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January 21, 2001 - February 05, 2001

2-05-01 Latest News

"Searching for the Hobbit" announces changes
Tehanu @ 3:32 am EST

There’s been some new developments at the Assassin Films website Searching for the Hobbit. For a start, the website is now offering free access to everything including the ‘making of’ documentary downloads. Producer Mark Morgan said “At the moment because of the hype surrounding the LOTR films and all the upcoming merchandising, we felt that we did not want to be seen as yet another commercial entity capitalising on the author’s works. We have therefore made the site free so everybody has the opportunity to take part in and view the documentary in progress.”

Regular visitors to the site will remember that ”Searching for the Hobbit” is a documentary being made to celebrate the world of Tolkien fandom and Hobbit culture worldwide. Visitors to the site have the chance to download clips from interviews that the ‘Hobbit’ team have conducted with an ever-growing range of people whose lives and work have been influenced by JRRT.

This is such a huge subject to cover that they have decided to make another change to the website. What used to be the Inspiration Room has been renamed the Gallery and focuses on ‘Rings’-inspired artwork. A new Inspiration Room will be set up where visitors are invited to share their personal (and true!) stories with other Tolkien fans. Morgan hopes that people will talk about their own Search for the Hobbit. “When did you last visit Middle-earth?” he asks. So far this question has produced some beautiful stories from all kinds of people.

The very best stories might form the basis for further interviews when the ‘Search for the Hobbit’ continues.

Please post all stories to webmaster@assassinfilms.com

2-02-01 Latest News

Andy Serkis Talks LOTR
Xoanon @ 2:22 pm EST

Film Effects with a Human Face

Growing up in Rulsilp Manor, Andy Serkis always wanted to be in theatre, but saw his future behind the scenes. But after catching the acting bug at university and adding a string of key roles to his credit, he now plays arch fiend Gollum in next winter's much-heralded film of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. Alan Hayes talked to him.

Actor Andy Serkis has a peach of a role in the film they said could never be made.

As Gollum in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the rings, Mr Serkis, who grew up in Rulsilp Manor, has spent the last six months in New Zealand, 'halfway up volcanoes, in glacial streams and marshes', as well as in a special studio, creating the sort of effects that have finally made JRR Tolkien's epic possible.

Shooting all three parts of the story simultaneously, Kiwi director Mr Jackson and his compatriot special-effects whizz-kids has wrestled the tale of sword, sorcery, fantastic creatures and little Hobbits to near completion, and part one is due on screen in December (a cartoon version of the early 1980's fizzled after only one book had been animated).

Mr. Serkis will be back down under this summer for three months of post-production work, finishing the special effects which have made it all possible.

But the film doesn't sublimate all acting talent in favor of technical wizardry.

"They were looking for someone who was capable of doing a creature voice but portray him as human as well," says the 36 year old actor about Gollum, the boy who kills for, then becomes utterly corrupted by, one of the fabled, lost rings.

"I think the great thing about Gollum is he is the point of human contact or what the ring does to you," said Mr Serkis, who having just returned from New Zealand and paid a flying visit to his parents. Lylie and Clement at their Westhone Gardens home, was in Manchester this week working on a new film.

On the theme of Gollum he continues: "He's very much a case of" 'There but for the grace of God."

He ads that with the need to give cinema audiences the ability to relate the creature to something recognizable, he has played him as an addict, a 'ring junkie'. complete with withdrawal symptoms.

"When you are playing such an extreme character, you have to root it in something the audience can identify with," he said.

Mr Serkis confessed he had not read The Lord of the Rings before being offered the part, although Tolikien's other Middle Earth tale, The Hobbit, was a childhood favorite.

To get into Gollim's head, he said he read and re-read certain passages and found it 'fantastic stuff'

During the course of the film, he must transform from Smeagol, the boy who killed his cousin for possession of the ring, into the reptilian Gollim, with his sobbing, hissing language as he talks to himself and the ring, his later ego which he calls 'his precious'.

Much of the special effects use 'motion capture', a technique which required Mr Serkis to wear a special suit covered in reflective dots, tracked by a computer-driven camera.

The animation can then be overlaid, so the actor realistically drives the character's movements, even if the final appearance is part computer graphics.

