When TheOneRing.net marked its 10th anniversary in 2009, we celebrated in style. In fact, we had such a good time, we decided to continue to celebrate every year on April 26, the date that TORn was established.
Founders Day is TheOneRing.net’s official holiday, filled with the best that a virtual party can offer. If you’re new(er) to the site, it’s a chance to find out about the roots of the site, about the four founders, and to say thanks to the people who keep this place going.
Note:A photo gallery follows the text and videos, click for larger versions.
The mill at Hobbiton Movie Set
NEW ZEALAND — During the world premiere of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” New Zealand wisely took the opportunity to show journalists from around the world (and Australia) a lot of the amazing things its island nation has to offer. TheOneRing.net was part of one of the tours and rather than regurgitate all the footage, photos and writing we gathered at once, exactly when all the other journalism outlets of the world did, we thought it would be great to disperse it and share it over the course of 2013 in the lead up to “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.”
After all, Tourism New Zealand’s motto is “New Zealand is Middle-earth” and this is true in so many ways and for much longer than just the weeks after the debut of the film. For example, above is the video made for TORn by fellow filmmaker Dan McBride who shot and edited the video tour you probably have already watched. We, and a gaggle of other media, toured the Hobbiton Movie Set and witnessed Prime Minister John Key open the new Green Dragon building accompanied by a bunch of actors who reminded us a whole lot of a company of Dwarves. (Incidentally, we had just talked to him the day before so when he showed up again, we wondered why we were being followed and what we had done wrong.)
The video speaks for itself but this remarkable property is, as far as I know, unique in all the world for its ability to transport visitors inside a book, or a movie for that matter. Being there doesn’t feel like walking on a set, rather it feels like immersion. It looks, smells, sounds and feels like one imagines Hobbiton would if you could take a magic wardrobe to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth. The Hobbit holes scattered about are, more or less, as they were for filming of “The Hobbit,” movies. It seems safe to assume we will see more of The Shire in subsequent movies and in the Extended Edition on home video before the end of the year.
At the Green Dragon
Meanwhile, not far from Auckland, sits this unique and amazing tourism experience. The still functioning sheep and cattle farm where the now-permanent movie set is placed, is owned by the Alexander family, as it was when discovered for “The Lord of the Rings,” films. Their television rugby match interrupted by strangers led to parts of the family farm being among the most beloved locations in fantasy film and literature. Now visitors take tours daily, either by booking directly through the farm or through travel agents, tours or cruise ships. There are several options available, including overnight farm stays, private tours and lunch options. Matamata, as authentic a small New Zealand town as you will find, serves as a gateway to the farm, offering transportation daily and had just opened a visitor’s center when we visited.
Hamilton is also near with more accommodations and an airport. Not far from Auckland, 160 kilometers in fact, visitors can easily manage the two hour car ride. It goes without saying that driving through the countryside is spectacular as well. My dream would be to meet with TheOneRing.net staff and friends in The Green Dragon, which can be reserved for private functions. They serve food and drink and I just bet you can guess what size the ale comes in. Weddings have and will happen here. The atmosphere and the finish on the place are just as good as you hope they are. In truth, for movies fans and Tolkien fans, the entire movie set experience is simply magic.
Waitomo Caves Black Water Rafting
Some tourists will hop off the cruise ship or land in Auckland and make the farm their only stop in the region and in my opinion if you made it all the way to New Zealand and don’t see more of the region you are doing it all wrong. The tour also provided us the opportunity to visit the world famous Waitomo caves. They contain the exceptionally cool glow worms and there are different ways to experience it all, including the black water rafting experience that I couldn’t resist. Hamilton serves as a good gateway to both spots and neither is to be missed. In the gallery below I will drop in a few Waitomo photos but it is an entirely different story to be told and if there is any need to explain the importance of caves to Middle-earth, you might be at the wrong website.
