A packed house of what must have been more that 2,000 people were treated to a wonderful glimpse into Peter Jackson’s Fellowship of the Ring on Saturday, July 21st. Fans waited for over two hours to not just get good seats, but get seats period, and I’m estimating at least another 1,000 people wanted to get in. Quickbeam and I were lucky enough to find that TORNados Larry D and Heather N had saved us some spots. Thanks you two!!

New Line’s Gordon Paddison kicked of the show by introducing several films from their fall line-up. I was actually a little nervous myself about what was coming. Finally the familiar tones of the second theater teaser oozed from the speakers, and even though I’ve watched it dozens of times, goose bumps stood right up on my arms as Gandalf demanded, “Is it secret!? Is it SAFE!!?? The sound was amazing and it was a treat to see the teaser on those huge screens.

After this was a transitional graphic or two (which popped up a few times) featuring New Line’s wonderfully crafted LOTR logo and then suddenly we were in Cannes!

It looked like the wizards and hobbits put aside some time in France to set up what we saw this weekend. Ian Holm, Ian McKellen, and Christopher Lee each in turn gave a hullo to the Comic-Con audience and LOTR fans. It was a treat to see them together out of costume and Ian Holm kicked off the piece. I don’t remember who was next, but the Voice of Saruman just about pinned me to my chair. Ian McKellen spoke right to the heart of the fans, saying that Peter Jackson and each one of them had made this film for US. He said that it was the fans that made the production possible and without them the project would never have come to pass.

After these three heavyweights came the four hobbits! They look great together, natural and comfortable. Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Billy Boyd, and Dominic Monaghan each spoke in turn. They also said hullos to the fans at Comic-Con, shared their enthusiasm for the films, and introduced the next segment.

Next came two separate pieces that looked like they could have been part of a ‘making of’ documentary, additional material for dvd releases, promotional footage to use for specialized television segments, or something of that nature (PURELY my personal speculation folks). The first focused on creating and filming Hobbiton, and the second was all about Nazgul.

My memory is already fading but I believe the first piece was called Hobbiton Comes to Life. Next time I promise I’ll have a pen and paper! Bad Tookish…

And as you have heard if you’ve been watching all this develop on the internet and seen the teasers, PJ and Company have created an incredible vision of the Shire, Hobbiton, and Bag-End. I can’t really do justice with this article, but I know you’ll be oh so very pleased.

Second was Ringwraiths: The Fallen Kings. This fascinating look into what are going to be some of the scariest creatures throughout LOTR was filled with interviews of cast and creators, shots of what must have been a room in the WETA workshop as they developed the Nazgul armor, and several chase sequences. These guys are going to scare millions!!

Uniting these sequences was the thread of The Fellowship‘s plot. I had a very strong sense of the beauty and peace of the Shire, as well as the horror and fear of the Ringwraiths, and the two pieces served to spell out a part of what is at stake in the story of The Lord of the Rings.

Although several fans mentioned their disappointment that the actual footage used for Cannes was not shown, I for one sat on the edge of my seat for the entire 15 or so minutes and thoroughly enjoyed the show. My excitement and anticipation for these films has only grown since seeing the Comic-Con footage, and for deeper reasons you’ll learn about in upcoming reports. Stay tuned!