Archive for the ‘Hobbit Movie’ Category
Richard Armitage and Amy Ryan in rehearsal
Coming to New York ComicCon and looking for something to do in the evenings? Well, after you have been to TORn’s party on Thursday night, why not go and see Thorin himself on stage?
Richard Armitage is starring in Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of Love, Love, Love. Written by Mike Bartlett and directed by Tony Award winner Michael Mayer, this new play is part of Roundabout’s 50th anniversary season. Their press release tells us:
‘It’s the late 1960s in a north London flat, and Henry is excitedly anticipating the arrival of his date, Sandra. The night changes course when Sandra and Henry’s brother Kenneth quickly realize how much they have in common—their love of Rock and Roll and their love of marijuana, for starters. A fiery relationship is sparked in the haze of the 60s, and charred by today’s brutal realities. Fast forward twenty-three years, and the economy and politics of an ever-changing world are wearing on the marriage of this baby boomer couple. Can they remain faithful to each other while trying to provide a loving and supportive home for their children—children who are growing up in a time when the next generation is not always provided for? Spanning more than four decades, this dark comedy is the story of what happens when the free-loving teens of the 60s face the harsh realities of today’s world. From passion to paranoia, Love, Love, Love takes on the baby boomer generation as it retires, and finds it full of trouble.’
Love, Love, Love is currently in previews, and the limited run goes until December 18th. It’s on at the Laura Pels Theatre, at the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre in Manhattan. You can purchase tickets here.
Posted in Conventions, Events, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, NYCC, Richard Armitage, Stage Productions, The Hobbit
It’s that time again – New York ComicCon is just around the corner! We’re looking forward to see our fellow fans in the Big Apple!
You can find us at the convention at Booth 3164 – please note, this is NOT where we have been before. (This year we could only get an ‘inline’ booth – so don’t look for us on a corner!) As ever, we’ll have t-shirts and buttons for sale, as well as the usual cool giveaways and fun stuff. This year is an election year even in Middle-earth! These are the shirts which will be available:
Shirt comes in regular cut, ‘Sports Grey’
Back of the Feel the Burn shirt (comes in ‘Sports Grey’)
Front only design, comes in regular cut ‘Metro Blue’ and fitted cut ‘Antique Cherry’
Posted in Clothing, Conventions, Evangeline Lilly, Events, Fans, Graham McTavish, Hobbit Movie, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, Merchandise, NYCC, The Hobbit, TheOneRing.net Community
INVITE YOUR FRIENDS! SPREAD THE WORD! BRING FOOD & DRINK!
Southern California Tolkien fans are invited to join in the merriment of TORN’s Annual Baggins Birthday Bash, which will take place on Saturday, Sept 24, 2016 starting at noon in El Dorado Park in Long Beach, the Arbor Day Grove. Because this is a Regional Park, there is a $7 entrance fee, for parking. The advantage, there really is a lot of parking, the disadvantage, no in/out privileges so you may want to carpool.
Map and Directions Added Below!!!
We will be celebrating the Birthday of both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, and rejoicing in each other’s fellowship. THIS IS NOT A POTLUCK ANYMORE. Bring food and drink for yourself and your party. If you wish to share something, no one will turn it down and it will go on a public table.
Costumes are encouraged, and we may have a prize or two for the most beautifully or most creatively attired lads and ladies. There will also be fun and games, as usual, depending on who wishes to participate.
Schedule – to be posted closer to the event on our Facebook Event Page.
Birthday Cake – A Creative Middle-earth Cake decorating contest open to anyone. So get creative, bake a cake or cupcakes and have fun decorating it in whatever Middle-earth style you prefer. This will actually be a Juried event with a prize for the Cake or Cupcakes deemed the most creative. Please know that heat may play havoc with your cake, so make plans for that eventuality. We will know better the week of the party. We will begin the Cake judging at 2pm to avoid the melting problem of last year.
RSVP by leaving a note on our Facebook Event Page, or send an email to Garfeimao@theonering.net.
Standard things everyone may want to bring to the picnic include: picnic blanket, lawn chairs, hat and sunscreen and a smile. Maybe a pop up tent as well, shade is always at a premium, although there are a lot more trees at this park.
We are no longer hosting this as a “Potluck”, but rather as a Bring your Own picnic, anything you wish to share, you can, but do make sure you have enough for your party.
