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High on 'The Hobbit'

Shave off about 2 feet of height and smother the tops of his feet in coarse hair, and Alec Galpin would have looked like Bilbo Baggins himself — almost.

The 19-year-old had the knit vest and shirt, both purchased at Goodwill, but he chose to wear slippers in lieu of bare feet. As of 1 p.m. Thursday, Galpin had endured 30-degree temperatures for about four hours while waiting in line outside Tinseltown for the midnight premiere of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey."

The film is the first of a movie trilogy based on the book by J.R.R. Tolkien, which tells the story of the short, unadventurous Baggins and the unlikely journey he takes with a mercurial wizard and ragtag group of dwarves.

As of 2 p.m. Thursday, the 12:01 a.m. tickets for both the regular and 3-D showings were sold out, according to the Cinemark Theatres website.

"It's worth it. It's definitely worth it," Galpin said of braving the cold to assure a good seat. " 'The Hobbit' is my favorite book."

Galpin and his friend, Harrison Leep, 18, passed the time by watching movies on a laptop, blankets slung about their shoulders. Both already had tickets in hand.

"I'm so excited for this," Leep said, adding his father read the book to him as a child.

He wasn't the only one. Cody Pitts, who sat nearby, has been eager for a "Hobbit" movie since seeing the wildly successful "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, also based on Tolkien's works. Now 20, he was 10 when the first installment, "The Fellowship of the Ring," hit theaters. He's also a longtime fan of the books.

"You can read 'The Hobbit' 1,000 times and it's still just as good as the first one," Pitts said.

Eager fans of the story said they appreciate the spirited fantasy adventure, but also loved the book's characters and themes.

"It's incredible what one person can do," said 19-year-old Christina Coleman.

Mikayla Coddington, 18, who sat bundled up nearby with a group of friends in lawn chairs, agreed.

"I like the characters and what they stand for," Coddington said.

Coleman's group, which had a full Thermos of coffee and small space heater to beat back the cold, was first in line and was surrounded by additional chairs waiting for friends who hadn't shown up yet. They opted not to wear costumes because of the cold.

"I bet in the summer everyone would dress up," said 25-year-old Bethany DeCoste.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at rpfeil@mailtribune.com.

Aimee Birkinshaw, 25, of Medford, does her best dwarf impersonation while standing in line for “The Hobbit” movie premiere Thursday. Glenn Kaphamer, 18, is reading J.R.R. Tolkien's book while he waits. - Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell