On April 7, 2020 the senior members of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings production team came together with fans to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first teaser trailer of LOTR, an online-only digital video that broke all online download records.
This digital trailer, released on Apple Trailers, was responsible for 30% of all internet traffic upon release according to Akamai. It surpassed the Star Wars Episode 1 trailer, arguable the most hyped film in history, in downloads the first day and first week.
Prior to this trailer, fandom was seen as “Star Wars.” This validated fandom and a different way of marketing and appreciating what fandom can bring. It created a different perception of the power of fans.
Gordon Paddison, VP Marketing LOTR
Michael Pellerin describes watching the LOTR trailer with Chairman Roy Disney at Walt Disney Studios, the parent company of Miramax that actually let LOTR walk away to New Line Cinema. “He just went huh, wow, good on them. Disney would have made it a company film. This is more of a visionary thing.”
Richard Taylor tells a heartfelt story of offering a job to a professional make-up artist early on, which was respectfully declined. “We were turned down by almost everyone… but when the trailer came out, a number of people we had pursued actually wrote back to me!”
“What Michael did under Peter’s leadership was to unpack everything about everything, the whole process. In that trailer the world got to see the first thing that Weta Digital was doing. There was unbelievable groundbreaking stuff being done. It was all so beautifully unfolded for the world.”
Gordon Paddison was New Line Cinema’s VP of Digital Marketing who took a risk engaging with fan sites early on. “Nobody is doing anything bad, its just that they care! That’s how you develop a relationship that lasts 20 years. It comes down to passion. Fans are passionate and I was a champion of the fans, as was everyone on this chat and Peter. A strategy of love is the best you can have.”
“Star Trek had been taking legal action and shutting down fan sites for years. This was the beginning of embracing fandom and we developed a great relationship working with you guys [at TheOneRing.net]. This video changed the velocity & tone of the fan response.”
“Peter was so good at saying very early to the fans that this is not the definitive version of Lord of the Rings, this is my personal impression of what the films should be. It did a lot to right-set the filmmaker vision and set us on a journey that was really humble. “
“I have a very in-depth trust in Peter. When he came to us that he wanted to do this trailer, there was no question that it was the right thing to do. I hadn’t seen a trailer like this, so I was surprised that there would be this level of reveal.”
Co-Producer Rick Porras describes the unique vision of this first teaser trailer, “What made it special was intercutting the old footage and seeing the filmmaker talk about it. Including Peter [in the video] really started something special.”
A big reveal is that the this teaser trailer actually includes footage of the original pitch package for studios to even make LOTR. Everything with Peter Jackson in a white shirt was part of the pitch package delivered to Miramax, New Line, and all other potential studios. New Line Cinema of course saw the vision and financed the films.
“The fans were so engaged. Normally you can hide under a rock for a while. The fans were getting materials and putting them out. From my experience you don’t want to get into a fight with your core market. We had to feed them!” Gordon Paddison acknowledging the fourth estate of filmmaking – the fan community.
Jed Brophy, in addition to playing many orc characters, was a horse rangler on the film and is actually in the teaser trailer as one of the nazgul nine. “It is a pretty incredible thing to see something you’ve done, which is just another day at work.”
Executive Producer Mark Ordesky was fully supportive of Peter & Gordon’s efforts releasing this teaser. “The best way is tell your own story before someone else tells it. What was genius about the trailer is Peter basically showed how he’s going to do things that you can’t possible imagine.”
“Think with hope, not with fear. I have come with answers.”
One of the fun tidbits revealed was that the ringer verse voice over was performed by Nick Tate, who has done everything from Jurassic Park to Spongebob. The Tolkienist was the first to reshare the discovery with fans!
Michael Pellerin expands on the Roy Disney story, confirming that LORD OF THE RINGS was indeed a Disney film at its inception because of the Miramax deal. Miramax was a subsidiary of Walt Disney Studios, and to this day Harvey Weinstein is credited as Executive Producer on LOTR.
“In April of 2000, I was in NYC in an audio recording session with Roy Disney, for a project I was finishing up with him. I had been counting down the days until the first LOTR online preview was to be released and it just happened to occur while we were in the studio. I tried to be as surreptitious as I could, waiting for the preview to drop on my laptop. But Roy could see I was obviously up to something — probably not having to do with our show. So he asked me what I was doing, and I fessed up to him that the first LOTR preview was about to appear online, and I couldn’t miss it. Instead of reprimanding me, Roy said we should all take a break from the session and watch it together — which we did.
When it was over, Roy turned to me and was duly impressed. He said he thought Peter and New Line were really going to pull off what many felt was impossible — a motion picture of The Lord of the Rings – and that the project had found the right home, after all, with a director who was clearly a visionary. This was an amazing comment by a man whose progenitors founded the Walt Disney Company, and who himself was one of its chairmen. Especially in light of the fact that Disney that was the parent company of Miramax, the studio that was originally producing Peter Jackson’s film version of LOTR, before it went into turnaround and ended up as a trilogy of films for New Line Cinema. Technically speaking, Peter Jackson’s LOTR was originally a Disney film, in its inception. So hearing Roy Disney express the same hope and feeling of excitement we all had watching that preview, felt like a sense of closure to a long journey that began in 1997, and was soon to make cinematic history.”
