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:
It is hard to believe that 20 years ago today, we got our first collective tease at what would become the greatest film trilogy of all time. (Yea…I said it.)
Way back on March 31st, 2000 – New Line sent out an update for those folks subscribed to their newsletter…footage was going to be released officially on April 7th. (See our squee-worthy post from 2000)
The waiting game began. If you want to take a trip down memory lane, check out all of our headlines from that timeframe. The child-like exuberance of our staff in anticipation of the trailer was unmatched. One particular enthusiastic staffer – some guy named Calisuri – even kept a daily countdown that eventually went into an hourly countdown.
Then in the early hours of April 7th, the official website posted the trailer and our lifelong dream of seeing The Lord of the Rings on the big-screen become a reality. By the time Peter Jackson says ‘This is the time,’ and the screen fills with an army of Uruk-hai, we could barely contain our joy. The Ring Verse is read while Carmina Burana builds the tension, and we all couldn’t get enough of the magic.
TheOneRing.net staff immediately went to work on our Frame by Frame analysis, and as you will see on that page, we kept updating for days and months afterwards.
The ‘internet trailer’ for Lord of the Rings became the most downloaded preview in history and holds a special place in film history as a result.
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.”
Looking for that perfect holiday gift for your favorite fan of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings movies? Look no further! Monday, December 16 could be your lucky day. That’s the day Julien’s Auctions, known for their auctions packed with Hollywood collectibles, will be auctioning off one of the original tobacco pipes used by Sir Ian Holm in his role as Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring! The pipe will come fully documented for authenticity by both Peter Jackson and Animation Designer and Supervisor, Randall William Cook.
According to the Julien’s Auctions website: Jackson personally gifted this production artifact to animation supervisor Randall William Cook in celebration of Cook’s 50th birthday during the making of the film. Included with the prop is the original birthday card from Jackson to Cook when the gift was presented to Cook on his birthday as well as a letter of authenticity from Cook.
What lessons can Amazon learn from the team that’s been there & back again? Let’s find out! Join TORn Tuesday hosts Cliff Broadway and Justin Sewell for an epic All-Star LOTR panel tomorrow! Joining us will be Mark Ordesky (Executive Producer), Sean Astin (Actor – Sam Gamgee), Rick Porras (Co-producer), Jim Rygiel (Visual Effects Supervisor), Michael Pellerin (Producer, multiple LOTR & Hobbit documentaries), Keith Stern (Ian McKellen’s Digital Manager), and Sala Baker (Actor – Sauron), as we all relive memories of filming LORD OF THE RINGS. What were those early days on set like? Did producers follow the fan discussion online? What made this effort so special? Get your deep knowledge questions ready for this multi-Oscar winning team and join the Live chat tomorrow 5pm PT. There are three options to watch the live stream, each of which let you comment and ask questions of your own:
Amazon Prime’s Twitter and Facebook accounts have just dropped a new video introducing fans to the team of creators behind their new “Lord of the Rings” Prequel Series!
This includes such faces as showrunners J.D. Payne & Patrick McKay, as well the vast team of accomplished writers, producers, director J.A. Bayona, our beloved Tolkien artist John Howe and renowned Tolkien scholar Tom Shippey (yours truly would be lying if he didn’t say these last two fill him particularly with joy!).
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!
When our friends from within the Tolkien Community heard we’re having a special birthday they sent us these lovely messages as part of our celebrations. So Happy 20th Anniversary TORn! Here’s to many many more!
Kia Ora TORn,
Happy 20th Anniversary, well done on making this wonderful achievement! We have been involved with TORn through one of your founding members Erica Challis, from New Zealand since 2002. We have enjoyed the fantastic Premier movie parties that Red Carpet Tours has provided and TORn attended, along with the stars from the films. Looking forward to future calibrations and hopefully a great Lotr TV series for all the fans. Congratulations again on 20 years! Best regards, Julie James and the team at Red Carpet Tours.
Happy 20th Birthday to TheOneRing.net from The Brisbane Tolkien Fellowship. We hope you continue to have another successful 20 years at least sharing the news of all things Middle-earth.
Dear Friends at TheOneRing,
Congratulations on reaching the ripe old age of 20 ; ) Thank you for all the support and love you’ve given us all.
When I took the job of playing Ori in The Hobbit, I didn’t think I’d collect so many chums. Like the cast, you too are part of my extended dysfunctional Tolkien family!
