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Watch out, Harry Potter -- the Hobbit is back

Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins
Elijah Wood stars as Frodo Baggins in the movie version "The Fellowship of the Ring," which will be released late next year  

FRANKFURT, Germany (Reuters) -- Teenage wizard Harry Potter will get a chance to test his magic against the enduring appeal of the Hobbit next year when film versions of both J.K. Rowling's bestseller and J.R.R. Tolkien's classic hit the silver screen.

"These two films will be going head to head," Adrian Bourne, managing director of the trade division of HarperCollins Publishers, told Reuters at the Frankfurt book fair on Thursday.

Bourne said HarperCollins, which has world rights to Tolkien's works and has just secured the tie rights for any books that appear with the film, hopes for a major boost to sales of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.

"We could see a five-fold increase in sales in "Lord of the Rings," "The Hobbit" and the other works," he said, but declined to specify how many copies are currently sold a year. "The same kind of readers will be coming to us who read Harry Potter."

Bourne said the trilogy was being filmed in New Zealand in consultation with the artists who designed the current covers for the book and would feature a mixture of live action and computer-generated effects.

Harry Potter
The film based on the first Harry Potter book is also due out late next year  

The first film, "The Fellowship of the Ring," is due for release ahead of Christmas next year and includes Ian McKellen playing Gandalf and Hollywood teen star Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins. Two more will follow in subsequent years.

"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," widely seen as the most eagerly awaited children's film in a decade, is also due on screens late next year.

Rowling's tales of a fearless young wizard have stirred mania in playgrounds and publishing houses, but Bourne said the Harry Potter hype was overdone.

"I think Harry Potter is a one-off. It has been picked up as a cult but I think it is a bit optimistic to say it is going to revive reading," he said.

Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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'The Lord Of The Rings' film Web site
Frankfurt Book Fair

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