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Archive for the ‘LotR Production’ Category

LOTR casting rumors put to rest

Sean Connery as Gandalf the White

Courtesy of

If, like many of us, you heard about the making of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies before they even started production (and were old enough to read at the time, haha), you probably remember the good old days of endless debates and discussions around casting rumors! Was Sean Connery really considered to portray Gandalf? Was Sylvester McCoy considered for a role long before he brought Radagast to life in The Hobbit movies? This interesting article over at puts a number of those rumors to rest.

Do you think Patrick Stewart would have made a good Gandalf? What about Jake Gyllenhaal as Frodo? If there are any rumors left over from the olden days that aren’t covered in this article, let us know in the comments section and we’ll see what we can find out. Read the full article here.

Posted in Director news, Hobbit Movie, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, LotR Production, Movie Fellowship of the Ring, Movie Return of the King, Movie The Two Towers, Peter Jackson, Rumors Spy News, Rumours Spy News, Sylvester McCoy, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Hobbit: There and Back Again

A Wellington Weta Adventure!

Autumn had finally arrived in northern California when I boarded a plane to head into spring on the other side of the planet in New Zealand. To say I wasn’t frightened would be a lie. I felt very much like Frodo heading out into the wide world, for I was about to be away from my family and my continent for longer than I ever had. The weather in Wellington had been pleasant until I arrived, or so I’m told, and as more and more cold rainstorms blew into the bay off the Pacific, my co-workers at Weta Workshop teased that I had brought winter with me to their beautiful island nation.


The flight from Auckland to Wellington, NZ

Like most fans of the The Lord of the Rings films, I had long dreamed of visiting New Zealand and seeing as much of its Middle-earth landscape as I could. However, also like most fans, the cost of such an adventure always held me back. As such, if someone had told me that I would have gone to Aotearoa twice in 2015, I would’ve thought they were as full of tall tales as old mad Baggins! But step out my front door I did, each time with a little nudge.


Posted in Fans, Happy Hobbit, Hobbit Movie, John Callen, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, LotR Production, New Zealand, The Hobbit, Tolkien, Uncategorized, WETA Cave, WETA Workshop

EW interviews Peter Jackson about Christopher Lee

SarumanCheck out this wonderful Entertainment Weekly interview with Peter Jackson about his experiences with, and memories of, the actor who brought J.R.R. Tolkien’s wizard Saruman to life for millions of loving fans. You’ll chuckle at PJ recalling some comical moments, but have a box of tissues ready because you just might shed a tear too.  Read more…

Posted in Christopher Lee, Director news, Fran Walsh, Hobbit Movie, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, LotR Production, Movie Fellowship of the Ring, Movie The Two Towers, New Zealand, Peter Jackson, The Hobbit

Sheep Farming in Hobbiton

HobbitonFor those of you who have been lucky enough to visit the Hobbiton set (like me!), you know how magical it is to wander among the well-tended gardens and Hobbit-home facades, to rest in the shade of the magnificent party tree, and to enjoy a pint at the Green Dragon Inn. However, as most of us are aware, the Hobbiton set is surrounded by a 560 hectare (approximately 1,400 acre) working sheep and cattle farm owned and operated by the Alexander family. recently recounted a bit of the history of the Hobbiton and how Hobbit holes and sheep continue to coexist nicely in a quiet corner of the New Zealand countryside:

“Right alongside the tourism business is their sheep and beef operation, on probably the country’s most-visited farm. While not many of the tourists see the whole farm, the stock is still very much in the public eye, meaning Craig [Alexander] has to be strategic in where he farms stock because of the occasional gate left open by an unsuspecting tourist. Hobbiton is also ring-fenced with paddocks for stock on either side. “If we’re driving a mob of 1500-2000 ewes down the main track and there is a [tourist] bus going through that can be pretty frustrating.”

