London's Science Museum has launched its Lord of the Rings exhibition using a wealth of props from the film.
Lawrence Makoare and May Meredith, 4, launched the exhibit
The eagerly-awaited show, which opens to the public on Tuesday, was opened by special effects creator Richard Taylor and Lawrence Makoare, who played the Uruk-hai chieftain Lurtz in The Fellowship of the Ring.
The exhibit, based on the books by JRR Tolkien, proved an enormous hit in Wellington, New Zealand, earlier this year, where it was seen by more than 220,000 people.
"To be able to hold it here in such an esteemed museum is really wonderful. Fans of the film and fans of the book will find a little bit more ," Mr Taylor said.
"Without a doubt it was the biggest challenge of my career," he said about creating the effects for the trilogy.
Mr Makoare - who appeared in the full orc make-up he used in the film - said it was important the exhibit was seen "in the country where the stories were created".
The exhibition has cost £750,000, and will tour Singapore, Boston in the US and Sydney, Australia when it finishes its London run in January 2004.
The display features secrets behind creating the sets, monsters, costumes and massive battles seen in the two films already released.
It has sold more advance tickets at the museum than the hugely successful Bond and Star Trek exhibitions put together, a museum spokesman said.
It is timed to coincide with the third instalment of the £300m trilogy, The Return of the King, which opens later this year.
More than 14,000 tickets have been sold for the show that runs until January.
The exhibition shows how Gollum was created
The unprecedented demand has prompted the museum to advise people to book early.
The London exhibit will be the only chance in Europe for fans to see the hundreds of special effects, models and armoury from the movies.
Visitors will be able to become hobbit-sized through computer imagery, and see the prosthetics and props used, including hobbit feet and contact lenses that give the orcs their unique look.
The exhibition culminates with a face-to-face encounter with the central icon from the films - the One Ring itself.
The three films were made by director Peter Jackson in his native New Zealand with a crew of 2,400.
The exhibition was developed and presented by the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in partnership with New Line Cinema.