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Tolkien community loses Melissa Petrey Kern

Mel is gone.

Chris Mel KernIt has been weeks now and this isn’t news. I have felt the loss personally and thought about the loss for so many.

Melissa Theresa Petrey Kern, 42, is gone. In her real traditional obituary, it says she was of Lawrenceville, Georgia. Respectfully, I disagree, or I want to state on the record, that while that may be true, it isn’t the whole truth.

More of the truth would say that Melissa Theresa Petrey Kern, 42, a notable figure in the Tolkien Community, died March 8, 2015, after a long battle with ALS. She lived among us, the fan community, and was our neighbor and shared her life with us and is missed by us, as she is missed in Lawrenceville. You could write about more places she lived and is missed too.

I remember, fortunately a few conversations we shared that didn’t seem especially significant at the time, but feel pretty lucky now. We talked about an artist that visited Georgia. We talked about the Tolkien Community in Atlanta. We even talked about specific people she wanted good things for. We talked about fandom, that included her own early love for the books of J.R.R. Tolkien. We shared some moments and I value them, as part of the beautiful experience of our community and they are just a tiny sample of many such moments she shared with many people.

More memorable than the things she said were the people she influenced. The Georgia costuming community, I think it is fair to say, wouldn’t have been so organized or so unified if not for Mel. The Arms of Middle-earth might not have existed at all without Mel, but I don’t pretend to know the reality of that claim. We can safely and accurately say, she was at the heart of the community.

There is a photo, I am sure dozens of people have it, where a significant number of Tolkien costumers were all gathered together in an impressive array of characters from “The Lord of the Rings.” It was during Dragon Con in Atlanta, before the convention had matured to quite the level it has now. Groups of costumers were less frequent and large numbers of themed costumes were rare. There, in that spot, was organized and gathered an outstanding display of fans, living their passions and forming a genuine fellowship. It was a very fine cosplay effort but it was a transcendent community effort. (more…)

Posted in Billy Boyd, DragonCon, Fans, Hobbit Movie, J.R.R. Tolkien, John Rhys-Davies, Martin Freeman, New Zealand, Peter Jackson, The Hobbit, Tolkien

‘Shadow of Mordor’ wins big at DICE awards, gets BAFTA nominations

ShadowofMordor_LordoftheHunt_StealthCaragorA bit like the Oscars for video games, “Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor,” won big at the 18th annual DICE Awards, emerging on top in eight categories. Another fantasy game, “Dragon Age: Inquisition,” won the Game of the Year honors but SoM had an outstanding night despite not taking that prize. It won:

Outstanding Achievement in Story
Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction
Outstanding Achievement in Game Design
Adventure Game of the Year
Outstanding Innovation in Gaming
Outstanding Achievement in Animation
Outstanding Achievement in Character
Outstanding Technical Achievement
(more…)

Posted in Tolkien, Video games, Warner Bros.

Going deep with Weta Digital

JoeLetteriThere is a lot to write about and our staff is spread pretty thin these days, but this article about Weta Digital and what some of the processes were for “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” is just too good to miss.

Here is a taste:

The new tools implemented for the film included the real-time lighting software Gazebo, technology in development two years ago (see “Shaping Middle-earth,” January/February 2013), new rendering software called Manuka, and a new virtual production pipeline. The scale of shots with the armies made their implementation necessary. (more…)

Posted in Hobbit Movie, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, WETA Digital

Astounding Tolkien-themed art collection now open in Milan

Hey all, MrCere here. We have a friend in Italy who has been great at promoting some J.R.R. Tolkien related stuff and has been also providing TheOneRing content and ways to reach readers and Tolkienites in Europe.

Gabriele Marconi sent in the following info, I think, with the idea that I could shape a post for TORn from it. Instead, I love his energy and style so and am presenting the info as he provided. It is long compared to many posts, but there is a lot of useful info. And, if this doesn’t want to make you go to Milan, you might not be a Tolkien fan. This is an astounding collection of art with all the names you hope might be included. Anyway, go read!:

Marconi said: (more…)

Posted in Alan Lee, Events, Exhibits, J.R.R. Tolkien, John Howe, The Hobbit, Tolkien

Father says his 4th grader was suspended for talking about using One Ring magic at school

The finding of The Ring - monochrome variationKids telling other kids about how they plan to use rings is making terroristic threats. This seems to have taken place in Texas in the Kermit Independent School District.

The Odessa American reported that the principal said threats against a student – magical or not – are not tolerated.

The boy’s father, Jason Steward, said the family had been to see “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” last weekend. His son brought a ring to his class at Kermit Elementary School and told another boy his magic ring could make the boy disappear. The story is starting to get traction in bigger media arenas but it seems this smallish Texas website started it.

(It is clear to TheOneRing.net that the lad was only trying to be a good Steward — like his father and the whole family needs shirts that say, “I am of Gondor.”)

Posted in Hobbit Movie, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

TheOneRing.net presents Friday at FanX in Salt Lake City

Gandalf & Saruman at SLCC 2013

Gandalf & Saruman at SLCC 2013

SALT LAKE CITY — It isn’t traditional convention season but Salt Lake City, that hotbed of nerddom, has invited TheOneRing.net to present a HOBBIT panel Friday at the Fan Xperience. The official title is: Behind the Scenes of The Hobbit: A Look at Hobbiton :: Room 250A but who knows what might happen? Friends may call, secrets may be revealed, photos might be shown and generally Tolkien mayhem is bound to happen.

We will take a deep look at the book and movie versions of Tolkien’s pastoral Hobbiton. They placed us in a pretty decent sized room so support is much appreciated.

Posted in Conventions, Events, Fans, FanX, The Hobbit

A check in with the financials of ‘The Hobbit: BOTFA’

13treasures of erebor

Well, looks like nobody will go broke making Middle-earth movies. The third of Peter Jackson’s films based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” squeaked past $800 million earned world-wide last weekend. Jackson can get on with his “Tin Tin” movie and maybe my wish that he will write and direct a World War I zombie film with 100 percent practical effects in conjunction with Weta Workshop can happen. Maybe not.

But it is time to take a little peek at the box office and see how things are going. If you didn’t hear, another Warner Bros. movie, “American Sniper” assassinated the January box office records in the U.S. while the final Hobbit film slid to eighth place after 30-some days of release. Rentrack tells us it made $4 million on the weekend for a grand total of $244,537,115 domestic. It isn’t quite done, so lets call it $250 million but it will be closer to $260.

Meanwhile, overseas, from 63 territories, it has taken $558,600,000. (Speaking of “Taken” the third one of those movies just made an avalanche of money – see gold pile above – so go ahead and bet on number four. With every new sequel, a legion of devils get their wings; but Hollywood doesn’t care.)

One big market, a dragon of a market if you will, China, hasn’t opened the film yet and so that non-U.S. total is expected to reach past $700 million. This puts Jackson’s final Middle-earth movie very close, but not over $1 billion. Now, it is nothing but an arbitrary mark and a game, but something satisfies our lizard brains to know the film made 1/28th of what Bill Gates has donated to charity.

Can China and the rest of the world world push their share to $750 million or beyond? This film was tracking ahead of the previous one, that finished just more than $700 million, so it is going to be very close, but I can’t find the complete data and my bed calls. More updates in a week – or two.

Posted in Hobbit Movie, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

‘The Hobbit: BOTFA’ and its shocking VFX exclusion from the Oscar race

One thing that isn’t great about being a fansite: Other outlets and readers treat anything we write as if it were written from a fan perspective. Sometimes that is true, sometimes it is false. As a result of this, we didn’t complain about Oscar Nominations; It just sounds like whining anyway.

For the record, while we are here, there are a few categories that are head scratchers though. The technical category omissions, in my opinion, are a mark against the awards. Films that win these categories generate buzz and these Hobbit films didn’t do that in the right way to win awards. All the folks who work on the film would say they didn’t get into the business to win awards and they are only a bit of extra icing anyway.

But WIRED, not a fansite, has a video series about special visual effects and the series is highly watchable, educational and interesting. (Special effects are things that happen on set.) Staffer Justin pointed out this video from the series where the host expresses real surprise that BOTFA didn’t get a nom. He has some wonderful details about the attack on Lake-town in particular (a favorite set piece of mine, burning or not) and the advancement of the computer program MASSIVE created for the battles in the LOTR films. The folks in New Zealand were pushing boundaries as they do every single time.

It is well worth a watch and it lights a fire under me, at least, to get annoyed that Weta Digital didn’t get an Oscar nom for Best Visual Effcts — except they did get one for “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.” That does mean Gentleman Joe Letteri will be in Los Angeles so on Oscar night, after he attended previous parties, we will be sure to invite him to our celebration this year. (more…)

Posted in Crew News, Hobbit Movie, Joe Letteri, Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, TheOneRing.net Community

LOTR location scout Dave Comer dies

FlowersSome sad news has reached us as one of the unsung contributors to the LOTR films has passed. He was notable in New Zealand for his locations work on the LOTR films among other things, including his world-class photography. We certainly give a nod and our condolences to friends and family. From New Zealand media:

“Dave Comer, the man who helped redefine New Zealand as Middle-earth, lost his battle with cancer on Christmas Day.

A still photographer with a huge love of Fiordland, he was instrumental in selecting the spectacular locations for the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies.

Comer, who may be considered New Zealand’s first film location scout, was involved in numerous Kiwi and overseas commercials and was the director of celebrated Fiordland film Ata Whenua – Shadowland.
To read more about this remarkable man, CLICK HERE

Posted in LotR Movies

‘Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’ is flowing gold in opening week

moneyThe marketing campaign of #OneLastTime for “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” might have been a little short-sighted as now that most readers of TheOneRing.net and other rabid Tolkien fans have seen the film (sorry Australia friends, paddle over to New Zealand) studios are probably thinking they should have gone with #OneDozenMoreTimes.

But the Sting can’t be too great, because the film is creating liquid gold that is flowing from consumers around the world. Rentrack, that tracks such things, shows that it has a robust domestic box office, so the little film from New Zealand has earned $90 million in Yankee coin. That is a more than solid five-day total and while it could have optimally earned closer to $100 million, that number is far from disappointing. In fact, the studios should use it to pour a floor like the one in Thorin’s hall of madness to, you know, impress the other studios.

The film has such white-hot, world-wide appeal however, that unlike some films that rely on U.S. consumers, this film hardly needs them in its march to $1 billion. Now, to be clear, that billion with a “B” sounds pretty nice but should the movie “only” make, say $900 million, all but inevitable now, that is still a pretty incredible figure. Our consumer brains like to hear the “B,” but the movie is a hit either way and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUGGlobally, it is on fire, doing great business in virtually every territory, sucking up a figure of $265 million since its open. Both the previous Hobbit movies earned more than $700 million internationally and this film is ahead of those in virtually every market. Domestic tracking would put it at $250 million plus for a conservative total of $950 million. My gut tells me the sentimental “last chance for Middle-earth in the theater” (you are welcome movie studio marketing departments) will give this film a little extra run. So the real question is: Will the Hobbit make more than the last Transformers movie? That shows at Boxofficemojo.com with a total of $1.08 billion. One of those two films is destined to be the biggest financially of the year. I generally dislike movie vs. movie comparisons, but I am both cheering for WB’s fantasy flick and against Michael Bay’s painful, loud snooze fest.

TOTALS: Domestic: $ 90.6 million + International: $265 million = Total worldwide: $355.6 million.

