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October 27, 2002 - November 04, 2002

11-04-02 Latest News

More On Seattle LOTR:TTT Premiere!
leo @ 6:43 pm EST

We posted about this earlier this week but here's a follow up about the Seattle Premiere of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. If you have got the money and are in the area you might wanna check it out...

New Line Cinema to Present Northwest Premiere of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers to Benefit The Cascades Conservation Partnership

LOS ANGELES, CA---New Line Cinema today announced that it will present the Northwest Premiere of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers in Seattle on Monday, December 16, 2002 as a special benefit screening for The Cascades Conservation Partnership, a Seattle-based environmental non-profit campaign to purchase and protect threatened forestland in the Central Cascades of Washington State. The film opens nationwide on Wednesday, December 18.

The Premiere will be held at the magnificent Cinerama Theater in downtown Seattle, which has been generously donated to the Partnership for the occasion by Vulcan Inc. Members of the event's Host Committee include Governor Gary Locke, Mayor Greg Nickels, Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard, and prominent environmentalists Denis Hayes and Paul Brainerd.

Tickets for the event are $500, which includes admission to the pre-screening party, preferred seating at the screening, parking, and special gifts, and $250, which includes admission to the screening and special gifts. Tickets will go on sale at 8 AM on Monday, November 4, 2002, and will be available online at www.cascadespartners.org/lor or over the phone at (206) 675-9747, ext. 256.

Midwestern Two Towers Premiere Party!
leo @ 10:12 am EST

Do you live in Illinois, Indiana, or any of those other states clustered in the middle of the U.S.? Do you want to see The Two Towers on opening night, surrounded by other Tolkien fans, without standing in any freezing cold line, with fun stuff like a costume contest and prizes sponsored by TheOneRing.net and others? Then this is for you!

Anwyn again invites all Midwestern Ringers (and anybody else who wants to make the trip!) to the Lorraine Theater in Hoopeston, IL, for a night of Tolkien camaraderie. You can get all the details at http://userweb.springnet1.com/cmcnew/.

In a nutshell, here’s the deal:

- The Lorraine Theater is a terrific old movie palace with an enormous screen, state-of-the-art sound, and online ticketing with reserved seats.
- Showtime is 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, December 18. The costume contest begins at 6:00 p.m.
- Other activities will include book readings, Tolkien art slides, the Towers soundtrack CD playing over the sound system before the show, and an informal gathering at a bar & grill down the street from the theater to discuss the movie afterwards.

Check out the details page for all the information! Hope to see you there!

-- Anwyn

Saruman and Wormtongue To Team In RoTK?
Demosthenes @ 5:37 am EST

Christopher Lee seems to have revealed that he will be in both the Two Towers and the Return of the King.

Speculation has been rampant for months that his character Saruman would be killed off toward the end of The Two Towers, possibly in some sort of "Spiked Wheel" incident.

However, in an article just recently published on the Official Christopher Lee Website, Lee made this statement:

"The only thing that is sure is that I will be in both of the next two Lord of the Rings movies, and I am considering three of four other interesting roles."

He made the comments while speaking from Vienna about being upset at being linked with the role of Dumbledore so soon after Harris death. You can read his entire statement here.

What makes this all the more interesting is the fact that in a recent interview with Fantasy Worlds magazine, it was written that Brad Dourif has signed on to portray Grima Wormtongue in both the Two Towers and the Return of the King. You can read that interview here.

11-03-02 Latest News

Weekly Cast Watch
Xoanon @ 10:41 pm EST

To get more information, use the sites I use like the ones below. Simply find a movie or actor you want to see, go to one of the sites below and see if the film is playing in your area. mydigiguide.com, tv-now.com and IMDB.com

Note: These are films that are listed as being on TV THIS WEEK ONLY, this is NOT a list of all the films the cast has done

Cast List

  1. Viggo Mortensen

  2. Liv Tyler

  3. Ian Holm

  4. Sean Bean

  5. Ian Mune

  6. Martyn Sanderson

  7. David Weatherley

  8. Marton Csokas

  9. Taea Hartwell

  10. John Noble

  11. Alexandra Astin

  12. Peter McKenzie

  13. Hugo Weaving

  14. Karl Urban

  15. Miranda Otto

  16. Noel Appleby

  17. David Wenham

  18. Cameron Rhodes

  19. Elijah Wood

  20. Cate Blanchett

  21. Bruce Hopkins

  22. Ian McKellen

  23. Mark Ferguson

  24. John Rhys-Davies

  25. Andy Serkis

  26. Stephen Ure

  27. Craig Parker

  28. John Leigh

  29. Timothy Bartlett

  30. Harry Sinclair

  31. Orlando Bloom

  32. Lawrence Makoare

  33. Robbie Magasiva

  34. Ray Henwood

  35. Dominic Monaghan

  36. Robyn Malcolm

  37. Bruce Spence

  38. Megan Edwards

  39. Billy Boyd

  40. Sarah McLeod

  41. Sean Astin

  42. Christopher Lee

  43. Sala Baker

  44. Brian Sergent

  45. Bernard Hill

  46. Nathaniel Lees

  47. Brad Dourif

  48. Howard Shore

  49. Jim Rygiel

  50. Peter Jackson

Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn)

28 Days (2000)
Albino Alligator (1996)
Daylight (1996)
Prophecy, The (1995)
Crimson Tide (1995)
American Yakuza (1994)
Crew, The (1994)
Ruby Cairo (1993)
Boiling Point (1993)
Young Guns II (1990)
Purple Rose of Cairo, The (1985)
Witness (1985)

Click here to visit the TORN cast page

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Liv Tyler (Arwen)

