How to watch the Lord of the Rings

lord of the rings

One of the greatest movie trilogies of all time is, without a doubt, The Lord of the Rings. The fantasy films, adapted from J.R.R. Tolkien’s books, have won countless awards and cemented themselves as an important piece of cinematic history. 

Premiering in 2001 and directed by Peter Jackson, The Lord of the Rings is still one of the best fantasy franchises around today. Kickstarting the careers of actors like Elijah Wood, Orlando Bloom, and Liv Tyler, the trilogy also features a whole host of well-known talent from Cate Blanchett to Ian McKellen. Each movie is pretty long (all three are over three hours with one making it over the four-hour mark), but the magical cinematography and epic battles make the experience truly worthwhile.

If these movies are some of your favorites — or if you’ve never seen them and have decided it’s time — there are a few ways to stream them without having cable (or the DVDs). Keep reading to find out where to watch The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring online, where to watch The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers online, and where to watch The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King online.

Where to watch the Lord of the Rings

Current Streaming ProviderPriceFree Trial
HBO Max$14.99/mo.N/A
Amazon Prime Video$8.9930 days

It’s common for streaming services to add and remove content from their libraries without warning, and this regularly happens with The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Occasionally, all three movies pop up on Netflix before disappearing again. In the past, the titles have also been seen on Hulu and Starz. Right now, the only streamer where you can watch Lord of the Rings as part of the included content is HBO Max. 

Subscribers can also watch every episode of Game of Thrones, Watchmen and Westworld and catch up on iconic shows like Friends and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air on HBO Max. Movies from the likes of Warner Bros., DC, and New Line Cinema are also available. 

Aside from HBO Max, you can rent The Lord of the Rings on other streaming services for an additional fee.

Our Recommendation

Considering HBO Max is the only streaming service that will let you watch the entirety of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, it’s our clear recommendation. You can stream the movies on Amazon Prime Video or YouTube for an extra fee, or you can rent the movies on Vudu, but with HBO Max, the movies are already included for your monthly price.

Renting vs. buying The Lord of the Rings


Google Play, iTunes, Microsoft, Prime Video, and Vudu all rent and sell the Lord of the Rings movies. The first title, The Fellowship of the Ring, is also available to rent or buy via FandangoNOW and YouTube.

You can usually rent 1 film in standard definition (SD) for $2.99 and in high definition (HD) for $3.99. The rental process tends to work in the same way, no matter which site you rent from. You’ll be given 30 days to start watching your chosen movie. But once you’ve pressed play, you’ll only have 48 hours to finish it. Some sites operate slightly differently. For example, Vudu only gives you 24 hours to complete a movie, and Microsoft requires you to start watching your film within 14 days.


Buying comes with a higher price tag than renting, but the specific cost varies from place to place. For example, some platforms charge just $9.99 for an SD purchase, while others charge $14.99. HD prices can range from $14.99 to $17.99.

All 3 movies can be yours for less than $30. iTunes is currently selling the trilogy bundle for $29.99, as is Microsoft. An extended edition bundle is also available via Microsoft ($49.99) and Vudu ($49.99).

How to stream The Lord of the Rings movies in order

Unlike other trilogies, The Lord of the Rings is one story split into three parts. So you need to watch them in release date order, starting with The Fellowship of the Ring and ending with The Return of the King. If you don’t, prepare to feel completely out of your depth.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

The most powerful individuals long to get hold of the One Ring, forged by Dark Lord Sauron in a bid to rule over all of Middle-earth. Lost for thousands of years, it eventually ends up in the hands of a young hobbit named Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood). When wizard Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) realizes the true nature of the ring, he instructs Frodo to leave his quiet home and take the ring to the fires of Mount Doom. Joined on his long and treacherous journey by an elf, a dwarf, some men and three friends from home, Frodo is forced to evade a series of terrifying enemies ranging from a strong army of Uruk-hai to the undead Nazgûl.

Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Viggo Mortensen and Liv Tyler also star in the trilogy’s introduction. Filmed in various locations across New Zealand, The Fellowship of the Ring was nominated for 13 Oscars at the 2002 Academy Awards. It won the coveted statue in four categories, including Best Cinematography and Best Original Score. The remaining two awards were for Best Visual Effects and Best Makeup, thanks to the movie’s incredible use of CGI.

Available on: HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, FandangoNOW, Google Play, iTunes, Microsoft, Vudu, YouTube

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

Frodo’s quest continues with faithful friend Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin) in tow. On their way to Mordor, they realize they have a third companion, Gollum, a strange creature with a deadly past. Only time will tell if he’ll lead Frodo and Sam to their destiny, or to their doom. Away from the two hobbits, the rest of the fellowship end up in Rohan, a land led by an unrecognizable King Théoden (Bernard Hill). As well as dealing with the spells of evil wizard Saruman (Christopher Lee), Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) must help evacuate the people of Rohan to Helm’s Deep. But is this ancient fortress strong enough to keep the fearsome Uruk-hai out?

Just like The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers received several awards, including two Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects and Best Sound Editing. The introduction of Gollum was a highlight in the special effects world, with actor Andy Serkis lending his voice and movements to the creepy character. The second part of the trilogy also won a Grammy for its dramatic musical score.

Available on: HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, iTunes, Microsoft, Vudu

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

In the final part of the trilogy, Frodo and Sam are closer than ever to Mordor while the majority of the fellowship is reunited. During the hobbits’ quest to destroy the ring, Gollum causes a potentially deadly rift between the lifelong friends. Meanwhile, Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and Théoden take charge of the World of Men, receiving assistance from Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli in a battle against Sauron’s forces, led by the mighty Witch-king. But will their efforts be enough to keep Sauron’s gaze away from Frodo? Or will the ring end up in evil hands at the end of it all?

The Return of the King broke Academy Awards records. Winning 11 Oscars at the 2004 ceremony, it holds the record for the biggest clean sweep for a single Oscar-nominated film and, alongside Ben-Hur and Titanic, holds the record for the most Oscars.

Available on: HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, iTunes, Microsoft, Vudu

The final cut

Right now, the only place you can stream the Lord of the Rings trilogy as part of a streaming service is HBO Max — which is also home to plenty of other TV shows and movies. The streaming service clocks in at $14.99 per month, which is more cost efficient than renting or buying these movies. However, you can rent or buy from other streaming services, but with everything else HBO Max has to offer, including popular shows and movies, as well as its own original content, that $14.99 price tag seems pretty appealing.

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