It is funny how big hits like “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and “The Lego Movie,” both fall well short of that $1 billion mark and are praised as giant successes — which they are. But, anybody remember some of the negative buzz with last year’s “Desolation of Smaug” being “disappointing?” It only made $958 million. Before that, some folks tried to say “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” was “doomed to failure” and then when it obviously wasn’t doomed or a failure, it was then termed as “not quite so bad, but still has no shot at $1 billion.”

First, that is just an arbitrary mark that looks good on a resume but it did cross that arbitrary mark despite the cries of “failure.” Bad buzz, even when it is fake, can hurt the box office. I got mad and wrote Death of ‘Hobbit’ at box office greatly exaggerated. I will not lie, punching holes in absurd journalism made it one of my favorite pieces I have ever put together for TORn. Also, it is relevant to how BOTFA is kicking some trash. So yeah, I had to link to it #OneLastTime.

PJ_Carrow_Bruno2Guardians will out-earn Hobbit in the U.S., but can’t touch it internationally. Marvel/Disney’s world-wide total will be approximately the same as Hobbit’s international-only money. Warners could have let everybody in the U.S. watch it for free and it would have earned the same as Guardians. #NotAFailure

The latest Hunger Games flick, “Mockingjay: Part 1,” is sitting around $640 million for its world total. Great numbers, but not Hobbit numbers. And Lego, as great a success as it is (and a great movie), isn’t half Hobbit 3’s final — even with Gandalf in it. In fact BOTFA is closing in on it fast.

BONUS TEASERS: While we are here, I will take a second to tease a pretty incredible Ian McKellen interview coming in the next day or so. That sounds immodest of me to say since it is my piece, but it is the journalist getting out of the way and letting Sir Ian talk. I really think it will connect with readers. He spoke at length about a lot of things including who else he thinks could have played Gandalf in The Hobbit films if he decided not to return. We also have some exclusive set photos of Peter Jackson coming in a day or two, one of which I included here in a small version. And if you haven’t heard, we are throwing a party! Details below.

_____________________________________________________

Join us in Los Angeles in February at The One Last Party

one last party logo We’re hosting a Party of Special Magnificence next February — a toast to all SIX movies, both LOTR trilogy and The Hobbit.

Visit our Indiegogo campaign page to grab your tickets and help make it happen — so we can all celebrate Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth movies together!

Posted in Events, Headlines, Hobbit Movie, Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, J.R.R. Tolkien, MGM, New Line Cinema, Oscar Parties, Studios, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Tolkien, Warner Bros.

The mythology of Middle-earth explained in four short minutes

Making the complex simple and easy to digest has great value. A fellow on YouTube has been doing this for a while and now he has picked the mythology of Middle-earth to break down in a four-minute video. (And yes, we immediately wondered why we didn’t do this!) He uses spoken words, simple illustrations and iconic figures to blow through J.R.R. Tolkien’s mythology. The big overview ads value to the movie-going experience — like if you went to see “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” for example — or any of the various Middle-earth movies and gives viewers some idea of what all the ruins sitting around might be from. Finally, it might encourage somebody to go pick up a book!

Here it is, the broad view of old Middle-earth in four minutes:


Join us in Los Angeles in February at The One Last Party

one last party logo We’re hosting a Party of Special Magnificence next February — a final toast to all SIX movies, both The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit trilogy.

We’re inviting you to join us and make it happen through our Indiegogo campaign — so we can all celebrate Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth movies together!

Visit our campaign page and find out how you can help!

Posted in Hobbit Book, Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, LotR Books, Other Tolkien books, Silmarillion, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Tolkien

Peter Jackson talks ‘Hobbit: BotFA’ and all Middle-earth with TheOneRing.net

HBT3-bs-343122.DNG

 

MIRAMAR, New Zealand — The director’s tent. Inside a sound stage or outside on location, it is a constant and central fixture on a movie shoot. It is home base for Peter Jackson and his team.