New Zealand is becoming a hot house of film special effects, not least due to costs being vastly lower than in Hollywood. Mr Serkis said the level of artisan skill and craftsmanship which produced the reams of costumes, armaments and equipment impressed him greatly and the scenery was perfect for portraying Middle Earth.

The film, he said, "was a real marriage between acting and animation, and they got the real cutting edge technology out there.

"As Peter Jackson said: 'The film should be made because now we have the technology," he recalls.

Six months in New Zealand wasn't all work. His partner, the actor Larraine Ashbourne, and their two children, Sonny and Ruby, were able to come out, and the family managed a holiday on the south Island.

The Lord of the Rings has been sandwiched between other films - Shiner, with Sir Michael Caine, penciled in for release in 2001, and his latest project, 24-hour Party People, but as an actor trained in repertory, he yearns to get back on stage.

However, the long-anticipated 'Rings' is special, for film-goers and film-makers alike.

"I do think it's going to be fantastic," said Mr Serkis, "and I very, very rarely say that about anything I do."

Thanks to Darrell for the tip!

Its Friday. How to be Unproductive at Work.
Calisuri @ 1:49 pm EST

Its been a long time since I brought you an episode of "How to be Unproductive at Work," so here goes!

• Why not check out some Tolkien based MUSH's? They are notorious for taking LOTS of time off your hands. [more]

• If you didn't already know, TheOneRing.net hosts the LARGEST image collection of Tolkien related Art in the world! Rolozo Tolkien has been known to take up hours of my day, why not give it a try! [more]

• In a VERY rare occurence, Margaret Weis, Don Perrin, and Chris Pierson of DragonLance fame, dropped by our very own Barlimans for a fireside chat with fans. The log is only about 20 pages long, that will definitely kill some time. [more]

• Why not start your journey into true Tolkien fandom by learning an elvish language or two? Ostadan from Green Books will be more then happen to help you along on this quest. [more]

• If you didn't realize already, Barlimans is a huge worldwide phemomenon of a chatroom. Catch up on your fellow fans and find out where they live in our Barlimans Regulars Map. [more]

Bruce Spence will be playing the Mouth of Sauron in the upcoming films. But what race of creature is the Mouth of Sauron? How tall was he? When did he die? Find out these facts and just about anything you could want to know about the characters of Middle-earth in our characters section. [more]

• And last but not least, where does all the money for banner ads and t-shirt sales at TheOneRing.net go? The answer is quite simple. TheOneRing.net sends it's profits to various charities worldwide. Why not take some time and support the charities we do! [more]

I hope that takes the necessary time out of your day to make this Friday, and every other work day, a lot less stressful!

Sideshow Toy & Weta Workshop Create Unique Partnership for New Line Cinema’s Lord of the Rings
Xoanon @ 1:42 pm EST


Contact: Diane Kamahele
Domestic Sales / Public Relation
Sideshow Toy

In what is surely one of the most creative theatrical licensing deals ever, Sideshow Toy of Westlake Village, CA has partnered with Weta Workshop of New Zealand to develop multiple lines of polystone collectibles based on the upcoming film trilogy, The Lord of the Rings. What makes this deal so unique is that it may be the first time a U.S. based toy company has partnered with the special effects company that created the effects for the licensed film property. The Sideshow / Weta collaboration will be responsible for the development and marketing of five lines of polystone collectibles: statues, busts, miniature weapons, miniature armor, & wall plaques.

The Lord of the Rings film trilogy is a New Line Cinema production and is based on the J.R.R Tolkien classic fantasy series of books. The films are currently in production in New Zealand with the first film; “The Fellowship of the Ring” slated for December 2001 release. Peter Jackson, a native New Zealander, whose credits include “Heavenly Creatures” and “The Frighteners”, is directing the trilogy. The international cast features Sir Ian McKellen, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Liv Tyler, and Elijah Wood.