The region is full of food and drink, excellent accommodations and plenty more worth-while excursions. We will tackle them all in a future story. But add the farm visit and Waitomo Caves to your bucket lists. They really are wold-class destinations not to be missed but especially not by Tolkienites.
While you are here, please enjoy other videos from the premiere. First, actors talking about rings:
And Red Carpet highlights.
A map of the New Zealand region with Auckland and Matamata.
A detailed map of where The Hobbit Move Set is located near Matamata.
The door of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins.
Seems like a good place for a party
An average human male (Dan McBride) stands in front of a small Hobbit door.
The mill at Hobbiton Movie Set
Water at Hobbiton Movie set
They may not like boats but Hobbits have docks.
The visitor’s center in Matamata, New Zealand.
Flower at Hobbiton Movie Set
Actors look on at the opening ceremony of the Green Dragon
Still water, a view of Hobbiton Movie Set
For scale, an average sized adult (MrCere) at a Hobbit door.
A Hobbit window at Hobbiton Movie Set
Flowers and door at Hobbiton Movie Set
The interior of the Green Dragon
At the Green Dragon
By the lake and the mill sits the Green Dragon
The exterior of the Green Dragon
The bar at The Green Dragon
Detail of the carved green dragon in the Green Dragon
Floor plan on the wall of the Green Dragon of the Green Dragon.
Inside the Green Dragon
Door and menu at the Green Dragon
At the Green Dragon
Interior of the Green Dragon
Waitomo Caves black water rafting with glow worms.
What’s with all these new Reality Shows based on geeks, geekdom, and the passion of uber-geek fans? We just heard about THE AMAZING RACE producers launching a new series soon called “THE QUEST” all on the heels of FANBOYS screenwriter getting his new show “GEEK OUT” on AMC. Come with us and explore the next wave of television programming tailored to and inspired by our Sci-Fi / Fantasy audience! Welcome aboard our weekly live webcast (every Tuesday at 5:00pm Pacific Time) filled with all things Hobbity and a good deal more. TORn TUESDAY will begin in less than half an hour, hosted by Clifford “Quickbeam” Broadway and Justin Sewell, bringing you up-to-date info and all the rumors we can fit into an hour. We have Barliman’s Chatroom ready to go and lots of fun planned on our Live Event Page here. See you at 5pm!
The creative forces behind television’s “The Amazing Race” wants to put Tolkienites, including TheOneRing.net readers, in a competition based reality show with a fantasy flair. TheOneRing.net spoke with casting director Paul Gordon about the new series that is coming to a major television network this year. Expect an announcement and promotion soon.
“There is a potential for people to live out their dreams and we want to give them a platform,” Gordon said.
The concept of the show, called “The Quest,” is to put fans of genre entertainment in a competitive environment tailored to highlight participants’ love of fantasy and adventure.
“It is cool, it is “The Amazing Race” in Middle-earth.”
A “Lord of the Rings,” Executive Producer is also on board. The project has been on the drawing board for a while, but now all the pieces are together – except finding the cast.
“We don’t do profile shows – this is not ‘Jersey Shore.’ This is not ‘Honey Boo Boo.’ The drama here is not, ‘That B!#@% stole my milk!’ There is no contrived drama, we don’t need it.”
Instead, the show wants to find people willing dive in fully and accept the quest to be a hero.
“We want people who are willing to go there with us. We want people who love this stuff. We are definitely looking for personalities – competitive people – not people sitting in a house. You are competing. Where it is LARP or D&D or baseball or basketball, you are going to get revved up.”
TORn tried to find a lead on age or interest or demographic or type that would help land roles but Gordon insisted that on a big network, they were casting a wide net, looking for personality and especially one character trait: “We love people who are competitive – we want this to be important, we want to see them go for it. They might be quiet competitive, might be sneaky competitive, there are many different ways to be competitive.”
He also tried to stress that there are television shows around that poke fun at those invested in niche entertainment and that is not this show.