It is sacred ground – well almost.

The decisions made inside it, by the team, under Jackson’s direction, are crucial to the project where it is determined what will later happen in front of the camera.

So every day, whatever happens to a set or a soundstage overnight, the tent is there set up and waiting for the core of the shooting unit.

Editor Jabez Olssen, Script Supervisor Victoria Sullivan and First Assistant Director Carolynne Cunningham call it home during the shoot. Cunningham is out a lot, Olssen and Sullivan less so and Producer Zane Weiner is always near. Jackson’s assistant Sebastian Meek is in and out at all times, bringing badly needed tea and watching the door from outside to eliminate distractions inside.

Jackson lives on tea and Meek has a talent for having it handy at the perfect moment.

Jackson7SETTING THE SCENE

In April, 2012, as a representative of fandom via TheOneRing.net, to be on set during five weeks of the filming of the Hobbit films. At the time, it was still scheduled to be two movies and the production had just settled in to shoot in studio instead of on location. Much was unknown then, that now is completely familiar to fans.

When I first arrived at Stone Street Studios, the publicity team took me to set, showed me the ropes and left me to my own devices during the rest of my stay to meet folks and get interviews, which was great. No time and no need for babysitting.

I was there to be a good guest and to observe. Two weeks later I was definitely convinced I had no chance of talking to Peter Jackson, except for an occasional, “Hello, how are you getting on?” from him during my time there.

Fans world-wide know from production diaries, how exhausted Jackson gets during the shooting phase of filmmaking. It is important to really understand why.

Peter Jackson is a busy guy. Particularly when he is shooting, there is a lot to do in a day and a lot of people that need to understand his vision in order to do their jobs well; he is the hub of the great spinning wheel.

Peter JacksonHe is the director, a writer and a producer — each a big job on its own. Many films have one of each of those, or several of some, all working together. But Jackson was all of them at once and combining titles didn’t mean there was less work to be done. Just because he was reviewing shots didn’t mean the script didn’t need his touch or that the art department didn’t need his input as a director or the next day’s schedule didn’t need approval. Others were partners on all of these fronts but they also required Jackson.

In a day he might need to meet with the effects supervisor, set designers, concept designers, costume designers, the composer or see actual costumes for approval or changes to name just a few of the many things that require his time. He will confirm the schedule with his Assistant Director, producers and spend time with the Second Unit Director Andy Serkis to make sure all is to his liking. They need sets built, greens grown, sets decorated, concept guys working ahead, materials guys building everything, maximizing actors’ time, feeding all of those people, screening extras, bringing in the right number of prosthetic artists and on and on. In short, there is never a shortage of people who need Jackson’s input to work on his vision and it takes the logistics of, dare I say, planning a battle with five armies.

In short, he has to sign off on pretty much everything.

Those are the reasons “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” and his other Hobbit movies are genuinely Peter Jackson movies. It also means he is booked.

Solid.

THE FINAL HOURS

And so it was, the last day of my time on The Hobbit set, after several assurances that it would happen — it did.

Lunch happened and on the location set of Dale, up on a hill, I was invited to that director’s tent to sit and talk with PJ, just the two of us alone. (One editor asked me if we ate together in the tent but I don’t think so, but why many memories are crystal clear of that meeting, I just have no idea.)

I had been inside before, but not often. The day I shadowed him, I spent several hours, trying to melt into the background. This was his sanctuary and office.

Posted in Alan Lee, Andy Serkis, Characters, Crew News, Director news, Director Rumors, Evangeline Lilly, Fans, Fran Walsh, Headlines, Hobbit Book, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, J.R.R. Tolkien, Locations Sets, LotR Movies, MrCere in New Zealand, New Zealand, Orlando Bloom, Other Tolkien books, Peter Jackson, Production, Silmarillion, Studios, Terry Notary, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Tolkien, Tolkien Estate, Uncategorized, Warner Bros.