According to Talk Backer on Sept. 13, with the recent Peter Jackson's film, "The Hobbit", there has been quite a fan base with J.R.R. Tolkien's stories having been brought to life to the big screen. But there is something to consider that may have been under rated and that would be the 1977 version of the Rankin Bass Productions' animated version of "The Hobbit".
In fact, the voice of Bilbo Baggins was that of actor Orson Bean who still has quite the large online resume of acting roles throughout the course of his life. The animated film was 77 minutes long and though the animation was a bit stilted and the appearance of elves that weren't quite representative of Jackson's films, the good did outweigh the bad. It was thought to be a great film for children as an introductory lesson into Tolkien's works and perhaps could be a "gateway" into getting into an advanced reading level as to be able to read the book itself.
Some of those who grew up in the 70s might be familiar with Bass' animated holiday specials such as "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" which entailed stop motion animation methods.