Archive for the ‘J.R.R. Tolkien’ Category
Middle-earth Madness officially starts today! We’ve split our field of 64 characters into four divisions:
Movies Only – characters who appeared only in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings and/or The Hobbit movies
Books Only – characters who didn’t make the final cut for the movies
Movies and Books – characters who graced both the written page and the silver screen
Wider Mythos – Middle-earth characters not in the movies from Tolkien’s works outside of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit
There are some very interesting match-ups in round one this year.
In one of the more intense match-ups in the Movies Only division, Tauriel is up against the Warg Matriarch, Azog’s vicious white warg. A perennial TORn fav, FIGWIT (stay-tuned for the story behind the name if you don’t know it already) takes on Alfrid, and it’s anybody’s guess as to who will come out on top in the match-up between Sebastian the Hedgehog and the Goblin Scribe.
The Books Only division is chock-full of interesting matches such as Ghan-buri-Ghan vs. Quickbeam, and The Fox (who wondered at Hobbits traveling through The Shire in FOTR) vs. Prince Imrahil.
It was almost impossible to narrow down the Movies & Books division with so many amazing choices, but there are some gut-wrenchers in the contests as they stand with Beorn going up against the Balrog and Shelob battling Sauron.
Finally, some of Tolkien’s Titans go mano-a-mano in the Wider Mythos division, with two powerful dragons, Ancalagon and Glaurung battling it out, and Beren and Huan facing each other in what is sure to be a close call.
The Slaying of Glaurung, by Ted Nasmith
A note on how the bracket combatants were determined. TheOneRing.net created a document containing all combatants, sub-divided into divisions. We asked staff to cast sixteen votes per division, with the votes having a weight of 1-4. Each staffer cast four 4 votes, four 3 votes, four 2 votes and four 1 votes in each division. We then totaled all the votes from each division to determine their rank, and ultimately placed the top 16 into each bracket for seeding.
As you can imagine, our staff is diverse and the results were very interesting! Not only are there some great match-ups in this first round, the final four will pose some amazing choices between the various literary and film sources.
Voting in Round 1 will remain open until March 22nd at 10:00 p.m. EST. At that point, we’ll calculate the winners and post the next round on March 23rd. Follow after the break for a complete bracket image [download it], and to vote on all of our Round 1 match-ups! [Round 1 Bracket]
Posted in Events, Fans, Fellowship of the Ring, Hobbit Book, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, LotR Books, LotR Movies, Other Events, Other Tolkien books, Peter Jackson, 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
On the upcoming episode of DC Legends of Tomorrow, airing this Tuesday, March 21 at 9:00 p.m. EST on The CW channel, the team goes back to France during WWI and enlists the help of, yes, J.R.R. Tolkien. The episode is titled “Fellowship of the Spear.” From IMDB: “The Legends land in France during World War I and enlist the aid of J.R.R. Tolkien to retrieve the last pieces of the Spear of Destiny from the Legion of Doom.”
Tolkien is being played by actor Jack Turner known, among other things, for his role as Liam in the Stitchers series and the movie The 10-Year Plan. Here is the link to the trailer for the episode (although they don’t mention Tolkien in trailer). Definitely one to put on your watch list! If you’re unable to watch or DVR it, you can stream it online after it airs at the same link.
Posted in J.R.R. Tolkien, Other Events, Television, Tolkien
The schedule for Wondercon went public yesterday, so we are finally able to confirm that we are indeed hosting a panel on Sunday at 10:30am. Below you will find the posting from the Wondercon schedule website, but since the panel was presented, we have added one more panelist.
Mike Urban, also known as Ostadan, will be joining us. He is one of the author’s of TORn’s book “The People’s guide to J.R.R. Tolkien” and will help flesh out the discussion on the upcoming release of a standalone “Beren and Luthien” book. (more…)
Posted in Books, Books Publications, Christopher Tolkien, Conventions, Daniel Falconer, Events, Fans, Fellowship of the Ring, Green Books, 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, Return of the King, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Two Towers, Tolkien, WonderCon
The word ‘mathom,’ invented by J.R.R. Tolkien, was used by Hobbits to describe anything they ‘had no use for but were unwilling to throw away.’ If that sounds familiar as you look around at your collection of Tolkien books and other collectibles, it did to Andrew Whalen at iDigitalTimes too. In Andrew’s opinion, the word mathom is so perfect for describing the clutter many of us love, it should become part of our regular vocabulary.
According to the article, “Hobbits love clutter. Many humans do too. The thought of purging a bookshelf, for example, might give you angry shivers. Everyone should have several different copies of the same book with different paperback covers!” Of course, to many Tolkien geeks that goes without saying. Further to making his case, Andrew really hits the nail on the head with his observation: “..it’s just fun to say: mathom.” We here at TORn wholeheartedly agree. Read the full article here.
