The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is a 2003 epic high fantasy adventure film produced, written and directed by Peter Jackson based on the second and third volumes of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. It is the third and final instalment in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, following The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) and The Two Towers (2002), preceding The Hobbit film trilogy (2012–14).
Released on 17 December 2003, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King received positive reviews and became one of the most critically and commercially successful films of all time. It was the second film to gross $1 billion worldwide ($1.12 billion), becoming the highest-grossing film released by New Line Cinema, as well as the biggest financial success for Time Warner in general at the time. The film was the highest-grossing film of 2003 and, by the end of its theatrical run, the second highest-grossing film in history. As of January 2018, it is the 17th highest-grossing film of all time.
At the 76th Academy Awards, it won all 11 Academy Awards for which it was nominated, therefore holding the record for highest Oscar sweep. The wins included the awards for Best Picture, the first and only time a fantasy film has done so; it was also the second sequel to win a Best Picture Oscar (following The Godfather Part II) and Best Director. The film jointly holds the record for the largest number of Academy Awards won with Ben-Hur (1959) and Titanic (1997). The film has been re-released twice, in 2011 and 2017.