There are a few items that would be nice to bring that could be shared, including the following:
Beverages, Ice and ice chests, Supplies – packs of paper plates, plastic cups, boxes of mixed flatware (plastic knives, forks and spoons), napkins, trash bags and table covers. Repeating Ice Chests and Ice.
PLEASE BE SURE TO POST WHAT YOU’RE BRINGING TO SHARE ON THE FACEBOOK WALL SO THAT EVERYBODY KNOWS WHAT’S BEING BROUGHT AND WHAT STILL NEEDS TO BE BROUGHT.
The official address given by the park is 7550 E. Spring Street, Long Beach CA 90815, but this is actually the address of the Nature Center that is across the street from the park. The park entrance is on the same side of the street as the Dog Park and the El Dorado Archers. It is at the corner of E. Spring Street and El Dorado Park Road. There is a guard gate just as you turn off Spring Street where you have to pay an entrance fee of $7.00 per car – CASH ONLY. This includes being able to park in the lot near the picnic site. Make sure you enter the Park NOT the Nature Center.
Please check your favorite Map app to confirm correct directions from your location. There are not enough Rangers to spare to send out search parties for lost picnic-goers
From the North taking the 405 South.
Take Exit 24 Studebaker Road in Long Beach.
Take a sharp left onto N. Studebaker Road.
Continue on N. Studebaker Road 1.8 miles.
Turn Right on E. Spring St. and drive .08 miles.
Turn LEFT into El Dorado Park
From the North taking the 605 South
Take Exit 2B and merge onto E Spring Street.
Destination is on your right
From the South take 405 North to the 605 North.
Exit 1B off the 605 toward Willow Street..
Continue on E. Willow St. .09 miles
Turn Right on N. Studebaker Rd. Drive .05 miles
Turn Right onto E. Spring St. Drive .08 miles
Posted in Baggins Birthday Bash, Events, Fans, Fellowship of the Ring, Hobbit Book, Hobbit Movie, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, LotR Books, LotR Movies, Meet Ups, Movie Fellowship of the Ring, Movie Return of the King, Movie The Two Towers, Other Tolkien books, Return of the King, Silmarillion, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Two Towers, Tolkien
MAP (click for hi-res version)
Tonight we have several new items from our friends at Weta Workshop. The first of these new items was my personal favorite at this years San Diego Comic-Con.
The beautiful Lady Galadriel at Dol Guldur is without a doubt the best version of this character we’ve had a chance to add to any of our collections. This stunning piece comes in with an edition size of only 750 pieces world wide and can be purchased for $275. You can expect to have her in March of 2017.
The next two items continue the growing resurgence of the helm line. Fans can now add the helm of Dain Ironfoot as well as The Witch King as we see him at Dol Guldur during The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. Both the helms come in with a price tag of $79 and edition sizes of 750 pieces. If you manage to order all three helms that have been released so far by September 30th, 2016 by midnight (NZT) you can be in the running to get the #1/500 Uruk-Hai helm.
Posted in Cate Blanchett, Collectibles, Collectibles, ComicCon, Conventions, Events, Hobbit Movie, Merchandise, Shop, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Weta Collectibles, WETA Workshop
This week I had the pleasure of chatting with Stephen Hunter (Bombur) about his latest projects, his new website and his Vlogs. Enjoy!
Posted in Headlines, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, Stephen Hunter, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, TheOneRing.net Announcements, TheOneRing.net Community, Tolkien
New items are landing from our friends at Weta Workshop for Pre-Order.
We have the return of the 1:4 helm line that fans have been begging to have back. The new line leads off with the helm of Skully the Orc, who you may recall from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. This piece looked absolutely fantastic at Comic-Con, with the skull looking like the real bones from some poor soul. Skully’s helm can be had for $79 and is due to ship in quarter one of next year. (more…)
Posted in Collectibles, Collectibles, ComicCon, Conventions, Events, Hobbit Movie, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, Merchandise, Movie Return of the King, Shop, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Weta Collectibles, WETA Workshop
It’s that time of year again, when about half a million people converge on downtown Atlanta for the geekfest that is DragonCon. And TheOneRing.net will of course be there! We can’t wait to see all our friends and to enjoy Middle-earth fun together.
