J. R.R. Tolkien was a respected educator, philologist, lecturer and poet, but it was as the creator of the fantasy realm of Middle-earth that he would be forever revered. Fascinated with languages and mythology, the college professor channeled his obsessions into the children's novel The Hobbit in 1937. The book's incredible success led Tolkien's publisher to push for a sequel, although it would be more than 15 years before The Lord of the Rings trilogy hit bookstores. It was, however, well worth the wait, as the epic fantasy not only exceeded all print expectations, but engendered entire sub-cultures and fields of study devoted to Tolkien's masterpiece of high fantasy. Celebrated animator Ralph Bakshi was one of the few who attempted to bring Tolkien's wondrous tale to life with the animated feature "The Lord of the Rings" (1978), although it would take another two decades for the material to reach its full potential on screen. In one of the most ambitious undertakings in the history of cinema, director Peter Jackson mounted an adaptation of Tolkien's great work with "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" (2001), the first of three massively successful installments that concluded with "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" (2003). Ten years later, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" (2012) marked Jackson's return to the beloved material. Even with his prodigious intellect and imagination, Tolkien could never have predicted the influence his works would have on modern storytelling for generations to come.