On a blustery March afternoon in San Francisco, when the clouds skirting past the tall buildings threatened showers of rain amidst the bashful bouts of sunlight, a handful of wanderers tucked into an office nook for a chat about a game of special significance. Three had come all the way from New Zealand to attend the Game Developer’s Convention (GDC) for the week, while two of the travelers were California locals. It was a merry meeting indeed, and I was delighted to have the opportunity to ask some questions about the upcoming video game Tales of the Shire: A The Lord of the Rings Game™.

Hailed as the first “cozy” game set in the world created by J.R.R. Tolkien, Tales of the Shire is highly anticipated by fans of the gaming genre and The Lord of the Rings afficionados alike. Made in partnership with Private Division, Wētā Workshop are creating a Tolkien experience unlike any other, centered on the quaint, quiet lives of Hobbits in the Shire.

“This is our love letter to Middle-earth,” said Calliope Ryder, the lead games producer for Wētā Workshop, “looking at it through really cosy eyes. We wanted to build something that was about the Shire, that was about Hobbits, with a visual look no one had seen before. There’s a strong narrative and strong elements of gameplay, but the most important part is that it’s peaceful. It’s about slow Hobbit living.”

Hobbitcore delight

Anyone who has followed my webseries Happy Hobbit on YouTube knows that my sister, family, and friends have been all about “slow Hobbit living” and celebrating a simple life for over a decade now. This game was music to my ears. “It sounds like it’s pure Hobbitcore,” I gushed.

“We are very keen to make all the Hobbitcore people happy,” said Morgan Jaffit, Executive Producer, with a broad smile. “That’s very important to us.”

“Hobbitcore” refers to an aesthetic similar to Cottagecore, highlighting slow living, simple food, friendship with the earth, gardening, cozy settings, and of course, quaint adventures: in short, anything that falls under the umbrella of living like a Hobbit in a romanticized fashion.

While Tales of the Shire is far from the first game set in Middle-earth, its gameplay is unique. Previous games such as the wildly successful Shadow of Mordor (2014) produced by Monolith Studios and Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment, and its sequel Shadow of War (2017) involve gameplay centered on violence, stealth, and killing. While there is a place for such slasher games, having an alternative focused on Hobbits, food, and community is a wonderfully therapeutic accompaniment.

Diversity in gaming

Perhaps it is the female-dominated realm of Cottagecore content giving this impression, but I had a preconceived notion that cozy games, such as my current favorite Wylde Flowers by Studio Drydock, were largely the realm of female gamers, which isn’t the case. As Ryder explained, “If we think about it in demographic terms, the stats that I’ve seen previously say that cosy is roughly 60% women. I think you’d be surprised by the diversity in the cosy setting; It’s more about what motivation that player has to be there, and that’s what we try to deliver.”

These assumptions are not without merit. For decades, gaming was a male-dominated realm, filled with games made by boys for boys. While the gaming industry is still a notoriously toxic space for women, progress is being made, and Ryder’s career is living proof. While plenty of women enjoy slasher games, cozy games have the appeal of being simpler in nature so that, while perfectly suited to longer gaming sessions, one may dip in for 20 minutes between other responsibilities and still feel satisfied having achieved a bit of soothing escapism.

Therapeutic escape

This need for therapeutic virtual spaces became prominent during the global pandemic. The concept for the game was born out of a desire to escape into the Shire amidst the uncertainty and fear of 2020.

“That’s one of the initial inspirations to make Tales of the Shire,” explained Ryder. “It sort of sprang up around that time, and there was this big cosy Cottagecore boom at the time because people want to connect with nature. This was our version of looking at what we know, which is The Lord of the Rings and Middle-earth, [and asking], how can we create something that really gives back, and gives people an escapist experience in a place that they would really want to go to, and leans into that Cottagecore and Hobbitcore aesthetic?”

Make no mistake, this is the game I have been waiting for nearly all my life. “To me, it sounds therapeutic.”

“Exactly,” Ryder replied. “I play cosy games to relax or to process things. And this is a game in which we want people to feel like they can unwind and chill in the Shire.”

Lingering in the Shire

Before the announcement of Tales of the Shire, the closest Tolkien gamers could get to cozy virtual Hobbit content was The Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO) produced by Standing Stone Games and Middle-earth Enterprises, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game. While segments of LOTRO take place in Hobbiton, and there is certainly much Shire exploration in the open world of the MMORPG, the gameplay centers around quests and is lovingly loyal to the novels, where little time is spent in the idyllic countryside dotted with Hobbit holes and kitchen gardens.

“The engine that drives everything when you look at the journeys across both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings is this love of time and place, and it came from Tolkien’s passionate reminiscing of the world that he grew up in,” explained Jaffit. “We don’t spend much time in the Shire on the screen or in the novels, but it’s always there because it’s the thing that drives the engine of everything else. It’s the special thing about which you have a sense of loss, and a sense of wanting, and a sense of home. The Shire is the place that you actually don’t spend much time in but is constantly romanticized. So why not build something there? Everyone’s talking about it all the time. Live there? Yeah!”

Childhood inspiration

Jaffit’s enthusiasm is palpable and doesn’t just originate from a love of a fictional locale. Growing up on a farm in Victoria, Australia, he and his large family, “worked on the land and worked with horses in a small country town. Certainly, my upbringing is about rural town living and what that means. And this is a game about rural living and what that means, and it means something very special because it’s also progressively fading away.”

“Not to make my childhood sound incredibly idyllic,” Ryder added, “but I also grew up on farms in the Waikato region of New Zealand which, if you know much about The Lord of the Rings films, is in the same region the Shire was filmed. Something that would make me really happy is if players can feel just a little bit of what I felt when I was growing up feeding chickens, when I was only this big,” Ryder paused to hold her hand a few feet up from the floor. “They were actually terrifying dinosaurs!”

Having likewise grown up with a family garden, chickens, horses, and other livestock, I have a keen connection with the land and forest surrounding my home. Many people are not as fortunate to have had the same experiences as we three, and providing a digital space for others to connect with an agricultural lifestyle, the cycle of the seasons, and living in friendship with the Earth is a means of keeping a fading way of life alive and accessible.

“I really want our players to get a sense of the best bits captured in my memory of what it was like growing up in Waikato, New Zealand,” said Ryder.

“As we lose our living links to the past, we see that resurgence in interest as we realize that we have to ask for those stories from our parents or else miss the opportunity to hear them,” explained Jaffit. “You have to ask about the stories of the people you meet, otherwise you miss the living link.”

Return to a pre-industrialized world

The irony of discussing how Tolkien created the Shire out of nostalgia for the pre-industrialized world of his childhood, as we shared our mutual love of farm life in that room in San Francisco, against the backdrop of the Silicon Valley, surrounded by skyscrapers representing “big tech,” was not lost on anyone. “We live in such a busy world,” I offered, “and in a world where there’s so much negativity being crammed down our throats from every angle. I think that the timing couldn’t be better for a game like this.”

“It’s a bit bleak that ever since we started, we were being like ‘oh, the timing couldn’t be better,’ but it’s still like that. Now the timing really couldn’t be better,” agreed Ryder. “People need this cosy game. People need cosy things and people need that link [to the natural world] you are describing, and I really hope that they will get a little taste of that experience.”

While not everyone can have access to idyllic spaces like the Shire in real life, a virtual experience brought to life by Wētā Workshop is the next best alternative.

“Wētā Workshop is better at place than anybody on the planet,” said Jaffit. “What this game is about is building a place that is warm and gentle and beautiful, that you can get to visit and be inside and understand and appreciate. I think it’s really special.”

Handcrafted with care

“This game in particular feels very handcrafted,” Ryder elaborated. “So even though we have this enormous IP that is beloved world over, it’s a very handcrafted, loving take on an experience that feels more indie. Many of us working on the game haven’t come from film, or haven’t had other experiences with LOTR, but we do come from the indie scene, and we really infuse that love and care and the closeness that we want to build with community in an organic way.”

“It is a very ‘creativity first’ approach,” I offered, and both Ryder and Jaffit agreed. As a former Wētā Workshop crew member myself (helping pen Middle-earth from Script to Screen with Daniel Falconer), I greatly admire the way the Company not only honors but celebrates the creative process and collaboration. The team behind Tales of the Shire was able to draw upon Tolkien experts Daniel Falconer and Sir Richard Taylor for feedback as the game was developed, to ensure attention to detail and accuracy; both of which are incredibly important to a fanbase known for its love of lore.

Well-known characters – and a mystery duck

Set in the Third Age of Middle-earth, Tales of the Shire promises to have some familiar faces appear. While we seem to have already glimpsed the Wizard Gandalf in the teaser trailer, Tolkien fleshed out a great many of the Shire locals, and gamers can expect to encounter them. “We have some more [obvious characters] I think most people will recognize from the world they know, and then we have a lot of subtler ones for the hardcore fans who are really deep into the lore… and you’ll have some moments with them.”

One seemingly original character who caught the imagination of fans from the very first images released from the game is a duck wearing a Dwarven helmet. TheOneRing.net’s Discord and broader social media in general has been alive with speculation over the mystery duck. “Yeah, she is in herself a bit of a tease of something to come that we haven’t seen yet,” shared Ryder. “She’s a hint. She’s the Easter egg. She’s got a name. I won’t give you a name right now, but she has one.”

While the identity of this Mystery Duck remains a closely guarded secret for now, the presence of other fine-feathered friends didn’t escape my Hobbit senses. “In both teasers, the sound effects of chickens are featured heavily,” I said, before going in for what is likely the burning question all fans want answered. “Can we expect chickens to be integral to the game?”

“They will,” Ryder laughed. “Maybe not as much as we’ve hinted, but they are definitely there. Yeah, we have had quite a bit of fun.”

The full trailer for the game and release date have yet to be announced, so I remain in suspense amidst my fellow gamers as to the role of chickens and the identity of the Mystery Duck in Tales of the Shire.

Tales of the Shire will be available on PC and consoles, with a mobile version to be released via Netflix. Watch the announcement trailer below.

Kellie is known as “Kili” on Happy Hobbit, but also writes Fantasy novels and hosts a podcast under her pen name, K.M. Rice.

We’re delighted to share an exclusive interview from fellow Tolkien fanatic Eirik Bull – a journalist from Norway. He recently sat down with our friend, Weta Workshop’s own Daniel Falconer.

In Eirik’s interview with Daniel they cover a lot of topics, looking at Daniel’s history in working in Tolkien’s amazing world, as seen in Sir Peter Jackson’s brilliant adaptations over 20 years ago. Eirik and our friends at Weta asked us to share this interview – and you can look forward to another interview coming soon, with Sir Richard Taylor. We all hope you enjoy this amazing look at Daniel Falconer’s journey in Middle-earth.

Continue reading “Collecting The Precious – time spent with Weta Workshop’s Daniel Falconer”

Ever wished you could just move to the Shire, and live an idyllic, Hobbity sort of life? Well, now you can – kind of…

Private Division and Weta Workshop have today shared a trailer for their upcoming sim game, Tales of the Shire: A Lord of the Rings Game. It’s a bucolically blissful as you might expect; see for yourself:

Coming in the second half of 2024, Tales of the Shire will be available for Nintendo Switch™ system, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC via Steam. Here’s what the official press release tell us:

Welcome Home, Hobbit! Private Division and Wētā Workshop Announce Tales of the Shire: A The Lord of the Rings Game

Upcoming cosy The Lord of the Rings game set in the Middle-earth universe inspired by the books of J.R.R. Tolkien arrives later this year

New York, NY – April 22, 2024 – Private Division, a publishing label of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTWO), and Wētā Workshop, known for their work on the world of Middle-earth for The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, today revealed Tales of the Shire: A The Lord of the Rings Game, a cosy Hobbit life sim set in the Middle-earth universe of J.R.R. Tolkien. Developed by Wētā Workshop Game Studio, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Wētā Workshop, Tales of the Shire will launch in the second half of 2024 on the Nintendo Switch™ system, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC via Steam.

In Tales of the Shire, experience the storybook return to Middle-earth’s most inviting region by living life as a Hobbit in the idyllic town of Bywater. Unwind in the breathtaking pastures, visit the townsfolks’ local shops, or even enjoy second breakfast. Help bring the community together and achieve official village status by throwing the greatest Bywater Festival the Shire has ever seen!

“We’re excited to provide players with the opportunity to fulfil their fantasy of living their own humble Hobbit life in the Shire,” said Kelly Tyson, Head of Product at Wētā Workshop. “Tales of the Shire brings a cosy new dimension to the way fans can experience Middle-earth, with plenty of wholesome, Hobbit- centric gameplay to win-over newcomers to the genre.”

Create and personalise a Hobbit with an array of customisations to experience the world of J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved Middle-earth universe your own way. Settle in and decorate a cosy Hobbit home, choosing from an array of furniture and home décor to create your unique, humble abode. Then head outdoors to Bywater for plenty of cooking, fishing, foraging, gardening, and more relaxing activities in the Shire. Toss your lure to catch trout from the glistening waters of Bywater Pool, gather wild mushrooms, and then use the collected ingredients to bake a succulent pie to serve for luncheon. With a full belly, stroll back outside to explore the Shire and build relationships with the Bywater locals by helping them to build a garden, sharing one of the many daily Hobbit meals, and more.

“The team at Wētā Workshop is creating a brilliant representation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved works that gives players the agency to create their own Hobbit experience in Middle-earth,” said Michael Worosz, Chief Strategy Officer, Take-Two Interactive, and Head of Private Division. “Players have been clamoring for a warm and inviting The Lord of the Rings game for years now, and it’s exactly what we’re delivering with Tales of the Shire.”

It’s no surprise that a video game in which Weta Workshop have had a hand should be stunning to look at; here are some screenshots from the game:

Become a Hobbit, decorate your Hobbit hole, and then explore the Shire to your heart’s content; what could be better? Tales of the Shire: A Lord of the Rings Game can’t come soon enough!

Last Thursday our friends at Weta Workshop revealed one of their most beautiful environments, The Grey Havens is up for order. This piece captures the beauty and emotion of the Grey Havens perfectly.

Like all previous limited edition pieces, fans have a two-week window to place their order, with pre-orders closing on February 8th at 4 PM PST. The Grey Havens piece is available via pre-order for $799, and it is expected to ship at the end of this year.

Two further pieces Weta Workshop announced are for all fans of The Return of the King coronation sequence. From Weta Workshops classic series, representing that beautiful scene from the film, fans can now pre-order the awesome-looking King Aragorn and the stunning Coronation Arwen right now for $399 each.

Continue reading “Collecting The Precious – Weta Workshop’s Grey Havens, King Aragorn, and Coronation Arwen”

It has been fifty years since the Professor sailed into the West, and the Tolkienverse is still thriving. Which is great news for any who wish to pass along the passion as part of their holiday gift-giving, or perhaps pass along that personal hint to your favorite Father Christmas. It’s time for the OneRing staff to gather our collective guidance and bring you our annual Holiday Gift-Giving Guide: the Middle-earth Edition! We’ve pored over a lengthy lineup, narrowing our recommendations down to twelve, one for each day that you and your true love may be mingling under the proverbial pear tree. May you find your Arkenstone somewhere on the list!

For book lovers
  1. Let’s start with something to warm every book purist’s heart: The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien: Revised and Expanded Edition. This is probably the consensus number one pick across all of our TORn staff Fellowship. Just released on November 14, and available broadly from your favorite source for books, this updated edition sees Humphrey Carpenter going back to his original typescripts and notes, restoring more than 150 letters that were excised from the 1981 edition to achieve what was then deemed a “publishable length.” Fortunately our appetite continues to grow for more content on Tolkien and his world in general, and especially commentary on his writings. Anyone for an expanded “Letter 131”, hearing more about a plot summary of the entirety of The Lord of the Rings, or getting Tolkien’s vision for publishing his “Tales of the Three Ages”?

2. Our senior staff member greendragon tends to split her time between America and her home in Scotland, which also boasts one of her favorite sources for unique and beautiful Tolkien-themed gifts: Oscha Slings. And Oscha has just released a number of new items on their website. greendragon enthuses: “In past years, I’ve picked one of their shawls and a throw as gifts; this year, however, I’m excited because their clothing line is back!  The Oscha Wear range includes t-shirts, hoodies, and more, in a variety of sizes and styles – and there is even a range of baby grows! Oscha’s woven pieces are incredible, and are an investment; but now you can add some of their stunning designs to your wardrobe at a lower price point. T-shirts for all the Middle-earth fans in your life this holiday season!  (If you ARE up for splurging, to treat yourself or that special someone, check out Oscha’s new Imladris design. I still haven’t picked my jaw up off the floor, after seeing this…)” And don’t forget to check out their Middle-earth Mug collection!

Collectibles

3. It’s the 20th anniversary of The Return of the King! We’ve even got some staffers – such as deej and Madeye Gamgee – heading to the Land of the Long White Cloud next month in search of Kiwi celebrations. But those are a bit tough to fit into a stocking. No fear! New Zealand Post has once again got you covered. Having already marked the last two years with commemorative collectibles celebrating The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers, they’re now ready to help you complete the set! Check out some amazing RotK pieces – coins, stamps and pins – that will put you in the mood to celebrate the Days of the King!  Beautiful stamps show images from the final movie in the trilogy, complete with ‘hidden messages’ – an iconic line from the film hidden in each design. Or along with some of us staffers, you might prefer to receive for the holiday season a set of the stunning coins. There are four in total, depicting Meduseld, Gondor, the Beacons, and Gandalf crowning Aragorn. They tie together beautifully as a set, and would be a wonderful addition to any collection. 

4. Staffer Justin has been enthusing lately about Wizards of the Coast’s entry into Middle-earth through its massively popular Magic: the Gathering line.  Last June the Wizards released a highly anticipated The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth set. For gamers, the “Universes Beyond” card set has integrated Magic’s deep and strategic game-play with settings from Middle-earth (and not just the movies). With the holidays upon us, November 3 saw a new release to expand the set, including a special collection of four Scene Boxes that portray iconic LotR moments, each scene combining six borderless cards that together create a large scene that you can display on the included easel. New booster packs offer the chance to score alternative art, courtesy of the classic 70’s era Hildebrandt brothers, or some very funky “poster art” cards that have some of us humming The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins as we open our boosters.  Fun!

5. The OneRing’s “Collecting the Precious” champion, Elessar, has passed along a couple of favorite gift-giving treasure troves, starting with our friends at Weta Workshop. Weta has been prolific with a host of new offerings aligned with the 20th anniversary of the PJ films, and you can find an array of figures, environments, prop replicas, t-shirts, art posters, etc. on their site. Elessar has highlighted a collection of them designed to fit many budgets, from new entries in Weta’s mini-epic and mini-statue lines like the King of the Dead, Sauron and Treebeard; to additions to their classic figures like a stunning Gondorian Fountain Guard; all the way to the threatening new environment, The Black Gate. Plus, Weta typically offers some great Black Friday promotions, so keep an eye out!

Toys

6. Elessar has also had his eye on a growing list of companies offering new Lord of the Rings lines, like Diamond Select Toys. You’ll find dioramas (like Aragorn), a collection of blind box mini-figures, and action figures galore (like a Nazgûl) on their site. Plus they have some terrific new offerings that you can pre-order now for delivery in early 2024. (I would be remiss should I fail to mention my man Sam in that lineup.)

7. Judging from our social media feeds as well as our own obsessions on the OneRing staff, Rivendell has been a glorious new addition to the Lego Lord of the Rings universe. Boasting 3 stunning sections, 15 mini-figures, and over 6,000 pieces, you’ll need (and want) to find a generous space in your home to keep Elrond and company on permanent display. Bonus points for any who add on one of the special lighting kits available from multiple vendors like Lighttailing and Light My Bricks.

8. It’s back to the books for Madeye Gamgee, this time with a glorious new edition of The Hobbit. Published in September, the book features over 50 sketches, drawings, paintings and maps by J.R.R. Tolkien himself and with the complete text printed in two colors. The additional art pieces from the author – although exhibited and published elsewhere – have never appeared within the pages of the book itself. You can find the hardback edition broadly, or for a book this beautiful, you may want to splurge on the special deluxe boxed edition, which comes with two poster-size, fold-out maps revealing all the detail of Thror’s Map and Wilderland, an illustrated 88-page booklet, and a printed art card reproducing Tolkien’s original dust jacket painting.

9. Staffer Mithril has some kingly gifts to suggest. First up is the Lord of the Rings Tarot Deck from Insight Editions.  Written by Casey Gilly and illustrated by Tomás Hijo, Mithril describes this as “like getting a mini gallery of art and a Palantír in a box.” It’s available at HerUniverse.com and on Amazon.  If you’re in the mood for some Middle-earth inspired ornamentation on a more standard card deck, take a spin over to the King’s Wild Project or Theory11 for some amazing embellishments for poker night.

Jewelry

10. Our friends at Badali Jewelry have expanded their licensed offerings to a multiverse of fandoms, but their Middle-earth collection has always been like the Three-Farthing Stone in the Shire: right at the center. Check out their array of offerings like the Arkenstone, Shieldmaiden earrings, or their Palantir Locket.  Staffer Mithril is a particular fan of their latest line of the Nine “Rings of Men”, with notable affection for the Ring of Númenor. Pick out your own Ring of Power! Captivate your friends! Watch out for shieldmaidens with swords!

Clothing

11. Staffer Tanya keeps an eye out for sources of attire fit for hobbits, elves, Rohirrim, and  other Middle-earth denizens.  Three in particular have caught her eye and heart this year. She writes of Linennaive as offering “several options for Hobbit costuming, focusing on creating dresses using natural fibers. It currently has a Black Friday sale at its website, which assists with the slightly higher pricing for quality work.” Next up is Holy Clothing, a regular shopping spot for my own Rosie. Tanya writes that they’re “an ethical clothing brand out of Asia that pays their tailors fair wages, and gives 15% of their profits to charities. They have dresses named ‘Arwen,’ ‘Eowyn,’ and ‘Tauriel,’ and I admit I am eyeing up this excellent cloak for my own Christmas list.”  The final entry on Tanya’s shopping list is Scarlet Darkness: “they have a variety of extremely affordable outfit options that are still perfectly acceptable at, say, a congregation of Elves at DragonCon, or your local renfest. (I might have used this site for DragonCon myself!) The pricing is very fair, and the quality holds up through all your Hobbit parties or journeys into the west.”  Another clothing site option you may want to check out comes from Mithril: Her Universe, which has a new line of Middle-earth fashion.  “Their clothes have great details and are always high quality and comfy to wear. Check out this Fellowship Cardigan. With both front and back filled with LotR graphics, it would be great for cozying up by the hearth in style.”

Her Universe Galadriel dress

12. Rounding out our “Durin’s Dozen” in this Holiday treasure trove is a unique gift spotted by one of our OneRing founders, Calisuri: a set of four pewter shot glasses each attired as one of our favorite hobbits!  From Nemesis Now, and available from a number of sources, including Walmart and Amazon, the glasses come in an attractive gift box. And while they won’t hold a full pint, you still might consider getting one!

13. Ok fine. How about a “Barliman’s Dozen” then. We’ll add one more bonus entry to this year’s list, particularly fit for any fan with knitting needle facility: The Fellowship of the Knits book. Who couldn’t use a handy set of “Watchful Eye” mittens this winter? Or a “You Shawl Not Pass”? Thanks again to Mithril for the suggestion – it might be worth learning to knit!

We’re just skimming the surface, folks. You can also check out an array of additional options for the Silmarillion-smitten loved ones in your life, from next year’s classic Tolkien calendars to art prints by TORn’s good friends Jay Johnstone, Donato Giancola, Justin Gerard, Jerry Vandersteldt, Jenny Dolfen, and the CaveGeek. The Shire Post Mint has a whimsical collection of coins from all across Middle-earth, and the Hero’s Armory is your source for some very stylish Middle-earth fashion, from socks to neckties to cufflinks and tie clips. You may just want to soak in the bath with a rubber duck version of your favorite LotR hero (or villain) from TUBBZ. Our friends at Sideshow and Asmus boast some terrific Middle-earth offerings, and you can even find some versions for your littlest Tolkien fans-in-training from the Fisher-Price Little People Collection. Or why not launch out into the artist and maker world of Etsy – who knows what you might discover? Maybe a set of silverware with engraved LotR quotes? Or a One Fire Ring to Rule them All?

Happy hunting, and happiest of holidays from all your friends at TheOneRing.net!

Weta Workshop will be hosting an exclusive screening of “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” in Auckland on December 5 as part of its celebration of the 20th anniversary of the film’s release.

Co-fouders Richard Taylor and Tania Rodger will be there to offer live alternative commentary and behind-the-scenes tales. There are also a limited number of VIP tickets for a 45-minute pre-movie Q&A session with the pair. The screening will be at Level 5, 88 Federal St (opposite the Auckland SkyTower).

Apparently tickets are already selling fast despite the slightly eye-watering $NZ 109 price so if this is your thing maybe best to not delay. You can pick up yours on the Weta Worshop site.

UPDATE: some readers asked us whether the screning is of the theatrical release or the extended edition. We reached out to find out and Weta tells us that they are screning the theatrical release so that there is more time for people to enjoy festivities before the movie begins. Also there’s only a few tickets left for the VIP Q&A. Best hurry if you want one of those.