The Sideshow / Weta partnership bring together two respected and talented organizations. Sideshow is the creative force responsible for the highly praised line of figures based on the Universal Studios Classic Monsters. The Sideshow team has been recognized for its ability to consistently achieve character likenesses in both collectible toys and statues. Weta is New Zealand’s foremost Effects facility, which was established fourteen years ago to support New Zealand’s fledgling film and television industry. Among Weta’s credits are several of Peter Jackson’s earlier films, and also television’s popular Xena and Hercules’ series. Weta is comprised of a group of artists united in their love of art and film – from blacksmiths to leatherworkers, skilled prosthetic technicians, miniature makers, painters to wigmakers, casting and molding experts, engineers and swordsmiths.

The Weta Workshop has been immersed for four years in the conceptualizing, creation and the on set operation of the creatures, miniatures, armor, weapons and special make-up effects for the three epic films. Weta’s focus has been to create a unified look throughout the three films while capturing the very essence of the books that are held so dear by millions of readers around the world.

It is the same Weta designers and technicians that have created the different armies and creatures within Middle Earth that have chosen to create the high quality collectibles under the Sideshow / Weta brand. The integrated experience that these designers and technicians have had in the creation of the films and their unique relationship with the actors and director will result in the most authentic figure and miniature collectibles possible. A preview of the upcoming collectibles can be seen by appointment at the International Toy Fair in New York from February 11 – 16, 2001. The figures, busts and miniatures will be on display at the Sideshow Toy show room in the Toy Building at 200 5th Ave., suite 1061.

© 2001 New Line Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
“The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of The Ring and the characters and the places therein, TM The Saul Zaentz Company d/b/a Tolkien Enterprises under license to New Line Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.”

1-29-01 Latest News

Weekly Cast Watch: Jan 29-Feb4
Xoanon @ 11:58 pm EST

Monday, January 29

Viggo Mortensenhttp://theonering.net/movie/cast/mortensen.html (Aragorn) The Portrait of a Lady SHOW3 & The Young Americans ENCACT
Liv Tyler (Arwen) Inventing the Abbotts KTVO
Ian Holm (Bilbo) eXistenZ TMC2
Hugo Weaving (Elrond) The Interview MYSTERY
David Wenham (Faramirhttp://www.theonering.net/movie/char/faramir.html) Dark City TNT
Ian McKellen (Gandalf) X-Men IN9
Bruce Spence (Mouth of Sauron) Dark City TNT
Christopher Lee (Saruman) Safari 3000 SHOWX
Bernard Hill (Theoden) William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream HBOSIG
Brad Dourif (Wormtongue) Urban Legend TMC & Color of Night HBOSIG & Amos & Andrew TMC2P

Tuesday, January 30

Liv Tyler (Arwen) Heavy SUNDAE
Ian Holm (Bilbo) Mary, Queen of Scots IFRC1
Elijah Wood (Frodo) The Faculty SHOWX
Cate Blanchett (Galadriel) An Ideal Husband STARZ5
Mark Ferguson (Gil Galad) Every Woman's Dream LIFE
John Rhys-Davies (Gimli) Au Pair MovieMax 5 UK & Secret of the Andes Sky Premier 3 UK & Cyborg Cop WSBK
Orlando Bloom (Legolas) Wilde SHOW3
Christopher Lee (Saruman) Talos the Mummy Sky MovieMax 5 UK & Scott of the Antarctic A&E

Wednesday, January 31

Liv Tyler (Arwen) That Thing You Do! VH1
Ian Holm (Bilbo) The Fifth Element RTE 1 UK & All Quiet on the Western Front ENCACT
Hugo Weaving (Elrond) The Matrix MAX & Babe 2: Pig in the City Sky Premier 3 UK
Miranda Otto (Eowyn) The Last Days of Chez Nous IFC
Elijah Wood (Frodo) Avalon STARZ & Internal Affairs WNDS
Ian McKellen (Gandalf) Gods and Monsters SUNDAE
John Rhys-Davies (Gimli) Secret of the Andes Sky Premier 3 UK & Waxwork USA
Andy Serkis (Gollum) Mojo Sky MovieMax 4 UK
Sean Astin (Sam) Icebreaker ACMAX & Dish Dogs KXTX & Toy Soldiers STARZ
Christopher Lee (Saruman) Five Golden Dragons XUPN2 & Bitter Victory ENCACT
Brad Dourif (Wormtongue) Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones TRUE