“Big networks go after everybody (for their audience) and we also look at it as a teaching show. People look at things like DragonCon as unusual – we want people to understand why people do this.
“People laugh at this and say that is not our thing and a lot of what we like to do is teach people.”
“It is so similar, it is shocking to me. It is more familiar than you realize. There are whole sections at Eagles games – people go there and pretend they are something else and think they affect this thing. If they only knew how similar they are!”
Those wishing to enter the selection process can do so by email or by showing up in select cities at early-season conventions to meet with the Emmy winning folks behind the camera. Anybody able to show up in person at the following events, he promised, will be considered.”If you show up to an event, we will look at every single person. ”
The production will be looking in the following cities:
Seattle (coinciding with EMP Fantasy Exhibit Opening) – April 25
Chicago- C2E2 – April 27
Texas – Dallas Comic Con – May 18th
Phoenix – Comic Con - May 25
New York - No event planned yet, will hold VIP invite event for those in the area who apply
Philadelphia – Wizard Con – May 1
This Thursday Gordon will be in Seattle to meet potential candidates, mail TheQuestCasting@gmail.com with the subject RSVP Seattle. They want your name, age, location, a photo, your interest and why you would be perfect for the show.
But anybody in fandom can send in an application to TheQuestCasting@gmail.com, Seattle or no. Include in that email: Your name:
Your hobby/fascination: (Tolkien, Game of Thrones, LARPing, Cosplay) What makes you perfect for a show like this:
If they like what they see, they can schedule an interview or, worst case, they will Skype with candidates.
“We have 13 Emmy’s, nine with Amazing Race. No one (in reality shows) can say that. We are doing award-winning stuff and we never do a show that is fake.”
Profiles Television is behind the show.
So where will all this happen?
“I can’t tell you,” Gordon said, “But it is pretty freaking cool.”
There once was a little hashtag looking for a cause. Over the past eleven days, #VoteBilbo became a lightning rod of attention and excitement among Ringer fans the world over. In the words of another reporter: “it went beyond viral.” A resounding victory was pulled off by the unlikeliest fandom — an unorthodox lovefest — for an unexpected little hero. Here’s the story of how TheOneRing.net galvanized a remarkable fan audience to achieve a sweet victory!
It started when this year’s MTV Movie Awards announced their vote-in contest for the category “Best Hero” — allowing Instagram and Twitter users to employ hashtags like #VoteIronMan or #VoteHulk — and especially of interest to this phenomenon #VoteBilbo. A few days actually went by without us even noticing there was a contest. Over Easter weekend the staff of TheOneRing.net was working to deliver a great presentation before packed crowds (many hundreds in the standing-room-only hall) at WonderCon, happening right on the tail of a very successful April Fool’s Day prank — so no wonder we were looking elsewhere.
TheOneRing.net first brought attention to the contest on April 3rd with this tweet:
We saw that Kristen Stewart’s character Snow White (from that hunky HUNTSMAN movie) had a stunning 13,556 votes, far more than the other nominees… while poor Mr. Baggins was in very last place with only 226 votes. A pathetic showing that would have me old Gaffer shaking his head in shame.
By using Twitter to muster our troops, within a mere 24 hours we saw a mighty surge of thousands of votes — yes THOUSANDS — and it kept going strong from there. We hit the Twitterverse so hard that #VoteBilbo started trending, everyone outside of our community actually picked up on it, K.Stew quickly lost her lead (causing her fanbase to respond), and thus “The Great Battle of the Fandoms” was in full swing.
We realized that TWILIGHT: BREAKING DAWN fans were supporting their chosen actress, *not* the character she portrayed, a bit of irony not lost on us. The category “Best Hero” did not really mean “Best Actress You’re A Fan Of From Another Franchise Because You Didn’t Really Watch This Movie.” Their rigorous support for the actress rather than the character made the whole contest a bit of a sham, in that context. Rather unfair, in this Ent’s personal opinion, that a true statement of how we regard our heroes was being skewed so badly. Undoubtedly Twi-hards have been a huge segment of MTV’s target audience, and plenty of naysayers told us that we didn’t have a chance to tip the scales. We were glad to have a challenge: a task to show what genuine fan-love of a heroic character really looks like, with numbers not seen since the Muster of Rohan!