Posted in J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, LotR Books, Tolkien
On this date in 1892, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born in Bloemfontein Africa. Over his long lifetime, he delighted readers and fans world-wide with his writings including essays, children’s books and his beloved novels, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, that center around a race of short, down-to-earth creatures who live, of all places, in (very nice) holes in the ground.
Today, TORn joins millions of fans worldwide in celebrating Tolkien’s birthday. If you have the time and the inclination, you may want to join other fans gathering at local pubs where members of the Tolkien Society will be raising a glass and toasting: “The Professor!” If you’d like to learn more about the annual January third tradition, or find a local gathering near you, visit the Tolkien Society’s Tolkien Birthday Toast 2017 page here. Or instead, you may just want to curl up with a favorite Tolkien story or poem and toast him quietly with a nice cup of tea.
However you decide to celebrate, join us in wishing a happy birthday to “The Professor,” who’s life’s work has come to mean so much to us. Happy birthday, J.R.R. Tolkien!
Posted in Events, Fans, Hobbit Book, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, LotR Books, Meet Ups, The Hobbit, Tolkien, Tolkien Toast
TheOneRing.net would like to wish a very happy 92nd birthday to Christopher Tolkien. Thanks to Christopher, Tolkien fans around the world have been able to enjoy the works of his father, J.R.R. Tolkien, beyond what lies between the covers of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The devotion, integrity, and high standards he’s exhibited in bringing us more of his father’s writings are recognized and appreciated by our staff and our readers. Many happy returns of the day!
Posted in Christopher Tolkien, Hobbit Book, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, LotR Books, The Hobbit, Tolkien
Exciting news for Tolkien fans today as we get further details on the upcoming Tolkien biopic from the Hollywood Reporter. Based on the HR headline, the title is ‘Middle Earth.’ Is that a bit of Hollywood contextual word play, or do they not realize the proper spelling would be Middle-earth? Time will tell.
The film will be directed by James Strong (Hey, he’s directed some Doctor Who episodes) and produced by LOTR trilogy alumni Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne. The script will be written by Angus Fletcher.
Are you excited for this new film? Scared as to what Hollywood might ‘change’ in an already extraordinary life story? Sound off in the comments below!
From the Hollywood Reporter:
Penned by Angus Fletcher, the film will chart the tumultuous events that inspired him to pen ‘Hobbit’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogies.
James Strong is heading to Middle Earth.
The British director of Broadchurch, Gracepoint and Downton Abbey will helm the biopic about author J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.
The film — featuring a script by Angus Fletcher, based on six years of interviews and archival research — will chart the tumultuous events that inspired him to pen Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogies: when war broke out in 1914, disrupting his Oxford life with his wife Edith Bratt, Tolkien embarked on four years of battle, hardship, and new friendships, which served to shape his imagination and start him on the path to Middle Earth.
Posted in J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, Miscellaneous, The Hobbit, Tolkien Estate
It looks like audiences will get to see a film about the origins of Middle-earth in a new film called “Middle Earth.” More on the name in a moment.
The Hollywood Reporter announced this morning the film will chart “the tumultuous events” that inspired J.R.R. Tolkien to write “The Hobbit,” and “The Lord of the Rings,” trilogy. (Actually the article said “trilogies,” but there is only one trilogy, as you know.) It is to be directed by James Strong who might be most easily recognizable as the director of two episodes of “Downton Abbey,” with the films “United,” with episodes of “Dr. Who,” as well.
The film also pairs two of the men who played a big role in Peter Jackson’s LOTR trilogy with New Line Cinema Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne. They were the gentlemen who helped get those movies made when most of Hollywood wouldn’t touch them. Later they had a falling out with Jackson and eventually New Line collapsed and was swallowed by Warner Bros.
Shaye and Lynee will produce the new film through their Unique Features with Rachael Horovitz. Strong is currently directing the AMC/ITV miniseries “Liar,” according to the article.
Now, about that name. J.R.R. Tolkien distinctly named his created world “Middle-earth” not “Middle Earth.” If you think that isn’t a big deal, remember he was a professor of languages and literature who worked on the dictionary and created the whole thing in the first place because he was a linguist who was inventing languages.
So while it is easy to forgive a fan using Middle-earth as two words with capital letters, not so much in movie titles. Warner Bros., for example, while taking creative license with “The Hobbit,” got it right virtually every, single, time. To Tolkien, the subject of the biography, language matters.
And, to reverse things, nobody would excuse a title about the place “San-francisco” and not find it odd.
Making a biography about Tolkien, supposedly telling the story of his life, and getting that detail wrong in the title could be a bad sign.
