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:
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!
Aussies watching the ABC’s News Breakfast show would have seen the exciting news that Weta Workshops latest project is opening today in Melbourne. This latest project, Bug Lab: Little Bugs, Super Powers, is a giant-sized exhibition focused on all things creepy crawly. Anyone familiar with LOTR and the Hobbit will have no doubt how effective these creepy crawlies will appear. The exhibit consists of six giant replicas and aim to give visitor an up-close view of the micro world beneath our feet.
It really was the best of times. Not just the opening night of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (or whenever you saw the film for the first time). What about when you first found out that Lord of the Rings films were being made? Maybe, like staffer Garfeimao, it prompted you to start searching the internet and you found TORn. Perhaps, like staffer Magpie, you had been longing for something different and/or better than the animated movies (no matter how sentimental and quaint they seem now). Perhaps you were a lifelong fan of J.R.R. Tolkien, and had misgivings like deej and JPB. For me, it was all of the above!
Please enjoy reading the memories and impressions of some of our core staff, and share your own memories of how you learned of the LOTR movie, how you found TheOneRing.net and/or what your first impressions of FOTR were, either in the comments section, or on our Lord of the Rings Movie discussion forum.
From stuff.co.nz: Peter Jackson along with fellow Oscar winner Jamie Selkirk stepped down from Sir Richard Taylor’s Miramar workshop on December 31, Companies Office documents show. The change comes ahead of new legislation which would make directors personally liable for health and safety, which the Institute of Directors said demonstrated that directors needed to be across all aspects of the business. Jackson and Selkirk both still own about one third of Weta Workshop.
Weta Workshop senior communications manager Erik Hay confirmed the law change was behind the move for Jackson and Selkirk. “The reason was centred around the law change, which will require them to be more involved on a daily basis. As a manufacturing business, it’s important they are. Peter felt he was not and decided to step out of the piece. They will still retain shares in the company.” Read more…
The long-rumored movie museum for Wellington took a step toward realization after the team behind the dream presented its vision to the Wellington City Council.
Fans of the cinematic versions of Middle-earth will rejoice that the team behind the proposal is led by none other than Sir Peter Jackson and Sir Richard Taylor. The company, The Movie Museum Limited, or TMML, hopes to bring together material from the duo’s many film projects as well as their own “world-renowned movie collections,” according to a release after the meeting this week.
“There is a vast collection of incredible material from the world-famous movies that have been worked on by the companies in Miramar,” said project director George Hickton. “What is less well-known is that Peter and Fran (Walsh), Richard and Tania (Rodger) also have their own personal collections of film and television memorabilia which is one of the best in the world.”
Richard Taylor and Peter with team on King Kong.
It is expected that the museum will offer both permanent and temporary exhibition spaces, a cafe, offices and a retail shop.
The presentation, according to the release, was part of considering a new site proposed for the museum that will also include a space for gatherings, such as conventions.
Hickton said Wellington has been known for world-class film making for two decades.
“For much of that time, the driving force behind Wellington’s success has been Peter Jackson and Richard Taylor and their partners Fran Walsh and Tania Rodger as well as the Weta Group of companies they established on the Miramar Peninsula.
“From small beginnings, Wellington is today a thriving centre of film-making creativity and excellence, creating thousands of jobs for New Zealanders and attracting major film and television productions and some of the best directors, producers, actors, artists and technicians from around the world.”
Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor and their team on Heavenly Creatures
The concept means the Wellington City Council will provide TMML with a long-term lease of a building built with a museum in mind, constructed and owned by the council. The movie museum organization, if the proposal is accepted, would be responsible for setting up the museum, day-to-day operation and maintenance of the facility.
The hope would be to give Wellington a tourism draw, both to New Zealand and internationally. Readers of of TORn can probably imagine the appeal.
A three-story building is expected, with top floor dedicated to a meeting space for 1100 with the bottom two floors to house the museum with 10,000 square meters of space. The museum is near Te Papa, Wellington’s world-class museum and sit between Wakefield and Cable Streets.
More details, the release said, would be released once the council decides on the proposal and planning and construction begins.
TORn will update this story with more details as they are available. Click on any of the photos for a larger version. (Cinema fans, this is highly recommended.)
Peter Jackson’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car
Richard Taylor and Peter Jackson on Heavenly Creatures
Wellington may soon announce the often speculated-about film museum that has been in the media rumor mill for well more than a decade. Stuff.co.nz is reporting that construction will start next year on a combination museum and convention center space.
A three-story building is expected, with top floor dedicated to a meeting space for 1100 with the bottom two floors to house the museum with 10,000 square meters of space. Approval of a land purchase is expected as soon as Tuesday for the space to build the museum. It is expected to house permanent collections as well as temporary ones.
The article says the museum will be run by The Movie Museum Limited, a company formed by Sirs Peter Jackson and Richard Taylor. The two men are cinema fans and each owns a considerable film collection that will be featured in the museum.
The story also detailed that it would be across from Te Papa, Wellington’s world-class museum and sit between Wakefield and Cable Streets, the site it was rumored to be a possibility at before, at the end of Tory Street in Wellington. Construction is expected to see completion in 2018.
The article also said, “Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said it would be “extremely unlikely” for council to not to go ahead with the complex.”
Fans of Jackson and Taylor know the duo has a knack for presentation on screen and off with previous film exhibitions at Te Papa and even at media events for films. Taylor’s Weta Workshop has the Weta Cave in Wellington to showcase props and collectibles out of his Weta Workshop.
TORn will have the latest details as this story develops.
In celebration of the release today of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Extended Edition Blu-ray and DVD, we have another EXCLUSIVE clip to share with you! From the behind the scenes footage in the Bonus Features, this gives us a little more insight into dwarven armour. (Cosplayers, who will be the first to make Thorin’s unseen ‘Ram’s head’ armour??)
We’re delighted to bring you an excerpt from Cinefex‘s forthcoming behind-the-scenes account of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.
Joe Fordham’s 26-page feature in Cinefex 141 includes in-depth interviews with the film’s effects artists — and Peter Jackson — and is accompanied by 28 behind-the-scenes photos and frame clips from the movie. Many of them are exclusive to Cinefex.
Here’s a teaser exclusively for TheOneRing.net readers: (more…)
The winners of last month’s Hobbit Fan Contest that got to go to New Zealand and watch an in-progress cut of “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” and experience the beautiful scenes of the north and south islands and the hospitality of Air New Zealand and Tourism New Zealand, won their spots by producing short films.
As reports from the experience suggest, there was a great bonding of the 75 winners and their guests during the week-long tour of Middle-earth. These bonds are on display in a “thank you” video that the group organized to give to Peter Jackson and all the many folks who helped make the trip amazing. There is even a nod to TheOneRing.net which honestly touches us.
Turns out that crew can make a pretty great video with parts from all around the world. Their sincerity and appreciation really comes through and will make all fans proud. Enjoy! #HobbitFanContest
Ringer White Raven writes to us with this little snippet of some activity going on at the Roxy Theatre in Wellington where the NZ premiere of the Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies will occur on December 2 at 8.30am. (more…)
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