Thursday, February 1

Viggo Mortensenhttp://theonering.net/movie/cast/mortensen.html (Aragorn) The Thin Red Line ACMAX & Witness MOMAX
Sean Bean (Boromir) Ronin SHOWX
Miranda Otto (Eowyn) The Thin Red Line ACMAX & The Well Carlton Cinema UK
John Rhys-Davies (Gimli) The Living Daylights Network 2 UK
Bruce Spence (Mouth of Sauron) The Cars That Ate Paris Film Four UK
Christopher Lee (Saruman) The Gorgon Sky Cinema 1 UK
Bernard Hill (Theoden) Gandhi HBOSIG
Brad Dourif (Wormtongue) The Exorcist III STARZ

Friday, February 2

Liv Tyler (Arwen) Stealing Beauty BRAVO
Ian Holm (Bilbo) Alice Through the Looking Glass STARZ4
Andy Serkis (Gollum) Among Giants Sky Premier 1 UK
Sean Astin (Sam) Kimberly HBOZ
Christopher Lee (Saruman) Sleepy Hollow Front Row 2 UK & Return From Witch Mountain Sky Premier 1 UK & The Mummy AMC
Bernard Hill (Theoden) True Crime HBOPL
Brad Dourif (Wormtongue) Best Men THMAX & Eyes of Laura Mars Film Four UK

Saturday, February 3

Viggo Mortensenhttp://theonering.net/movie/cast/mortensen.html (Aragorn) Boiling Point ENCORE
Liv Tyler (Arwen) Armageddon Showing on Sky Premier 2 UK
Ian Holm (Bilbo) Legend BBC2 UK & Alien TVYou
John Rhys-Davies (Gimli) King Solomon's Mines WRGB
Sean Astin (Sam) Encino Man KSTW & The War of the Roses KDEB
Christopher Lee (Saruman) Sleepy Hollow Front Row 2 UK & The Accursed KVOS & Captain Horatio Hornblower TCM
Bernard Hill (Theoden) The Loss of Sexual Innocence HBOPL

Sunday, February 4

Viggo Mortensenhttp://theonering.net/movie/cast/mortensen.html (Aragorn) A Walk on the Moon STARZ5 & Young Guns II WEMT & Fresh Horses ENCORE
Ian Holm (Bilbo) Mary Shelley's Frankenstein Film Four UK & Dance With a Stranger FLIX & A Severed Head Sky Cinema 2 UK
Hugo Weaving (Elrond) Bedrooms & Hallways HBOSIG
Elijah Wood (Frodo) Flipper STARZ
Ian McKellen (Gandalf) Apt Pupil Sky Premier 3 UK & Jack & Sarah AMC
John Rhys-Davies (Gimli) Firewalker WTBSLOC
Andy Serkis (Gollum) Mojo Sky MovieMax 4 UK
Bruce Spence (Mouth of Sauron) Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome WJZY
Christopher Lee (Saruman) Sleepy Hollow Front Row 2 UK & An Eye for an Eye KTMD
Brad Dourif (Wormtongue) Alien Resurrection TV3 UK & Trauma SHOWB & Mississippi Burning WGNSAT

1-26-01 Latest News

They're searching for the Hobbit!
Tehanu @ 10:08 pm EST

The Assassinfilms 'Hobbit' site is fully operational now, and there's plenty to look at. There's a lot of Tolkien-inspired websites out there, but this is one of the most creative ones. Instead of repeating what so many other sites have done, they've taken an interest in who Tolkien fans are and what 'Tolkien culture' is. They ask the question 'Who is the Hobbit' and talk to all kinds of people about the influence Tolkien's had in their lives. In the case of bands like Glass Hammer, that's a big influence!

It's a very stylish site, visually appealing and with clever things on it like the 'Matrix' reference in the opening disclaimer.

The website reports on and supports the 'Searching for the Hobbit' documentary that they're making, and there's plenty to do on it - they're inviting contributions to the 'inspirations' room immediately, and there's a competition. Mainly though the website lets you download clips of the 'Making of' which follows the adventures of the film crew as they interview Tolkien fans around the world.

In Depth Mike Deluca Interview
Xoanon @ 12:56 am EST

The folks at Fade In Magazine really went full tilt on this amazing interview with former head of production at New Line, Mike Deluca.