Some of the things which will be happening:
TheOneRing will have a ‘fan table’, as ever, where staffers deej and greendragon will be hard at work! We’ll be in our usual location in the Hyatt hotel, opposite the entrance to the Art Show. Come by and check out the new buttons and two new tshirt designs we’ll be unveiling this year!
Posted in Clothing, Conventions, Craig Parker, Dean O'Gorman, DragonCon, Events, Fans, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, Merchandise, Movie Fellowship of the Ring, Oscar Parties, Ryan Gage, The Hobbit, TheOneRing.net Community
Not to sound as alarmist as Fredegar Bolger rousing the Hobbit-folk in the wee hours of a peaceful Shire morning, but perhaps the time has come for fans of Howard Shore’s scores to sit up and reconcile themselves to a very dismaying possibility – that the unheard music of Middle-earth might well in fact never be heard.
It’s Earl, your soundtrack-obsessed TORn-staffer, and the reason I’m venturing to make this statement is because of the recently announced Limited Collector’s Edition of the movies, which makes it almost excruciatingly clear that the Warner Bros studio is so very, very far removed from knowing what fans really, truly want, and are willing to pay for.
Posted in Hobbit Movie, Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, Howard Shore, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, Music, Studios, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Warner Bros.
Greetings — Quickbeam here.
The forthcoming “Ultimate Collector’s Edition” 6-film Blu-ray set of both LOTR and HOBBIT has caused much consternation among Ringers, eliciting strong reactions across the board. Several of our Staff have published their excellent viewpoints (my op-ed is here) and our community feels energized like it was 15 years ago. (more…)
Posted in Blu-Ray, Director news, DVDs, Fans, Headlines, Hobbit Movie, LotR Movies, Merchandise, Movie Fellowship of the Ring, Movie Return of the King, Movie The Two Towers, Other Merchandise, Peter Jackson, Studios, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, TheOneRing.net Community, TORn TUESDAYS Live!, Warner Bros.
No-one likes being taken for a sucker. And, frankly, the recent announcement of the Middle-earth blockbuster ka-pow edition (or whatever jargon-hype wording Warner Bros Home Entertainment is lobbing onto it) certainly has that feel.
It’s the same content repackaged into a bookcase that you or I might have thrown together in high-school woodworking. Yes the bookcase looks quite nice. And there’s a nice little booklet. Yes, all your discs come in nice faux-leather slipcases. Yes, it’s all in a big, glossy box created by professional designers (even if they’re using the same visual assets we’ve seen elventy-billion times).
But, ultimately, it’s still the same content.
And for eight hundred US dollars. Count them. (more…)
Posted in Headlines, Hobbit Movie, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, Studios, The Hobbit, Warner Bros.
Greetings, Quickbeam here.
What is all this business with a 30 disc Blu-ray “Ultimate” edition of LOTR and HOBBIT Trilogies? Why the heck is it priced at $800 when it contains nothing new from previous releases? If you’re curious to investigate the many details behind the sticker-shock; and the wave of fan outrage / bemusement that surrounds this story, then join me as we dig deeper to learn some interesting truths.
After the final Extended Edition of BOTFA came to us, most of the Tolkien fan community assumed it would get quieter around these parts. Ringers everywhere realized the #OneLastTime marketing hashtag epitomizing the theatrical run of the final Hobbit film had more truth to it than they wanted to admit. It was the realization that Peter Jackson’s uber-talented team of filmmakers and creative partners (including Michael Pellerin who created the glorious Appendices for both film trilogies) had, in truth, concluded their grand effort that began way back in 1999.
The “Middle-earth Saga” was now complete. No more films. No more Appendices.
But we still wanted more. And many times over the past 16+ years we heard from PJ himself, the writer/ producer/ director, that there *was* more! More fully-executed scenes that didn’t make the EE versions, more outtakes, more narrative threads tying the six films together, thousands of bloopers (this stuff has the quality of legend, since we have been waiting on it for so long), and always it was spoken of by the filmmakers with the feeling of: “Hold onto hope, fans, because someday I’m sure the studio will be interested in releasing this as a fuller, bigger, maxed-out Ultra Edition!”
Privately among our TORn Staff we have nicknamed this the “Unicorn Edition.” On the ROTK Extended Edition commentary track PJ refers to this many times as a possible “25th Anniversary Edition;” with a few laughs shared between Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens asking to “remind him” after all those years of several shots he had in mind.