TheOneRing.net wants to thank all the participants for engaging with the fans from those early days to now, 20 years later, in such a respectful and candid nature. THANK YOU Gordon Paddison, Richard Taylor, Jed Brophy, Mark Ordesky, Michael Pellerin, & Rick Porras for making the time to celebrate this record setting trailer release.
Watch the entire conversation as it streamed live here:
As widely reported on March 31, Andrew Jack, the supervising dialect coach for The Lord of the Rings trilogy, has passed from complications related to COVID-19. Reactions across film industry and fandom were immediately filled with shock and sadness, bringing home the importance of safety during this pandemic.
Andrew Jack was one of the most respected dialect coaches in Hollywood having worked on hundreds of films & shows including Star Wars, James Bond, MARVEL cinematic universe, and Batman. His crowning achievement may well be Peter Jackson’s LORD OF THE RINGS in his capacity as senior supervising dialect coach, as he aligned all the various actors’ speech patterns into the cohesive dialects of Middle-earth.
Accents and dialects were a top concern of Ringer fans as LOTR began production in the year 2000, with online debates spilling into newspapers on whether the four hobbits – cast with actors from 3 different countries – would even sound the same. As we all know J.R.R. Tolkien himself was a philologist who made a career of language, and many fans have adopted his passion for linguistics. New Line Cinema realized how critically important the dialects would be to these films, they hired Hollywood’s expert dialect coach in Andrew Jack.
Ian Mckellen said at the time, in 2000, “Andrew Jack is following carefully Tolkien’s own instructions in his appendices to the novels.” When asked about pronouncing Saruman’s name, “We call him SAH – ru- mahn. I ran this answer past our pronunciation adviser Andrew Jack who adds: “It depends on who is saying it!”
Karl Urban (Eomer) was currently working with Andrew Jack for the second time on his Amazon series THE BOYS writing, “Andrew was such a gentle giant and a man who possessed such great generosity of spirit. He was extraordinarily talented, professional and an absolute joy to work with.”
The party continues! We’re still celebrating 20 years of TheOneRing.net (check out the message boards for all the fun and games), and yesterday we received another lovely video message. This comes all the way from New Zealand; check out what Richard Taylor had to say. (You may want to be sitting down before you watch this one…) Thanks so much, Richard!
This past week, the New Zealand Government and executives from Amazon TV held a meeting in an effort to address concerns about a lack of studio capacity in Auckland. This planned 5 season LOTR series is a big production that will require quite a lot of studio space for filming, post production facilities and local crews, so of course they want to make sure the resources exist that they need. It appears that a decision or deal may be made within the next month, so we don’t have long to wait. You can see the source of this story at Stuff.Co.NZ.
You may be wondering why Auckland and not Wellington, but that is easily explained by the fact that the Avatar trilogy of films currently in pre-production will soon be moving into full production. While the Amazon LOTR production will be big, Avatar is going to be much bigger, and there may or may not be enough room for both as far as studio and post-production facilities go.
This leads to a much bigger debate on whether or not this new series should look and feel much like the existing Middle-earth films or whether it should blaze its own path for design and locations. The appeal to any production of not having to look for too many new locations can’t be understated. Film and TV productions are always having to research and locate interesting places that fit what the production needs, so the fact that so many locations in New Zealand have already been established as feeling like Middle-earth is a boon. But then, there are hundreds of beautiful places around the world, and with chunks of filming now happening in studios, does it really matter where those studios are? Is it possible that Amazon can do location filming in New Zealand and Studio work in London, Hollywood or Vancouver? Or why not film in British Columbia, or Northern Ireland or Slovenia for that matter?
J.R.R. Tolkien and Edith Bratt, soon to be Tolkien
Tolkien fandom finds itself with an embarrassment of riches in 2018. The Tolkien Biopic has wrapped principal photography and is currently in post-production. There will be a new book out featuring Gondolin, edited by Christopher Tolkien. The most recent update about the Amazon Studios’ TV series is now confirmed to be a 5 season commitment. And then word starts to filter through that there are current negotiations for an actual Middle-earth Theme Park.(more…)
Check your calendars. This is not, I repeat NOT one of our famous (or infamous) TORn April fools jokes. Variety broke the story tonight that Warner Bros. is in talks with Amazon to develop a series based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings novels! According to Variety, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is personally involved in the negotiations, which are still in the very early stages.
On December 18, 2001, TheOneRing.net introduced a new feature on our site: Ringer Reviews – “A database of reviews from Tolkien fans all over the world, whether you loved, liked or hated the film this is where you can express your feelings in words and celebrate with your fellow fans the release of the first installment in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.” Twenty-four hours later, fans had posted 3,000 reviews. By Christmas the count was up to 6,700 and on January 19, 2002, a month after FOTR opened, over 10,000 reviews had been submitted.
Today the count stands at 15,084 reviews. Unfortunately, the individual reviews reside on our old site and have been archived. But, we thought it might be fun to revisit some of the overall results, more of which can be found at the Ringer Reviews link above.
A number of other sites around the internet are also celebrating the 15th anniversary of the opening of The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring this week, and/or The Lord of the Rings movie franchise in general. For the convenience of our readers, we put together this one-stop shop for a stroll down memory lane. We’ll bring more to you during the week as we find them. Enjoy!
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 moviepilot.com 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.
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 TheLord 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.
Check 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…
For 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.
Stuff.co.nz 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.”
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