The meteoric trending of #VoteBilbo caught everyone’s attention. Warner Bros. Pictures officially supported the effort with this missive from their Twitter account ‘TheHobbitMovie’ on April 5th, which spurred tens of thousands of new votes:
Our burglar, Bilbo Baggins, is nominated for Best Hero atthe 2013 MTV Movie
The other nominees were floundering: Batman and Catwoman were left in the dust of a deserted Gotham City as Bilbo VS. Snow White became a runaway viral showdown. But the numbers were not quite right. Certain fake Twitter accounts (spam-style “bots”) were discovered processing blank-except-for-the-hashtag #VoteSnowWhite tweets, but they were reported and shut down. Our support for Mr. Baggins was quite organic, and the funny thing was that votes were not coming from some hardcore group of Martin Freeman supporters, though they exist, but rather from Tolkien-lovers who really wanted to make a true statement about Bilbo Baggins.
April 6th proved to be a huge day! The media-watch group WHO TRENDED IT? posted this tweet on April 6th, giving TORn proper credit:
Guess what ! #votebilbo trending in the US ? @theoneringnet did it ! Now, that’s badass. Even as a cold hearted robot, I’m impressed.
Within his wonderful vote-tracker page we could see exactly what was going on, relative to the timing of our announcements on TheOneRing.net (and our Facebook timeline and Twitter, of course). When there was doubt our votes were less than stellar, we rallied again!
Stars from the LOTR Film Trilogy and even newer actors from THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY jumped on board! Their timing was perfect — and because these actors are actually paying attention to what fans are saying on Twitter, it felt like a genuine grassroots effort was brewing. We had tweets from Dominic Monaghan (Meriadoc Brandybuck) and Dean O’Gorman (the dwarf Fili) on the same day Evangeline Lilly (upcoming new character Tauriel) retweeted our comments — pleased as we were to ultimately learn that retweets counted as full votes!):
More ambitious creative folks within our Ringer ranks started posting videos designed to bring a smile to your face as well as playfully jab at Bella Swan — and MTV reported on it, realizing that the race was getting quite aggressive between the two camps. ‘If you liked it then you shoulda put a Ring on it’ had a whole new meaning with Speigel Ei’s Vimeo clip:
“HOBBIT fans went straight for the gut of Team #VoteSnowWhite,
who have to watch as several of the characters from Middle-earth court
Kristen Stewart to their side over Edward Cullen,” declared the MTV blog, and we realized this was indeed a chance to show our resplendent fandom in a unique way. The fact that we have been in love with Tolkien’s HOBBIT characters for 75 years since the book was first published supported the sky-high numbers of votes.
HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF VOTES POURED IN DAILY. When the final weekend of the Awards telecast began on April 13th, we broke 1 million votes. K.Stew voters were trying to keep up; sometimes we crossed above or below their high-end total. Fans started to create one-click Twitter vote buttons, and we supplied a host of #VOTEBILBO avatars and funny images to become viral memes. Fans started creating their own images (with familiar LOLcat fonts) and sharing them.
Our lovely lady friends Kili and Fili from our HAPPY HOBBIT video channel did a fun little P.S.A. style announcement asking Ringers to bring their votes to bear! We were really building momentum as a community. There was more spirited fun to be had with this contest than we first suspected!
Did we have crossover from other fantasy fans? You betcha! *wink* GAME OF THRONES featured our very own Sean Bean (Boromir) in the first season and of course it was appropriate for him to support his halfling friend.