My producer and co-host Justin has been talking about this for years on our livestream TORn Tuesday show. It’s aptly named: a Unicorn Edition that’s so ephemeral and seemingly out-of-reach. A version of these films where the unifying of all six would be complete; where that opening prologue of FOTR would see that single shot of Ian Holm finding the Ring replaced with a brief shot of Martin Freeman from AUJ. Where Saruman would actually find and hold a Palantir after the Battle of Dol Guldur in BOTFA. Where Tom Bombadil (!) would be referenced or appear in a cameo. Where we could see the outtakes of TTT where Arwen fights at Helm’s Deep – where Eowyn fiercely defends her kin as the Glittering Caves are attacked – reminding us how mercurial the filmmaking process actually is.
You’ll recall the Number One Rule of Show Business: “Always leave them wanting more.” That dusty adage perhaps holds clenching power over the weird situation we find ourselves in now. Or perhaps it’s because of the wrong-headed management by a strata of marketing people who have no business making such decisions. Perhaps it is the onus of financial reality that dictates everything that follows. Yeah, there’s millions of dollars at stake here.
Well, as you know by now: things are no longer quiet in the land of Ringers. We have a new controversy on our hands with the release of what Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has dubbed the “Ultimate Collector’s Edition” 6-film Blu-ray set.
Many of us are reacting with shock, and genuine SMH smack-my-head wide-eyed expressions of “THAT’S JUST RIDICULOUS!” (which I heard verbatim on the phone just now explaining to someone what was offered). Look at how people are responding on Amazon.com and right here on our Message Boards. You’d think rapturous applause would resound at the release of this supposed “Ultimate” package that unifies everything a Ringer could want. Except it clearly does not. It contains no new content, just very luxurious packaging. And it’s priced at U.S. $800 retail.
Someone on our Staff adroitly pointed out that you could get a ticket to New Zealand and get the real Middle-earth experience for that much. Another quipped: “Does Hobbit DNA come with this new set so we can clone our own Bilbo at home?”
So, hey, Warner Bros. are you listening? That’s not applause. Those are gasps. Mass shaking of heads in dismay doesn’t produce a sound but I can hear it quite clearly.
Bill Hunt over at The Digital Bits wrote an excellent op-ed piece [link here] that pretty much sums up how people are feeling. He, and others, had to check with WBHE to see if the price point was not a mistake. It isn’t.
Personally, I feel like the fans who have already spent their money double-dipping on Theatrical DVD’s and then Extended Editions in the early 2000’s (and *then* having to buy Blu-rays that made their advent later) are getting kicked in the teeth. I got to this point of indignation because I know what was really in store for us. But I also recognize the forces at work that brought us to this place.
The “physical disc” home video marketplace has been in decline for a long while. Consumers are shifting to their preference of streaming services, digitial downloads, etc. New tech has already arrived with 4K Ultra High-def televisions and content providers struggling to keep up. Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality is the next wave of influence we shall be caught up with (Pokemon Go, anyone?).
While it was a long-held belief that adding Special Features, Behind-the-Scenes documentaries, and other “value added” content to a disc would improve sales by enticing buyers to get the goodies, the studios ran the numbers and discovered that, no, it didn’t make much difference. People would buy the stripped-down movie-only disc as much as the fancier version. The studios asserted then that after spending money on producers/ writers/ editors to make spiffy added content for discs they still didn’t see increased sales. It became a tougher prospect to get more added into a home video release of anything; as with all business they were watching their bottom line.
I’ve heard from many sources that Michael Pellerin himself had quite a fight on his hands with Warner Bros. to keep the same format of continuing “The Appendices” on the Extended Editions of HOBBIT. The studio didn’t want to match what was done years earlier for LOTR because it cost a pretty penny to make those beautiful extras, believe me. It took a lot of convincing to get the materials and coverage and do honor to the filmmakers’ efforts. It very nearly didn’t happen. We are all thankful that it did.
