Researchers study Hobbit fans

JENNA LYNCH
Last updated 15:52 12/12/2012

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While Hobbit fans rushed to cinemas last night to take a journey into Hobbiton, Waikato University researchers were busy working on their own adventure of discovery - an analysis on perceived hopes and expectations for The Hobbit: An Unexpected.

JourneyLead researcher Carolyn Michelle said that although they were not at a stage where they could draw ultimate conclusions, they have noticed trends and are able to share some preliminary findings.

''Basically, we have found six different perspectives among respondents,'' she said.  

The extremes are clear: at one end you have the Lord of the Rings fans - who are excited about the Hobbit movie and ''continuing their Lord of the Rings fandom'' and at the other end, Tolkien aficionados - the purists of Tolkien works who are skeptical and ''likely to be unhappy'' with the film.

Other findings include New Zealand respondents who can be divided into two groups - those who are proud of it being a New Zealand production and those who are excited about the economic and tourism benefits of the film. 

There are also the respondents who are not at all interested in the films and are ''critical of the hype of the film.

This group has been dubbed ''the anti-fans''.

And finally, with all research assignments come the bizarre groups - in this case fans of heart throb Richard Armitage, who plays Thorin Oakenshield in the film.

''There is a large contingent of his fans who have only become interested in the film because he is in it,'' Dr Michelle said.  

Dr Michelle said the next step in the process will be to draw conclusions from the just over 1000 responses, followed by a reception study.

''Then we will compare the prior expectations of the film to their receptions,'' she said.  

The reception study is expected to commence at the end of January.

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