We were not just sending empty or meaningless tweets with a hashtag in place — we wanted to make this relevant. In an effort to really bring our feelings and honest passion to the center stage, TORn decided to host a concentrated “Tweet Quest” on Sunday April 14th, the day of the MTV Movie Awards. During a tightly-concentrated 1-hour block, and then another encore 1-hour, we asked Ringers to declare why Bilbo should be named ‘Best Hero.’ So we put forward the call to arms.
Boy oh boy, did they respond with a flood of hobbity lovin’!
Fans declared things that mattered to us, that mattered to readers, and as lovers of Tolkien we could certainly relate: “#VoteBilbo because he was the one person who willingly let the Ring go, when no one else could,” was my personal favorite sentiment. We have an audience that included older-generation folks who had never used Twitter, so we gave quick and easy instructions to help guide our friends toward their goal. We provided everything we could — and most importantly we gave this effort true SPIRIT.
It was a phenomenal success. In the end the final tally was:
Giving our furry-footed reluctant adventurer a lead of well over 100,000 to claim the win! Although MTV broadcast the announcement of the winner as a throw-away commercial bumper for Axe body spray (indeed it was shown offstage, not really part of the “actual ceremony”), and although no cast member from THE HOBBIT film was present to receive the award, we here at TheOneRing.net were entirely thrilled to have succeeded with a kind of social networking wizardry that was fueled by you, dear readers.
Such a long way to go from only 226 votes! Such an outpouring of love!
One of our volunteer staffers, Magpie, had this to say: “It was like a flash mob. We did it for us (Wedefined as the greater Tolkien fan community with TORn functioning a major player in focusing that fan community). It was a community campaign that was an event in itself.”
Staffer Justin who produces our Live webcasts and our weekly show TORn TUESDAY had this to say: “Over 27,000 Bilbo pictures on
Instagram in one week! Take a look at all the comments and tweets we got, there is something for everyone to run with. Thank you all for making #votebilbo happen. I received several messages at the beginning saying I was ‘crazy’ and it was ‘Folly against Twi-hards,’ ‘Who cares about MTV,’ and ‘What’s the point of a stupid teenage online popularity contest?’ But this is why fans love being fans. Achieving something together. To Prove Their Quality.”
And that, my friends, is indeed the feeling I have at the end of the day. That we have stood up with a flag of unity once again. That we have proven our quality of thinking creatively and acting with great energy! It feels like it was months in the making but it happened over such a very short length of time (making it the more surprising).
The love that brings us together is our love of J.R.R. Tolkien and his works are evergreen. No separation of older to younger generations or access to technology can slant that. The truth will out!
Hulk sad. Too bad.
Batman gave up the ghost. Because we are the most.
Iron Man clad in shame. Shoulda played his own game.
Catwoman felt an itchy pox. Put kitty back in her smelly box.
Snow White drifted. Twi-hards were sifted (out).
But #BilbotheHero wins the day! We wouldn’t have it any other way.
Much too hasty,
Follow Cliff “Quickbeam” Broadway on Twitter: @quickbeam2000
The MTV Movie Awards just announced that Bilbo beat out all the other contenders, including Iron Man, The Hulk, Catwoman, Batman, and Snow White, for the coveted “Best Hero” award. A massive fan effort that spanned continents lead to Bilbo’s victory by a margin of more than 100,000 votes. Using the hashtag #votebilbo, fans cast their votes on Twitter and Instagram and forged a dedicated fellowship committed to showing the world that even the smallest person can change the course of the future.
With more than 1.63 million votes, Bilbo was the clear winner, much to the chagrin of legions of Kristen Stewart and Twilight fans who gave our little hobbit a run for the money. In addition to tweeting, fans created thousands of images that they uploaded to Instagram to share their love for our favorite hero. We’ll have a gallery of some of our favorites online soon.
It’s been a true adventure riding the wild voting rollercoaster, and it’s brought many Ringers together and strengthened our community. From #votebilbo, we’re now united under #BilboTheHero. Click to read about how TORn’s MrCere went from thinking this campaign was “harmless but pretty useless,” to wholeheartedly jumping on board the #votebilbo train as, “A funny thing happened during the process: It became really fun on Twitter to #VoteBilbo!”