The studio has overspent themselves in the past with regard to a splashy home video release. Let me tell you a wee story:
Before Warner Bros. completely ‘absorbed’ them, the LOTR Trilogy VHS tapes and early DVDs were released by New Line Home Entertainment. On June 28, 2011, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment spent a ton of money on a special party in Los Angeles for the “Ultimate” LOTR Trilogy Blu-ray Extended Editions that was to the be single must-own item for Ringers. At this release event, staged at a Best Buy parking lot on the west side of L.A., they held a locked down parking lot disrupting the store for over 9 hours, caging off an area expecting about 2,000 fans or more to queue up and be part of the spectacle that included John Noble and Sala Baker as the special stars from the cast. The live-feed from New Zealand brought us Oscar-winner Sir Richard Taylor and our friend WETA artist/author Daniel Falconer together to livestream their review and judging of a highly-anticipated “Ultimate Fan Costume Contest” sponsored by Air New Zealand that was won by a super-creative fan for her saucy “Vegas Showgirl Balrog” outfit. I remember it so vividly because I’d been asked to M.C. the stage event – it was quite something. If you’d seen the Gollum-shaped fireworks display atop the Best Buy parking lot you would’ve sworn this was a million-dollar blowout party held by an indulgent Saudi Prince who happened to love Tolkien.
This spectacle was, from New Line’s perspective, a huge bust. 2,000 people didn’t show up. About 45, tops. The low turnout at that event stung New Line like nothing else. The fans didn’t show up simply because, as other Senior Staff at TheOneRing.net will recall, there were endless weeks of legal bickering (without agreement) between Best Buy’s legal arm and New Line, and the poor fan site sitting in the middle of this was TORn, not being allowed to disclose or promote to the wide world the Fan Costume Constest that was about to take place. All was frustrated, like the long-term plans of ‘Saruman of Many Colours.’
They also felt this would reflect on lower anticipation and thus lower sales of that Blu-ray set. I’m convinced *this* new 6-film “UCE” is suffering from that burden of association. WBHE, for lack of a better term, inhereted this property from New Line, and now they don’t want to spend another cent. Frugality is how they maximize profits.
I can understand the exigencies of getting the most bang for your buck, but seriously, the other side of this argument is that Warner Bros. seems woefully out of touch with what the fans really, REALLY want. Remember that stinging “open letter” published last week calling out their C.E.O. for mishandling many properties and losing the course of their ship? [link here] That sentiment reflects the feelings of many (including me, especially with respect to their D.C. Comics Extended Universe) but it should be said that Peter Jackson’s production and handling of HOBBIT was not indicative of problems at Warner Bros., that was MGM’s fault from way before.
Now it comes to it. All my thought is bent upon this. I have reached out to Warner Bros. and at the time of this posting they have offered no comment. Dutifully I reached out to Peter’s team at Wingnut Films in Wellington, and they immediately replied with: “We have no comment as this time, but if we do decide to in the future we will come to you.” To both entities I say: you’re always welcome to come onto our live show and discuss it with the fans around the world, or correspond with us so we can provide equal time. We would love to have their thoughts.
I’ve done a bit of investigative sleuthing and found out the facts that have me seeing red: Peter Jackson faithfully and very earnestly offered (almost a year and half ago, perhaps two years back) to make this current “UCE” into a true “Unicorn Edition.” Michael Pellerin and PJ together proposed to WBHE that this combination of all six movies would be the perfect opportunity to send-off the Middle-earth Saga with a comprehensive look back. It would allow them to do brand spanking new 2-hour documentaries for each of the films featuring those outtakes and bloopers I have extolled; with even more frank discussion about “hot button” issues they couldn’t talk about at the time but now with the ease of time passing could be elucidated.
Imagine – not just dragons – but imagine seeing all that footage from the past – the glorious warts-and-all approach of looking at their accomplishements with a 16 year difference of time! Imagine where we, the avid audience, are given the benefit of seeing so much creativity in a whole new light. It is not an understatement that PJ and Company rose to the heights of film history with LOTR, winning 11 out of 11 Academy Awards for ROTK, the biggest clean sweep in Oscar history; and setting a bewildering high-watermark for filmic storytelling that redifined what long format stories can do for the cinema.
The kicker: Warner Bros. refused to pay for this. They balked and said, “We would only do ONE two-hour documentary, not a whole bunch of them, so let’s scale this whole thing back.” I’ve been told by the most reliable sources that PJ decided he would rather not do a half-assed retrospective and it would not be in alignment with what he had been enthused about for so long (we’ve all heard him in the Director’s Commentaries mentioning this possible “Unicorn Edition” even though he didn’t use that exact term).