While the farm is family-owned and operated, Hobbiton is a 50/50 partnership between the family and Peter Jackson. “Today, the tourism venture has about 70 permanent staff and twice that number over the busy summer season. It’s given the Matamata district a huge boost in earnings and the region is now thriving.”

Read the full article here.

Posted in Director news, Hobbit Movie, Locations Sets, Locations Sets, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, LotR Production, New Zealand, Peter Jackson, The Hobbit, Tours

Hobbiton makes the list of top 16 movie locations to visit

thedoorNot surprising to Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movie fans, lifestyle and travel blog, BLT, has named Hobbiton as one of its top 16 movie locations to visit. From the blog“The gardens and crops surrounding the homely Hobbiton featured in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings series were actually planted a year before the filming of the first movie. Hobbiton was built and designed with the fictional landscape described by J.R.R. Tolken in the books and the set still stands today. In fact, people travel from all over the world to take a two-hour tour of the set. Hobbiton, although originally just a movie set, is now a permanent tourist attraction.”

Other locations mentioned in the blog include Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, England (Harry Potter; Downton Abby), The Hawaiian island of Kauai (Jurassic Park; Raiders of the Lost Arc) and California’s Redwood National Park (Star War’s Forest Moon of Endor). While all of them would be fun to visit, we’re partial to Hobbiton not the least of which is because it’s not just a building or a landscape to look at. As the article mentions, it’s a permanent tourist attraction in beautiful New Zealand, offering excellent guided tours, a store and a pub! What’s not to love?

Check out Hobbiton and the other top 15 movie locations to visit here, and let us know which ones you’d most like to see (after Hobbiton, of course).

Posted in Hobbit Movie, Locations Sets, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, LotR Production

Crowd funded Minas Tirith pricetag: £1.8 billion

Minas TirithA group, that displays one man with 500+ Facebook friends, has started a GoFundMe page to build a 1 to 1 scale replica “of Peter Jackson’s depiction of Minas Tirith, as seen in his Lord of the Rings films.”

For American readers, if my pounds to dollars calculator is working right, that is about $2.8 billion, an ambitious amount to raise on IndieGoGo, or really any crowd funding site, or really, by any method. Still, the project would be a dream to visit and would create an economy all its own and would provide years of good media material as the world watched its progress.

“We aim to create both residential and commercial properties, allowing for sustainable growth and a high quality of life,” Jonathan Wilson says on his intro page. He also breaks down the cost, a little bit, to say, “The vast majority of this expense will cover building costs – £15m for land, £188m for labour and £1.4bn for material.”

He hopes to raise £1.8 billion. (more…)

Posted in Fans, J.R.R. Tolkien, Locations Sets, Locations Sets, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, Merchandise, Movie Return of the King, Movie The Two Towers, New Zealand, Studios, Tolkien, Tolkien Estate, WETA Workshop

R.I.P. Andrew Lesnie

Andrew LesnieWe’ve just heard the sad news that Andrew Lesnie has died of a heart attack at the age of 59.

The filmmaker from Sydney, Australia, won an Academy Award for Best Cinematography for his work on Peter Jackson‘s “The Fellowship Of The Ring” in 2002. He is most associated for his work with Peter Jackson on the adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings,” trilogy and on “The Hobbit.” But his film catalog is much larger, including the just released Russell Crow-directed film, “The Water Diviner.”

He also served as director of photography for the Australian “Babe,” movies which led Jackson to him. In an interview with, Jackson talked about the series of events, including Lesnie leaving “Mission Impossible 2,” to come to the Tolkien films. Said Jackson:

“I’d never worked with him or even met him before, but he’d shot the Babe films and I thought they looked amazing, the way he’d used backlight and the sun and natural light to create a very magical effect. And Babe had that larger-than-life feel about it that I wanted. So when we began looking for DPs in early 1999, I first decided to get either an Australian or New Zealand DP as they’d be used to the way we make films. Every country is slightly different in that way, and I immediately thought of Andrew. But he was shooting MI2 in Sydney, so I was a bit stuck then. But then after three weeks he left MI2 — apparently there was a lot of friction on the set, and we called him the next day and persuaded him to fly over to meet. Then we showed him all the designs and sets and he got very excited, and I liked him a lot.”