Readers will already know about the hashtag war going on out there, from Rasputin the Evil Balrog’s post here and MrCere’s post here. The MTV Movie Awards are this weekend, so we have about twenty-four hours to go, to get as many #votebilbo counts out there as possible. Ringers cannot be beaten! – and here’s proof that, for amazing creativity, that’s certainly true. This brilliant video, created by Speigel Ei, shows that even Bella Swan would be won over by the genius that is Lord of the Rings. #votebilbo today!
Welcome to our collection of TORn’s hottest topics for the past week. If you’ve fallen behind on what’s happening on the Message Boards, here’s a great way to catch the highlights. Or if you’re new to TORn and want to enjoy some great conversations, just follow the links to some of our most popular discussions. Watch this space as every weekend we will spotlight the most popular buzz on TORn’s Message Boards. Everyone is welcome, so come on in and join in the fun!
With sincere apologies to our local and international online audience: there will not be a TORn TUESDAY live webcast today, as you’ve probably surmised by now. We return to the digital airwaves next week, Tuesday April 16th, at 5:00pm PDT. We are working on several surprising guest interviews and some other mischief you will all enjoy! This particular missed episode today was our chance to talk about the current fan-voting for the MTV Movie Awards BEST HERO category — an online showdown between K. Stewart’s Snow White and M. Freeman’s Bilbo Baggins, as two separate camps of fandom massively point and click to the tune of TENS OF THOUSANDS OF VOTES! This heated contest continues right now with every Tweet and Instagram post, right up until next Sunday’s broadcast of the Awards. Keep tweeting dear Ringer friends! Bilbo is currently ahead — but the armies of prepubescent Twi-hards are loathe to give up this public crowning of their dear Miss Homewrecker Stewart as “best hero” (which seems quite absurd since we know the real hero of that movie was actually the Huntsman, played with Asgardian might by Chris Hemsworth. But I digress… Until next Sunday keep up the Tweets with hashtag #VoteBilbo and we will surely win the day! See you next week Ringer faithful!
Our TORn community all know he’s the bravest little hobbit of them all, but the world needs to know, too! A few days ago, TORn staffer MrCere posted a call to arms. The MTV Movie Awards are asking the public to choose the Best Hero of 2012 using Twitter or Instagram. Our favorite Hobbit, Bilbo, is running neck and neck with (can you believe this?) Snow White. This cannot stand! We need to mobilize our community to show our support for the Master of Bag End.
Use the link above or choose from one of the #votebilbo messages below and tweet your support now! We’ve provided 20 more automatic tweets below. Just click on the vote link and you will be automatically setting up your next tweet. Tweet early, and tweet often. You can also use #votebilbo to share your vote through your Instagram account. MTV says, “Get creative on Instagram—dress up as your favorite hero, tag a selfie, etc. Any photo with the hashtag is a vote, but only the best will be displayed… during the Movie Awards!”
Louisville may have won the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament last night, but the only match-up that Middle-earth fans were watching was that between Thorin Oakenshield and Gandalf the Grey. After an initial significant lead, Thorin’s army of fans brought him back from the depths. These two popular Hobbit characters scraped and scrounged for every single vote resulting in an amazingly close final.
As promised, we carefully reviewed the voting process and as it turns out, we are pleased to report there was not a lot of significant over-voting. Any small adjustments made did not affect the final result. So without further delay, we are pleased to announce that the 2013 Middle-earth March Madness Champion is….
See the UPDATE below for final tallies and some additional notes on voting.
This site is maintained and updated by fans of The Lord of the Rings, and is in no way affiliated with Tolkien Enterprises or the Tolkien Estate. We in no way claim the artwork displayed to be our own. Copyrights and trademarks for the books, films, articles, and other promotional materials are held by their respective owners and their use is allowed under the fair use clause of the Copyright Law.