We now know his “Ultimate Collector’s Edition” has been on the table for quite a long time. The end result was not guided by the original plucky Kiwi director who had always loved Tolkien. Sadly it was goverened by a team of marketing people who are not Tolkien fans, people who have been tone-deaf to the worldwide audience by the very release of this “UCE,” and neglecting what we have been anticipating – and VOCALIZING – for damn near 17 years. Does anyone at the studio read message boards or social media streams to glean what kind of appetite we have? Did anyone bother to listen to Sir Peter Jackson all this time and note what he has always promised was waiting for us at the end of this journey? I mean really!
Who wants to spend $800 on a regurgitation of previous existing Blu-ray content anyone could acquire at a fraction of the cost? The wooden shelf is nice and the Red Book simulacrum with accompanying art prints is cute, but it’s not what we really wanted. It is not clear who among our fan community this release was intended for, knowing how avidly we have already bought the previous home video products.
We are standing up right now and telling you, Warner Bros., what we most passionately want.
If the guardians at WBHE would like to remedy this there is still a chance. The studio has not categorically said: “We will NOT ever do this Unicorn Edition with all the archives/ outtakes/ bloopers/ from 16 years ago.” I am willing to bet that the next wave of 4K Ultra High-def may see some possible movement on this in the future.
The content is there. It can be done! The outsized larger canvas of LOTR being Extended yet again is, by itself, enough to motivate potential buyers. The rest is just gravy. There are indeed costs involved with re-scanning the negatives from LOTR up to the highest resolution possible. HOBBIT was shot on the Red Epic cameras 48fps so we know that material is already at that state. The trasnfer of older DVD behind-the-scenes into upscaled resolution is also possible. The cost would be justified when they saw fans ferociously buying the new content.
And it would look amazing on 4K, I’m quite sure.
I’ve never believed in Unicorns (probably because Tolkien never wrote about one in his stories, and I hope Peter S. Beagle forgives me) but I’ve seen the hope they inspire. This far-away concept for a TRUE “Ultimate Collector’s Edition” doesn’t seem so far away as we watch the landscape of home entertainment evolving around us.
It is up to the fans themselves to send their thoughts and desires to Warner Bros. through every media and thread we have available. We must speak up and declare where we stand on this issue.
This 6-film release is not the end of the Middle-earth Saga. There’s much more to be discovered. With the will of the creative team, the support of the studio (which just needs a little more foresight in these matters), and by speaking with our dollars AS WELL AS with our keyboards, we can see this thing happen.
Instead of #OneLastTime we have a new hashtag: #OneMORETime
Much too hasty,
Follow on Twitter: @quickbeam2000
Author’s Note: this article has been updated with corrected dates.
Posted in Blu-Ray, Collectibles, Director news, DVDs, Events, Fans, Hobbit Movie, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, Merchandise, MGM, New Line Cinema, Peter Jackson, Studios, The Hobbit, Tolkien, Warner Bros.
The recent announcement of the “Middle-earth Limited Collectors Edition Blu-ray Box Set” has stirred up quite a hornets’ nest not only in our message boards, but elsewhere, be it the comment fields of retail sites, or the blogs of people interested in Tolkien, or the home releases of cinematic material in general.
Many are concerned that the reported and rumored price of US$800 for the limited edition is too high, given there is no new cinematic or ‘behind-the-scenes’ material. Some compare the release unfavorably to Warner Brothers’ Harry Potter Wizard’s Collection, which provided a bonus disk. Some point out that you could purchase the Blu-rays, a player and a small HDTV for the price of this set. Others point out that one could fly from North America to New Zealand for that amount.
So yes, one feeling is that ‘this is way too much money for nothing new but packaging.’ But for some, there’s more than just a sense of consumer rejection – there’s a sense of disappointment, outrage, frustration, and even sadness. Why? What drives that?
a) Some fans have been hoping for an ‘ultimate edition’ with bloopers, extra bonus material, and whatnot. This release is not that.
b) Some feel that “The Hobbit”, has not been handled properly from the beginning (too many films, or some other complaint). These fans feel this is yet another example of the studio “blowing it with the material, and with the fans.”
c) Some feel that they are being treated as fools. With no new cinematic material, how is it possible that the studio could think that a shelf, nice boxes, some small posters, a notebook, etc. come with such a high markup? Is the shelving made of wood from the white tree at the heart of Minas Tirith? After all, with the US$800 for this release, I could get the extended edition Blu-ray edition of all six films, hardcover copies of the books, along with The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, and the History of Middle Earth, a copy of Jens Hansen’s One Ring, a version of Arwen’s Evenstar pendant, Gandalf and Saruman salt and pepper shakers, and more, and still wonder what I will do with the rest of the money I have saved.