Jackson and Lesnie made the six Tolkien films together but they also collaborated on “King Kong,” and “The Lovely Bones.” Other notable films he worked on:
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” and “I Am Legend,” among others.

He can be seen as a painter acting in the Sean Astin-directed short film, “The Long and Short of It.” He made a cameo in “Return of the King,” as a Corsair of Umbar sailing to battle. By all accounts and from personal observations, Lesnie was excellent to work with. He is immortalized through his work.

All of us here at send our best wishes and condolences to his family and friends.

Below is the video of Lesnie winning his Academy Award for “Fellowship,” where he is graceful, humorous and thanks many people person-to-person before walking on stage to accept the award. It is a fine example of his professionalism and good nature.

Namarië Andrew! You will be greatly missed.

Rest in Peace

MrCere contributed to this report.

[Read more]

Posted in Crew News, Headlines, LotR Movies, LotR Production, Production

The Bakshi Interview: Uncloaking a Legacy

Bakshi On March 28, 2015 livestreamed an interview with animation pioneer Ralph Bakshi to discuss the first-ever “The Lord of the Rings” film (1978), and to parse the differences between homage and rip-off (and the not-so-nebulous chains of inspiration from one artist to another).

Bakshi revealed to us that his Studio’s “LOTR” character designs and artwork were sent down to Three Foot Six in New Zealand; elevating the conversation of his impact on the live-action epic.

The subversive director has lived through numerous controversies, yet remains undervalued by Ringer fans and feels personally slighted by Jackson. He carries on vigorously at 77 years old with a new crowdfunded animated work, “The Last Days of Coney Island” and his intent to direct a “Wizards 2” follow-up to his 1977 cult hit. (more…)

Posted in Film Screenings, Headlines, John Howe, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, LotR Production, MGM, Miscellaneous, Out on a Limb, Peter Jackson, Ralph Bakshi, Tolkien, TORn TUESDAYS Live!

See all the deaths of Peter Jackson’s LOTR trilogy in 7 minutes

With “The Hobbit” movies before our eyes, either from home or at the movies, here is a fascinating look back at Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings,” films. This clever edit of the films might have been what King Theoden was yelling “Death! Death! Death!” about from his horse because this version features all the on-screening killing from the whole trilogy – extended edition.

It might bring differences between the two trilogies to mind, or it might not, but whatever it is, the folks at Digg have done themselves proud. ENJOY!

Posted in Hobbit Movie, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, LotR Production, Movie Fellowship of the Ring, Movie Return of the King, Movie The Two Towers, The Hobbit

World premiere for “The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies” in London on December 1

6 filmsSir Ian McKellen starts this video introduction to announce the World Premiere date for the final chapter of Peter Jackson’s cinematic Middle-earth films. We now know for sure that the cast and crew from all six films will be walking through Leicester Square on December 1, 2014 in London. Sir Ian was joined by Richard Armitage, Luke Evans, Orlando Bloom and Bilbo Baggins himself, Martin Freeman. Check out the video below for more details and start making your plans accordingly. There is mention of a contest, so good luck to anyone who chooses to enter.

Posted in Contests, Events, Fans, Film Screenings, Hobbit Movie, Ian McKellen, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, LotR Production, Luke Evans, Martin Freeman, Meet Ups, Movie Fellowship of the Ring, Movie Return of the King, Movie The Two Towers, Orlando Bloom, Production, Richard Armitage, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Warner Bros.

