The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey isn't the first hotly anticipated prequel to a massively successful movie property. Here are five more films that attempted to revisit beloved narratives at earlier points in the story - with distinctly mixed results. And, no, the Star Trek reboot and Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes don't count; they're alternate continuities rather than proper prequels. Yes, we are nerds.
1. Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)
Right up until it opened, George Lucas's return to the Star Wars universe after 16 years - with a cast that included Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman and Samuel L. Jackson - was the most eagerly -anticipated cultural event of the year. And then, well, it opened.
2. The Godfather: Part II (1974)
Two years after his Oscar-winning Mob blockbuster The Godfather, Francis Ford Coppola returned with an ambitious, intimate epic that contrasted the damnation of Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) with the rise decades earlier of his father, Vito (Robert De Niro in the role created by Marlon Brando). It's both prequel and sequel - and, as it turned out, more than the first film's equal.
3. Prometheus (2012)
Ridley Scott spent most of 2011 coyly hinting that his new sci-fi epic would be one of his most important projects ever - oh, and maybe a return to the Alien universe. The part about a return to the Alien universe turned out to be true, though we're still trying to make sense of how all the parts fit together... and, given the way Prometheus ends, why we're supposed to care
4. X-Men: First Class (2011)
After Bryan Singer's thrilling X-Men and X2, fans watched the superhero franchise sink into torpor with Brett Ratner's dopey The Last Stand and Gavin Hood's dismal Wolverine prequel. Matthew Vaughn's stylish 60s adventure relaunches the series in style, with James McAvoy and Mich-ael Fassbender as younger versions of Patrick Stewart's Professor Xavier and Ian McKellen's Magneto respectively.
5. Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom (1984)
Steven Spielberg's follow-up to Raiders Of The Lost Ark is set a year before Harrison Ford's dashing archaeologist found his greatest treasure, and, frankly, it's always bugged us that the character - who defines himself as a man of science who doesn't believe in religion, magic or superstition - saves the day by using a mystical chant to set some sacred stones on fire. That's not just dopey, it's out-and-out disrespectful of the established mythology. (Still better than Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, though.)