Jason Dillman doesn’t dress up for just any midnight movie.

Sure, there are probably lots of folks who will get in costume for a “Harry Potter” film one month and a “Star Wars” film the next.

But for Dillman, it’s all about J.R.R. Tolkien and his pioneering ways in fantasy fiction.

Dillman is admiring enough of Tolkien’s writing that he will dress like the elf Legolas — in a hooded cloak with plants and vines embroidered on it, no less — when he lines up for a midnight Thursday showing of the newest Tolkien-based film, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”

“It’s not very often you’d see me dress up for a movie, but I’m a very big Tolkien fan. I’ve read every single Tolkien work out there,” said Dillman, 30, a restaurant manager who lives in Naples. “I like the creativity in his books. So many fantasy books that have come since seem to borrow ideas from him.”

When “An Unexpected Journey” — the first in a three-part film adaptation of Tolkien’s classic novel “The Hobbit” — opens nationwide in theaters at midnight Thursday, it will likely not only attract Tolkien fans but those who were enthralled by the three “Lord of the Rings” movies. Those blockbuster films, made by fantasy master Peter Jackson, came out between 2001 and 2003.

“The Hobbit” is a prequel to the “Lord of the Rings,” and includes some stars from the “LOTR” movies, including 73-year-old Ian McKellen, who reprises his role as the wise old wizard Gandalf, and Andy Serkis, who returns as the sinister Gollum. Jackson also returns as director.

The film, which runs two hours and 49 minutes, holds lots of promise for Tolkien fans. That promise is based on the fact that the “Hobbit” and “Lord of the Ring” sagas are different from other blockbuster film franchises based on fantasy fiction.

First, the Tolkien books are relatively old, with “The Hobbit” dating to 1937. Tolkien was of a different time — he fought in World War I — so his fantasy has a different feel.

Plus, with “The Hobbit,” Jackson is taking one book and breaking it into three films. Most fantasy fans know that usually one book becomes one film, and it’s often difficult to fit all the best details of the book into that one movie.

“I think making one book into three films is great, because there is a ton of content in that book and now they can use more of it,” said Chris Freeman, 28, of Freeport. “Because of that, I have pretty high expectations for the film.”

Freeman will not dress up to see “The Hobbit,” although he knows people who will. He first read the book in junior high school, and remembers it being the first time he “connected” with a work of fantasy.

“I like fantasy that has more of an organic environment, that involves nature and historic themes,” he said. “What I like about Tolkien’s books is the older nature of things.”

Jeff Shaw of Portland remembers reading Tolkien books as a teenager and now reads them to his 7-year-old son, Brayden. The “scope” of “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings” has always appealed to him, including the fact that Tolkien “put so much time” into creating a language and back stories for all the characters.

Shaw plans to see the film with his son. “He really enjoys the battles and armies and the races of creatures.”

Dillman likes that in “The Hobbit” there is a lot of “gray area” between good and evil, which makes the audience, whether they be readers or film viewers, think for themselves.

“There are a lot of different races all out for their own good,” said Dillman. “So even when you have certain characters that appear inherently evil, they are just trying to survive and create their own happiness.”

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

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