Have a great celebration – drink, be merry… and avoid the green food! See you all soon. Adam x
A big happy 20th anniversary to TheOneRing.net ! All this time you have been delivering to us critical and wonderful news regarding the world of JRR Tolkien, from the books to the films to the Collectibles and everything in between. May 20 more years be forthcoming!
Cheers, Jerry Vanderstelt
Our good friend Donato Giancola also has given us a mathom to offer to you all! For the next ten days, you can get 50% (!!) off on all of Donato’s incredible art prints. Just use the coupon code TORN at checkout. Take a look at the wonderful prints on sale, here. Thanks so much, Donato!
I can’t believe it’s been 20 years already – it’s been an amazing community to have been a part of, and all good wishes to everyone involved, from everyone at Welly-moot!
Jack Machiela Welly-moot.com
We will be adding more messages to this post as and when we receive them, so do check back! Thanks to everyone who has sent greetings and anniversary messages!
You may not know his name, but outside of being a co-investor in the LOTR films, Samuel Hadida through his Davis-Films production company and his Metropolitan FilmExport distribution company in France helped make or distribute numerous films you would have heard of, including the Resident Evil franchise, True Romance, and the Silent Hill films and this year’s Hunter Killer. This reporter first encountered Samuel Hadida at San Diego Comic con when he brought Solomon Kane to Hall H in 2009. He was a champion of indie and genre films, and without his output deal with New Line Cinema, Lionsgate and Dreamworks, we might not have ever gotten the LOTR or the Hunger Games films.
Mark Ordesky, Executive Producer on the Lord of the Rings films said of him;
“Shocked and saddened. Sammy was so dear and brimming with life. One of many memories is indelible: His company was a co-investor in The Lord Of The Rings trilogy and needless to say the stakes were high. After we premiered the first public footage in Cannes 2001, Sammy lifted me off the ground and kissed me in his excitement. He lived and bet his passions and I’ll miss him terribly. We should all aspire to love our lives and jobs as much as he did. My deepest sympathy to his brother, Victor, and all who loved him.”
We at TORn also send out a heartfelt ‘Thank You’ for his courage in being a financial partner on the LOTR film, and send our condolences to his family and friends on his passing at such a young age. You can read more on his work at Passing of French Distributor Samuel Hadida
Solomon Kane panel at SDCC 2009 with Samuel Hadida second from left, Director Michael J Bassett and actor James Purefoy on the right. AICN’s Quint was the moderator on the far left.
This one’s come as a bolt from the blue! Throughout this year Rhino Records has been releasing limited editions of the Complete Recordings of The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the Kingon coloured vinyl.
And to wrap things up, they’ve just announced that the original motion picture soundtracks (the 2001, 2002, and 2003 OSTs that accompanied the theatrical releases of the films) will be available as part of a Limited-Edition 6-LP Trilogy BoxedSet from November 30, 2018.
No details yet on the edition limit, but for the record, the FOTR vinyl set was limited to 5,000 while those for TTT and ROTK were limited to 8,000 each.
Rhino Records’ official press release and track listing follow.
Cliff and Justin are welcoming a very special guest to TORn Tuesday today – and they’re going live at an earlier time than usual, so they can have Dwalin himself, aka Graham McTavish, join them at the Scum and Villainy Cantina!
Amongst the many topics the conversation will undoubtedly cover, McTavish will be revealing more about his upcoming directorial debut, horror comedy This Guest of Summer. McTavish has described the film as ‘The Wicker Man meets Withnail & I’, in the style of some of the more camp 1970s Hammer Horror films! Part of the funding for the movie is being raise by crowdfunder, and there are some amazing Hobbit related perks on the Indiegogo campaign. Weta artist Daniel Falconer is creating a new, original illustration of McTavish as Dwalin, which will be mounted and framed along with a golden coin from Smaug’s lair – taken from the set of the movie! This extraordinary, unique piece – which will of course be signed by Falconer and McTavish – could be yours, to hang on your wall and be the envy of your fellow fans!
There are also hardback editions of The Hobbit to be had – signed by McTavish, Adam Brown, Aidan Turner and Ian McKellen! Plus other items signed by Hobbit actors. The campaign only has FOUR days left to run, so head over there now and grab yourself an incredible collectible!
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