The list of possible causes of frustration goes ever on and on… we Tolkien fans are known to get easily excited!
But let’s take a collective deep breath and do two things.
First, let’s challenge ourselves – should we be so angry? Consider: in the non-Tolkien collecting world, similarly high-priced ‘collectibles’ exist. I can go to a local store and pay about $14 for the a copy of Scrabble, or I can go to a specialty retail store and pay $225 for ‘Premiere Edition Scrabble’. It’s the same game. There are no extra tiles, no new letters in the alphabet, no new special rules for the well-heeled logophile. It’s still good old Scrabble, just packaged a different way. Perhaps those premiere edition Scrabble game purchasers are fools – or maybe they just really like Scrabble and want a really cool looking set as a focal point of their family room to reflect their interest in the game. Similarly, the well-heeled and price-unconscious Tolkien fan can indeed decide to spend $800 on this set – and that doesn’t harm those who choose not to do the same. So perhaps anger over the high sticker price needs to be reduced.
Second, let’s see if there’s something deeper going on here. Perhaps the frustration we are expressing is really just a mask covering a deeper emotion. Let’s face it. Almost all of us sense that, at a global level, the heady cinematic, culture-impacting days of Middle-Earth are really, truly, over. We are sad. At the turn of the century, our dear Middle-earth was shown to the world, and they loved it. We felt everyone got ‘it’, and because of it, got us. Now things our different. Our favorite franchise, books that matter so much to us, seem to no longer matter to the world, or even to their film studio, as much as they did just a few short years ago.
But we knew this would happen one day – popular culture cannot stay focused on one thing for any length of time, or it won’t have room to take on anything new.
We’re sad because, instead of things ending with a bang and applause, like Bilbo’s Long-Expected Party, with the last film loved most of all, and a glorious home release acknowledging a track record of success, we just get a repackaging. No new material. The Middle-earth cinematic saga, the wide cultural exposure to all things Tolkien ends not with a bang, but a whimper.
We are sad – even angry – because we simply didn’t think it would end this way.
But perhaps we are wrong to feel that way. Perhaps it’s important to remember someone’s wise words, and paraphrase them to fit our current situation: “End? No the impact of Middle-earth doesn’t end here. The eventual loss of wide cultural exposure is just another path; one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of decades of niche-interest will roll back, and once again, Middle-earth will be on the silver screen. And then you’ll see it. White searchlights; and beyond, a premiere of a new generation of films, screening at night after a swift sunset.”
This is not the end – this is just the simple pause after a cycle of cultural interest, the end of one long inhalation and exhalation. One day, the world will breathe again. Tolkien fandom has been here before: at the end of a heady time in the 1960s and early 1970s, it went quiet for 25 years, until exploding open in 2001.
Therefore, I believe and hope that twenty years, fifty years, a century from now, our children, their children, and beyond, will continue to find hope and meaning in Middle-earth, and produce new interpretations of it for others to enjoy. On the screen, in plays, in forms and delivery mechanisms not imagined by us now, our offspring will be stirred by Theoden’s re-awakening, by Gandalf’s wisdom, by Sam’s loyalty, and by Frodo’s courage. These new interpretations will be worse than Peter Jackson’s vision in some ways, but also much better in others. For that is the way of such things. But whatever successes and flaws these new versions will have, a few things are certain: they will be amazing and inspiring. They will ignite in a new generation a sense of a nobler purpose in life, a joy of simpler living, and an appreciation of works of wonder, because behind all possible interpretations, supporting them, letting them breathe, will be the timeless, unchanging words of the good Professor.
Our job now, as lovers of Middle-earth, is to carry the hope and deeper messages of Tolkien’s work forward and ensure it is not lost and forgotten, so that one day, perhaps a day that I or you might not see, the world can re-experience the joy we have felt these past fifteen years.
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