On the other hand, this could be just a simple oversight by The Hollywood Reporter writer, but hey, the story also included a picture of Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins instead a picture of, you know, The Professor, so a mistake sounds pretty reasonable. That and stating that Tolkien had two trilogies makes it seem as least possible as a writer’s error. However, most of the info sounds like it was taken from a press release, which would prominently feature a title.
In any case, fans have more Tolkien and more about the creation of Middle-earth to look forward to.
If you haven’t read “J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography,” by Humpfrey Carpenter, it is essential. And, “Tolkien and the Great War,” by John Garth, is also excellent and covers the ground the film will attempt to cover.
Posted in J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Tolkien
Christopher Tolkien, known to all fans and scholars of his father, J.R.R. Tolkien as the devoted son who brought many of his father’s previously unpublished works to light, is to become a recipient of the 2017 Bodley Medal. The award, which includes past laureates David Attenborough and Stephen Hawking, honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the worlds of communication and literature.
Richard Ovenden, Bodley’s Librarian, said: “Christopher Tolkien’s contribution as a scholar and editor has been immense. Without his dedication and commitment, his father’s works would not have reached such a broad public audience and without his erudition and scholarship J R R Tolkien’s work would not have been presented so fully and with such authority.”
Christopher Tolkien said: “Although I have never looked for anything remotely of such a kind, I find it especially welcome to receive the Bodley Medal in that it affirms the unique significance of my father’s creation and accords a worthy place in the Republic of Letters to Tolkien scholarship. It gives me particular pleasure that the award comes from and is conceived by the Bodleian, where a great part of my father’s manuscripts lie and where I have happy memories of the great library itself.”
According to the Bookseller article, The Bodleian is planning a major Tolkien exhibition for 2018; something to put on all of our calendars!
TheOneRing.net wishes to congratulate Christopher on this well-deserved award, and express our thanks for the many hours, days and years of painstaking attention and care dedicated to furthering our enjoyment of his and his father’s works.
Posted in Christopher Tolkien, J.R.R. Tolkien, Tolkien, Tolkien Family
Today we received official word from Tolkien publishers (in the USA) Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: ten years on from the last Middle-earth related Tolkien publication, there will be a new book for fans of the Professor to enjoy!
Here’s what HMH say in their official press release:
‘RETURN TO MIDDLE-EARTH FOR HOUGHTON MIFFLIN HARCOURT
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has acquired the U.S. rights to publish BEREN AND LÚTHIEN by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Christopher Tolkien and illustrated by Alan Lee, in May 2017.
Christopher Tolkien explains:
‘The tale of Beren and Lúthien was, or became, an essential element in the evolution of The Silmarillion, the myths and legends of the First Age of the World conceived by J.R.R. Tolkien. Returning from France and the battle of the Somme at the end of 1916, he wrote the tale in the following year.
‘Essential to the story, and never changed, is the fate that shadowed the love of Beren and Lúthien: for Beren was a mortal man, but Lúthien was an immortal Elf. Her father, a great Elvish lord, in deep opposition to Beren, imposed on him an impossible task that he must perform before he might wed Lúthien. This is the kernel of the legend; and it leads to the supremely heroic attempt of Beren and Lúthien together to rob the greatest of all evil beings, Melkor, called Morgoth, the Black Enemy, of a Silmaril.
‘In this book Christopher Tolkien has attempted to extract the story of Beren and Lúthien from the comprehensive work in which it was embedded; but that story was itself changing as it developed new associations within the larger history. To show something of the process whereby this legend of Middle-earth evolved over the years, he has told the story in his father’s own words by giving, first, its original form, and then passages in prose and verse from later texts that illustrate the narrative as it changed. Presented together for the first time, they reveal aspects of the story, both in event and in narrative immediacy, that were afterwards lost.’
Published on the tenth anniversary of the last Middle-earth book, the New York Times bestseller The Children of Húrin, this new volume will similarly include drawings and color plates by Alan Lee, who also illustrated The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and went on to win Academy Awards for his work on The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.’
The edition will be published in Europe by Harper Collins. Our friends at the Tolkien Society note that ‘Beren and Lúthien will be published 100 years since Tolkien’s wife Edith danced for him in a small woodland glade filled with hemlocks in East Yorkshire, an event he later acknowledged was the inspiration for the meeting of the immortal Lúthien Tinúviel and the mortal Beren in the glades beside Esgalduin.’
You can read more about this upcoming publication here. Mark the calendar – 4th May 2017 will not be Star Wars day, but Beren and Lúthien day!
Posted in Alan Lee, Books Publications, Christopher Tolkien, Headlines, J.R.R. Tolkien, Merchandise, Other Tolkien books, Silmarillion, Tolkien
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)
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.
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