Middle-earth filmmakers set their sights on stop motion ‘Birds’

BirdsCatching up with some of our friends from New Zealand, we learned about a project that involves the efforts of a lot of Kiwis, including Sylvester McCoy of Hobbit fame and Lord of the Rings’ Alex Funke. For good measure New Zealand’s Grammy winner Kimbra (Somebody That I Used To Know) is supporting the project with her voice.

In the age of computer generated effects, the film “Birds” is a throwback. A friend to TORn, Horst Sarubin, who worked on visual effects for the three Hobbit films, is behind the project that uses puppets, shot one frame at a time with incremental movements between frames to create a motion picture. The film, about the struggles of George the bird in the primordial forests of Zealandia (pre-historic New Zealand) to carry on.

THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEYMcCoy is well known for his bird whistles and humor, which Hobbit director Peter Jackson definitely brought through the former Dr. Who’s Radagast into cinematic Middle-earth. In the film’s kickstarter campaign McCoy presents those whistles and gets a little bird treat in return. In the same video Funke, who is best know for helping make the LOTR bigatures look amazing on screen, explains his role is to make the cinematography great.

The stop-motion technique is being employed to give the filmmakers a hands-on experience and a final project they claim will be alive and organic. Tying closely with the passions of Peter Jackson, these are the same techniques used by Ray Harryhausen and Willis H. O’Brien. The original King Kong movie was made in this fashion, inspiring a generation of filmmakers.

With a team of grass-roots talent with a Middle-earth cinematic legacy efforting the film and a universal appealing story, but set in the ancient human-free land that would eventually become New Zealand, TORn readers may want to know further information is available at The grass-roots effort is seeking fan support via the kickstarter campaign above.

Posted in Alex Funke, Crew News, Lord of the Rings, Models, New Zealand, Peter Jackson, Sylvester McCoy, The Hobbit

Dain Ironfoot: Hints, clues & looks at one of the final ‘Hobbit’ mysteries

dain2One of the big visual secrets of the final Middle-earth movie from Peter Jackson, “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” is Dain Ironfoot. Played by Billy Connoly, Dain is a character that is essential to the story but isn’t incredibly fleshed out in J.R.R. Tolkien source material that was originally intended for children.

Our own Demosthenes has this excellent analysis of Connolly as Dain complete with quotes and descriptions of the character. It has long been reported that Dain will arrive on the scene riding a war boar but clearly Jackson’s team has been careful not to reveal this in any teaser trailers so far, and, lets hope it stays that way.

But, visuals of the character have started to seep into the public eye. With giant franchise films like The Hobbit, it’s impossible to put a lid on too much because merchandise and toys need to start selling before the film hits theaters (and before it is finished!) and that means that at the very least, clues are out in the wild.

The image at the top of this story, for example, clearly displays Lego Dain and it jives with the descriptions that are out there including this one from Connolly via Yahoo Australia:

“They’re basically broadening me, making me wider. But let me say, this guy will terrify the life out of you. I have a Mohawk and tattoos on my head. You’ve got to see it.”

The Lego character appears to be a ginger and is wearing a red chest piece as part of his armor, giving him a distinct look that will visually set him apart in cinemas so viewers will know instantly that he isn’t like the dwarves we have spent so much time with so far. He is a new element with a distinct mount, armor and will be immediately recognizable and unique.

DainThe Lego Dain even evokes a little bit of Connolly to me visually, although it could be a previous bias.

The concept art here seems to really compliment the Lego image as something close to Dain’s final design. The helms certainly seem similar in shape and color and the beards seem the same in shape and color. There are differences however in the color of the breastplate, although details on a Lego toy are only meant to be a representation and not a literal translation. In fact the looking and speculation from still images of a toy and a concept art is fun because of how different the motion picture experience is from a still image. In the day of CGI, what is filmed may or may not even resemble what ends up on screen.

UPDATE EDIT: Readers have correctly pointed out the below image is of Dwalin. The writer has been sacked.

Dain Mohawk

Posted in Hobbit Movie, Lord of the Rings, Make Up, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies