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.
A report has appeared in Scotland’s Daily Record stating that representatives of Amazon Studios were scouting filming locations for their Lord of the Rings TV project in Scotland over the summer. This story is light on details, so we at TORn are treating this information as rumors, for now. These location scouts purportedly traveled as tourists, checking out various locales around Scotland, which offered the opportunity for a meaningful connection with the local communities. (more…)
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.
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…)
When Amazon Studios first announced their big production deal last November for a Lord of the Rings television series, there was just one thing missing, a big name attached to the project. There was no Producer, Showrunner or even a Writer or team of Writers to indicate the direction these stories might take and give confidence to fans that Middle-earth would be in good hands.
It has been confirmed that the Guillermo Del Toro has signed on with Amazon Studios, in conjunction with his Tequila Gang production company, to Executive Produce and write this iteration of Middle-earth. He brings with him his co-writer, Chuck Hogan from The Strain. Del Toro’s long time manager, Gary Ungar says that they have already begun identifying and sifting through possible stories that exist within the Appendices, separating out those that are more fleshed out in other Tolkien properties. Because the deal with the Tolkien Estate and Trust is still in flux, they are currently only looking at storylines they know won’t be a legal issue so they can get down to writing.
During that time waiting for The Hobbit project to finally get going, Guillermo Del Toro spent nearly two years breaking down The Hobbit and working with pre-production designs for the story he was helping to craft. His visual style and ability to create wild and very unique looks was one of the reasons fans came to really anticipate Del Toro’s take on Middle-earth. We wanted to see what he would do with the Elves and Dwarves and even Men, and we especially wanted to see what he would have come up with for all the monsters. When he finally had to leave the project because it was dragging on too long waiting for a green light, fans felt a sense of loss and mourned The Hobbit that could have been.
This is why Del Toro is perfect for this project. He already has a deep knowledge of the source material, including what can and can not be included legally, and he’s got designs that never got the see the light of day. Because Peter Jackson and WETA are not going to be involved in the Amazon Studios production, there is little reason to maintain strict adherence to the design motifs put in place for the various races. The only design features required are within Tolkien’s books, and beyond that, Del Toro will get to finally let loose with his own, distinct look and feel with very little constraint. What will his Numenor look like? Will we see a Northern Kingdom or meet a young Aragorn, as Thorongil, as he journey’s about Middle-earth learning the skills he will later need to become King?
Amazon has already announced that it will be developing a Lord of the Rings series set before the events of the original films. The company reportedly spent $250 million to acquire the rights alone and, according to that same report, marketing and productions costs for two seasons could raise the investment to $500 million. It is still unclear if these stories will be told in a series of anthology like episodes or story arcs, or if there will be a much wider, more epic scope to the narrative.
Amazon Studios will produce the series in cooperation with the Tolkien Estate and Trust, book publishers HarperCollins, and New Line Cinema.
Spring is about to roll in, bringing with it longer days, milder temperatures, trees in blossom and flowers bursting out in a riot of color, and the ensuing allergies. Spring also brings Tolkien Reading Day on March 25th, and in Anaheim, California it brings Wondercon, the little sister to San Diego International Comic-con.
This year, we have our panel scheduled on Sunday, March 25th, coinciding with Tolkien Reading day, so do expect some reading of the Professor’s text during the presentation. This will be a round up of all things Middle-earth, as you can tell from the title: “Dispatches from Middle-earth: What’s new with all things Tolkien” Here are the complete details:
Dispatches from Middle-earth: What’s new with all things Tolkien
Sunday March 25, 2018 – – 10:30am-11:30am, North 200B
TheOneRing.net staffers discuss new Tolkien projects coming this year and beyond. They will start off with a discussion about the Tolkien Biopic that recently wrapped filming and then head straight into fact, fiction, and rumors surrounding the new Middle-earth stories coming from Amazon Studios. As in previous years, WonderCon coincides with Tolkien Reading Day, so they will be reading snippets of the Professor’s words to further their discussions. Also celebrating the 15th Anniversary of the release of Oscar-winning Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.
North in the room listing refers to the new North building, which is near the Arena, do make sure to have a map or have looked at one to find the new rooms being used this year. While it is expanding, this convention is still so much smaller, more intimate and easier to navigate than SDCC. Our panel is one of the first on Sunday morning, but parking will still be a bit challenging, so give yourself plenty of time to arrive, find parking and get through security and find us in the new building.
We are still researching and finalizing all the little tidbits that will appear in our presentation. But you can expect a little talk about the 15th anniversary of the release of ROTK, info on the Tolkien biopic that has now wrapped principal photography, and the latest info from Amazon Studios regarding the expansion of the Middle-earth universe. 2018 is shaping up to be a marvelous year for fans of Tolkien, with plenty more to come in the years after.
In a fascinating article, TORn staffer and author Kristin Thompson gives us some invaluable insight into some of the legal wranglings which may have led to this new The Lord of the Rings television series deal:
The announcement that Amazon will be producing a multi-season television series based on The Lord of the Rings has caused much speculation and not a little confusion. One common assumption seems to be that the television rights to the two hobbit novels were sold to United Artists in 1969, when it obtained the production and distribution rights to make film adaptations. (more…)
In addition to the many fans that posted their reviews on TORn (see yesterday’s article: 15,084 Reviews and Counting), many of our core staff chimed in with reviews soon after FOTR opened. In this article, we bring you reviews by such well-known names as Xoanon, Tehanu, Quickbeam and Ostadan. All of them capture the magic and excitement that we all experienced 15 years ago.
To begin, one lucky staffer, Tehanu, the envy of all of us, was lucky enough to attend the film’s premier in Wellington, New Zealand. Of course, Tehanu (a.k.a. Erica Challis) is one of TORn’s founders and served as our ‘feet on the ground’ and number one Ringer Spy during filming. Here are some of her impressions from the day:
“I’ve been in Wellington for a day or two and I have to tell you, the town is in a Rings uproar. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else right now. The streets are hung with LOTR banners, everything from the Town Hall to the Evening Post’s headquarters is renamed ‘Middle Earth’ (as is the airport, I believe, though I haven’t seen that myself.) The Rings is on every newspaper, every phone bill, every electricity company billboard, on the ads for Mastercard. There are funny billboards harping on LOTR themes everywhere (“Wellington: Full of orcs, hobbits and elves. …But enough about Parliament…..”). The monster cave troll dominates Courtenay Place from its perch on the awning of the Embassy Theatre, where the plasterers are working round the clock to finish the theatre in time for the Premiere.”
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!
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
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