It's ten years on since four little hobbits set off from the Shire on an epic quest that spanned Middle Earth and took in vast battles, demonic monsters, wizardry, Orcs and, ultimately, enough Oscars to fill the Lonely Mountain. It's ten years that have seen the rise and fall and rise again of two-part prequel The Hobbit, now firmly in production in Wellington, offering moviegoers an imminent return to Middle Earth.
Obviously this all called for a big celebration so a celebration is what Empire is having. The new issue is more bursting with revelry and nostalgia than a Friday night at the Prancing Pony. There's tall tales - well, tallish tales - memories; behind-the-scenes pics from Aragorn himself, Viggo Mortensen; Oscar night reflections from Ian McKellen, Peter Jackson and Mortensen; and rarely-seen concept art.
Best of all, though, is a gathering of the four hobbits themselves: Elijah Wood (Frodo), Sean Astin (Samwise Gamgee), Billy Boyd (Pippin) and Dominic Monaghan (Merry). It was so momentous it called for its own trailer - and here it is for your perusal pleasure. Sadly the Nazgûl got stuck in LA traffic.
Shot exclusively for Empire by Sarah Dunn, pick up a copy of the December issue this Thursday for the full birthday celebration.