The interview was conducted in the summer it seems, months before Deluca and New Line parted ways, so the irony here is hard to ignore. Deluca talks about his youth and his many years with New Line, he speaks about his thoughts on today's Hollywood scene, and where he thinks it will go. He is equally frank about his success and failures in the movie biz. I think many of you will learn allot about this man by reading this 10 page interview.

I've spoken with Mike Deluca an several occasions, always via email, yet you still cannot miss the feeling that he's 'one of us'. He's the fanboy who sits in the movie theatre and gets excited by the flashing images he sees on the screen. He's a man sitting in a place reserved for stuffed suits and power ties, who answers fan emails from time to time, totally off the cuff.

I had the chance to wish him all the best when I heard the news about his departure from NL, and even among all the hoopla that surrounded that day, he wrote me back thanking me, this is one suit that will never get stuffed.

1-25-01 Latest News

Mckellen at Holocaust Memorial Day Event
Xoanon @ 8:56 pm EST

LONDON, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Britain"s Queen Elizabeth will not attend the country"s first Holocaust Memorial Day this weekend, further fuelling the debate over who should or should not attend the highly controversial event.

Buckingham Palace said on Thursday the Queen had turned down the invitation to Saturday"s memorial in London and would not interrupt an extended Christmas break. A palace source added that the monarch"s diary was planned months in advance, but that her son and heir to the throne Prince Charles would take time off from his private engagements in order to attend.

...Despite the debate, Prime Minister Tony Blair will lead politicians, church leaders and charity workers at the ceremony, which will be broadcast live on television and radio. Also attending will be Britain"s Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, actor Ian McKellen and rock star Bob Geldof.

Merchandising for Kids
Xoanon @ 8:50 pm EST

From: StocDred

I found a LOTR article that you might not have access to... it's in a great monthly magazine called Kidscreen. Kidscreen focuses on "reaching children through entertainment," and always features articles/news about kids broadcasting, software, movies, toys, properties and other products. It's not available at newstands; I get the magazine because I work for a FOX TV affiliate. In the January 2001 issue, they have a multi-page article about the upcoming merchandising for the LOTR movies (and Star Wars, incidentally). Although there isn't a great deal of specifics, here's some tidbits I pulled out:

- nice list of signed licensees; some of which I knew about, some I didn't (Toy Biz, EA, Topps, Decipher, Playmates, Applause)

- the three films will all be PG-13, but much of the merchandise is aimed at kids 7 and up

- DVD/video release will be 6 months after the movie opens

- action figures could be in stores as early as July; most merch will be out a month before movie opens

I've attached scans of the complete article so you can see for yourself.

1-22-01 Latest News

Live, Consume, Die.
Tehanu @ 4:53 pm EST

Somebody wrote recently to complain that 'all the reporters ever talk about in relation to LOTR is the money.'

Articles like the following, from digitrends.net make me sympathise with him. According to this we're all 'Consumers' and things like 'The Lord of the Rings' are just 'Properties.' (I'm still not sure if that's more or less insulting than referring to books and music etc as 'Product') .

"RealNetworks Helps Launch Tolkein Film [sic]

"New Line Cinema's "Lord of the Rings" film trilogy is one of the most greatly anticipated film series of the new millennium. The studio is shooting all three installments concurrently and will release one a year through 2003. And with a little less than a year before the first film hits theaters, the marketing push is already underway. New Line and RealNetworks have formed a four-year partnership to jointly promote the movies. The two companies will create and promote the Lord of the Rings RealChannel as the exclusive online source for all material from the making of the three films. Through the month of January, the Lord of the Rings trailer will be available only via the RealPlayer and the Lord of the Rings RealChannel.

"The Lord of the Rings RealChannel will set a promotional benchmark that is unparalleled and marks the most significant entertainment Internet promotion to date," says Gordon Paddison, senior vice president, Worldwide Marketing and Business Development, New Line Cinema. "In addition to establishing an ongoing relationship with the broad fan base for the Trilogy, this promotion with RealNetworks is in line with our strategic marketing objectives to expand our Internet marketing reach to include hundreds of millions of consumers who currently may not have any exposure to the property."

1-21-01 Latest News

Weekly Cast Watch: Jan 21-27
Xoanon @ 3:26 pm EST

Sunday, January 21

Liv Tyler (Arwen) Armageddon Sky Premier Widescreen UK
Christopher Lee (Saruman) Talos the Mummy Sky MovieMax 4 UK

Monday, January 22

Christopher Lee (Saruman) Dracula Has Risen From The Grave Sky Cinema 1 UK
Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn) A Walk on the Moon TMN

Tuesday, January 23

Ian Holm (Bilbo) Night Falls On Manhattan Channel 4 UK & Alien Network 2 UK
Ian McKellen (Gandalf) X-Men TVND18
John Rhys-Davies (Gimli) Among Giants Sky Premier Widescreen UK
Sean Astin (Sam) Bulworth Sky Premier 4 UK
Brad Dourif (Wormtongue) Bride of Chucky Sky MovieMax 4 UK

Wednesday, January 24

Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn) Psycho Sky Premier Widescreen UK & Two Small Bodies SUNDAEP The Young Americans ENCACT
Ian Holm (Bilbo) Naked Lunch Sky Cinema 1 UK
Sean Bean (Bilbo) Ronin TMC
Ian McKellen (Gandalf) Gods and Monsters SUNDAE
Sean Astin (Sam) Dish Dogs WLNY 55
Christopher Lee (Saruman) Talos the Mummy Sky MovieMax 4 UK & The Hound of The Baskervilles Channel 5 UK & Private's Progress SHOWDT
Bernard Hill (Theoden) True Crime HBOLAT & William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream HBOSIG
Brad Dourif (Wormtongue) Urban Legend TMC & Death Machine KTXH & Amos & Andrew TMC2P
John Rhys-Davies (Gimli) Canvas TMN

Thursday, January 25

Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn) The Thin Red Line MAX
Liv Tyler (Arwen) Can't Hardly Wait WAPA & Inventing the Abbotts KRRT & Heavy SUNDAE
Ian Holm (Bilbo) eXistenZ TMC & Naked Lunch UK
Hugo Weaving (Elrond) The Matrix ACMAX
Miranda Otto (Eowyn) The Thin Red Line MAX
Cate Blanchett (Galadriel) An Ideal Husband STARZ5 & Oscar and Lucinda FMC
Ian McKellen (Gandalf) Apt Pupil Sky Premier 2 UK & Amy Foster Sky Premier 2 UK
Orlando Bloom (Legolas) Wilde SHOW3
Bruce Spence (Mouth of Sauron) Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome WFVT
Sean Astin (Sam) Icebreaker ACMAX & Toy Soldiers THMAX
Christoher Lee (Saruman) Sleepy Hollow SHOW & The Last Unicorn STARZ4 & Julius Caesar KSTC
Bernard Hill (Theoden) Mountains of the Moon TRUE
Brad Dourif (Wormtongue) Hidden Agenda TMC2 Bride of Chucky TMN

Friday, January 26

Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn) The Passion of Darkly Noon SHOW2 & Floundering COMEDY
Ian Holm (Bilbo) Henry V IFC & Shout at the Devil FLIX
Hugo Weaving (Elrond) Bedrooms & Hallways HBOZ
Elijah Wood (Frodo) The Good Son FX
Cate Blanchett (Galadriel) Elizabeth SHOW3
Ian McKellen (Gandalf) Restoration ENCORE
Sean Astin (Sam) Staying Together TNTI
Christopher Lee (Saruman) Safari 3000 SHOWX
Brad Dourif (Wormtongue) The Exorcist III FMC & Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones TRUE

Satday, January 27

Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn) Albino Alligator STARZ5 & Young Guns II WKCF & Witness MAXS
Liv Tyler (Arwen) Stealing Beauty WE
Ian Holm (Biblo) Alien TVYou UK
Miranda Otto (Eowyn) The Jack Bull Sky Premier 2 UK
Elijah Wood (Frodo) Avalon STARZ
Ian McKellen (Gandalf) Alfred the Great TCM UK
John Rhys-Davies (Gimli) Cyborg Cop KCOP & Firewalker TBS & King Solomon's Mines WZUP
Sean Astin (Sam) Courage Under Fire WABC 7 & Teresa's Tattoo KMAX & Rudy TNT & Encino Man WVFX
Christopher Lee (Saruman) Gremlins 2: The New Batch TNTL & Captain Horatio Hornblower KTRV Scott of the Antarctic HCI
Bernard Hill (Theoden) The Ghost and the Darkness WNBC 4
Brad Dourif (Wormtongue) Bride of Chucky Sky MovieMax 1 UK & Body Parts HBOPL & Child's Play 3 SCIFI

Teaser Trailer and the War against Realplayer.
Tehanu @ 4:52 am EST

Much as we've enjoyed the spoof trailers that people have sent in, there's no denying that the bulk of our mail has been concerned with the trailer that's appeared on the official site in Realplayer. Most people disliked the small videoclip interviews in Realplayer which we were treated to when the official site revamped, but that's nothing compared to the venom that's been reserved for the decision to put the trailer onto Realplayer.

I'm just saying that for the benefit of anyone like myself that thought they might have been suffering from a dodgy connection or some embarrassing mysterious personal problem to do with their own computer. Rest assured, it's not you. The trailer in Realplayer format looks bad for most people - a jerky, low-resolution image and horrible sound.

This has stirred people up into problem-solving mode and by now there are a whole lot of different attempts to download the trailer and convert it into different formats. Some have succeeded, some have succeeded and been forced by the long arm of the law to remove their efforts, and some don't work or got overwhelmed with people trying to download them. Interesting times on the Net indeed. Don't all email us to ask 'where are these trailers?' because I'm too lazy to sort through that much mail. There's a lot of pointers on the message-board that'll take you in the right direction.

Now, why has this thing happened? Here's an answer from Value Ape: (Note some language may offend, but it's nothing to what we've heard describing Realplayer in general.)

"Just thought I would send you this email about the sordid side of why companies choose to use what technologies to serve video. I always see a lot of people bitching about what technology gets used, especially in regards to QuickTime - the whole LOTR trailer thing is the final coffin nail, so I thought I would expose this. Not only am I in the business but I do have some specific knowledge of the reason why LOTR is using RealMedia and not QuickTime. Let me just say that QuickTime is a superior format in every way to Real, however Real has been a much more aggressive company than Apple in pushing the technology. I, like Harry, have been a sober evangelist of QuickTime for quite some time and think people should know what goes on behind the scenes. Apple wants everyone to have QuickTime so you use and buy the software that makes QuickTime media. Real wants to milk eyeballs for ad clicks and trick you into buying the plus player. If you have ever tried to download the free player from their site you will laugh at how hidden the link to the 'free' player is in the interface. Like many reprehensible practices, it is effective. It also frustrates websites that use it. Imagine promoting your movie and when the player launches, you see an ad for another movie opening the same night on the side-bar!

Unfortunately, New Line's arrangement with Real is completely typical and not exceptional in any way other than the popularity of LOTR. The number of downloads garnered by the teaser at Apple had Real drooling. Real agreed to pay New Line in cash, services and bandwidth to host the new trailer. Apple, who has been very cautious about spending money lately, has always been reluctant to pay companies to use QuickTime when they felt that companies would naturally choose to use the better technology. Real hopes to spread its player and its channels around by having the new trailer - and New Line gets a little coin. Your typical day in the media industry."

Thanks for that.

There is another side to consider: we've all acted as though we had the right to demand this teaser trailer at high quality because we the fans want it. I'm not sure that's in the best interests of the film company, who after all wants you to be disappointed with the net version of the trailer so you'll go to the cinema. I find that hard to blame. I mean, I was annoyed with the cruddiness of the trailer on Real (and suffered from an 'Emperor's New Clothes' moment wondering if it was just me) but by now I can see that the filmmakers aren't so sure they're going to benefit by doing what pleases us.

I'm also aware (who better?) of how it's possible to become so saturated with Tolkien images that the thought of going and seeing the movies loses its appeal. The availability of information for 'Phantom Menace' posed that very danger. It started by whetting the appetite and ended by overwhelming it by the time I'd got into the cinema. Funny thing for us on this website to be arguing, but there you are, I'm not going to back down from telling it the way I see it.

If all I see of the LOTR films before they open are crummy grainy videos like this then the film company will have achieved something they're entitled to aim for - I'll be ready to crawl across broken glass to see them on the big screen.

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