and then the LOTR trilogy.
Following the story of the one ring (lets you keep track of the one ring)
a. Watch just Galadriel’s opening “The Fellowship of the Ring”
b. Then just the opening Smeagol and Deagol scene from “The Return of the King"
c. Then the entire “Hobbit” trilogy
d. Finish off with the remaining original LOTR trilogy
Following the stories of the two kings (for the best epic feel)
a. Watch the first two “Hobbit” films
b. Then the complete LOTR trilogy
c. Finally "The battle of the five armies"
Take a look at this following blog. https://medium.com/@rjmarvin1/the-hobbit-lord-of-the-rings-marathon-to-end-all-marathons-a-binge-watching-guide-c44f61239c4
Read the books, including Appendix A to LotR. Many times if you like them. Then watch the movies if you want to take the risk of having your experience ruined.
Tolkien crafted the books -- even The Hobbit -- very carefully. The movies have minced and mangled that. I would have understood if they had left out some characters and scenes from the books, but they have 'combined' characters in spite of at one point promising not to, and then they have added a lot of their own inventions, sometimes based on misunderstanding of the books, but more often for no good reason, and in every case disrupting Tolkien's careful narrative and world-building structure. I won't even go into the subject of making eight hours of movie from less than 300 pages of children's book on top of all that. If you think that that is OK in a movie -- after all all movies made from books do that to some degree -- then by all means see the movies in the order in which they were made -- after reading the books in the order in which they were written at least once.
I would say watch LotR and then the Hobbit. PJ added so much additional crap to the story in the Hobbit movies that I don't think it would make as much sense, or understand the importance, if you watched it the way JRRT intended it.
Which is a shame but neither here nor there....
But if you want a real adventure, I would say read the Hobbit first(it's only 270 pages or so) then watch LotR and then watch the Hobbit. Then read LotR since PJ omitted some things in that. That would be the most bang for your buck, and allow you to fully comprehend where the stories were going as you watched the movies.
Either way, enjoy!
I have a strange tip, but I hope it makes sense to others too. For this, I suggest you to watch the series in short time (less than a week for example).
In LotR there are many mention from The Hobbit.
So start with The Fellowship of the Ring. Than ask a friend about the parts that were interesting, but not clear at all. I don't suggest to Google it because of accidental spoilers. If it was in the first Hobbit movie, watch it. If in the second, watch them both, and if in the third, watch all the Hobbit series. If the interested part wasn't in the second or third Hobbit movie, watch the Two Towers. After that, watch the rest of the Hobbit series, and close it with the The return of The King.
This way you get the partly told stories completely, and when you reach the ending film, you already know everything about Middle Earth.