One Night at McCool's (2001)
Dr. T & the Women (2000)
Plunkett & Macleane (1999)
U Turn (1997)

Click here to visit the TORN cast page

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Ian Holm (Bilbo)

Bless the Child (2000)
Joe Gould's Secret (2000)
Last of the Blonde Bombshells, The (2000) (TV)
Shergar (1999)
Match, The (1999)
Fifth Element, The (1997)
Big Night (1996)
Madness of King George, The (1994)
Brazil (1985)
Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984)
Chariots of Fire (1981)
Juggernaut (1974)
Mary, Queen of Scots (1971)
Fixer, The (1968)

Click here to visit the TORN cast page

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Sean Bean (Boromir)

Don't Say a Word (2001)

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Ian Mune (Bounder)

Piano, The (1993)

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Martyn Sanderson (Bree Gatekeeper)

Ned Kelly (1970)

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David Weatherly (Barliman Butterbur)

No listings this week

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Marton Csokas (Celeborn)

Monkey's Mask, The (2000)

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Taea Hartwell (Child Hobbit)

No listings this week

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John Noble (Denethor)

Superfire (2002) (TV)
Virtual Nightmare (2000)
Monkey's Mask, The (2000)
Airtight (1999) (TV)

Click here to visit the TORN cast page

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Alexandra Astin (Elanor Gamgee)

No listings this week

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Peter McKenzie (Elendil)

No listings this week

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Hugo Weaving (Elrond)

Strange Planet (1999)
Matrix, The (1999)
Babe: Pig in the City (1998)

Click here to visit the TORN cast page

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Karl Urban (Eomer)

Price of Milk, The (2000)

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Miranda Otto (Eowyn)

What Lies Beneath (2000)
Jack Bull, The (1999) (TV)

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Noel Appleby (Everard Proudfoot)

No listings this week

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David Wenham (Faramir)

Moulin Rouge! (2001)

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Cameron Rhodes (Farmer Maggot)

No listings this week

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Elijah Wood (Frodo)

Good Son, The (1993)
Radio Flyer (1992)
Avalon (1990)
Internal Affairs (1990)

Click here to visit the TORN cast page

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Cate Blanchett (Galadriel)

Man Who Cried, The (2000)
Gift, The (2000)
Talented Mr. Ripley, The (1999)
Thank God He Met Lizzie (1997)

Click here to visit the TORN cast page

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Bruce Hopkins (Gamling)

No listings this week

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Ian McKellen (Gandalf)

X-Men (2000)
Apt Pupil (1998)
Bent (1997)
Rasputin (1996) (TV)
Shadow, The (1994)
Ballad of Little Jo, The (1993)

Click here to visit the TORN cast page

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Mark Ferguson (Gil-Galad)

No listings this week

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John Rhhys-Davies (Gimli)

Scorcher (2002)
Au Pair (1999) (TV)
Protector, The (1997/I)
Great White Hype, The (1996)
Stargate (1994)
Perry Mason: The Case of the Fatal Framing (1992) (TV)
Canvas (1992)
Secret Weapon (1990) (TV)
Perry Mason: The Case of the Murdered Madam (1987) (TV)
Firewalker (1986)
Victor/Victoria (1982)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Click here to visit the TORN cast page

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Andy Serkis (Gollum)

Pandaemonium (2000)
Among Giants (1998)
Career Girls (1997)

Click here to visit the TORN cast page

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Stephen Ure (Gorbag)

No listings this week

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Craig Parker (Haldir)

No listings this week

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John Leigh (Hama)

Atomic Twister (2002) (TV)

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Timothy Bartlett (Hobbit)

No listings this week

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Harry Sinclair (Isildur)

Price of Milk, The (2000)
Heavenly Creatures (1994)

Click here to visit the TORN cast page

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Orlando Bloom (Legolas)

Black Hawk Down (2001)
Wilde (1997)

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Lawrence Makoare (Lurtz)

No listings this week

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Robbie Magasiva (Mahur)

No listings this week

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Ray Henwood (Man from Rivendell)

Heavenly Creatures (1994)

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Dominic Monaghan (Merry)

Hostile Waters (1997) (TV)

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Robyn Malcolm (Morwen)

No listings this week

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Bruce Spence (Mouth of Sauron)

Queen of the Damned (2002)
Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (1995)
Rikky and Pete (1988)

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Megan Edwards (Mrs. Proudfoot)

No listings this week

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Billy Boyd (Pippin)

Urban Ghost Story (1998)

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Sarah McLeod (Rosie Cotton)

No listings this week

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Sean Astin (Sam Gamgee)

Sky Is Falling, The (2000)
Last Producer, The (2000)
Deterrence (1999)
Icebreaker (1999)
Dish Dogs (1998) (V)
Bulworth (1998)
Courage Under Fire (1996)
Harrison Bergeron (1995) (TV)
Encino Man (1992)
White Water Summer (1987)

Click here to visit the TORN cast page

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Christopher Lee (Saruman)

Sleepy Hollow (1999)
Feast at Midnight, A (1994)
Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)
Return of the Musketeers, The (1989)
Howling II (1985)
Man with the Golden Gun, The (1974)
Four Musketeers, The (1974)
Three Musketeers, The (1973)
Julius Caesar (1970)
Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968)
Hound of the Baskervilles, The (1959)
Prelude to Fame (1950)

Click here to visit the TORN cast page

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Sala Baker (Sauron)

No listings this week

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Brian Sergent (Ted Sandyman)

No listings this week

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Bernard Hill (Theoden)

Scorpion King, The (2002)
Going Off Big Time (2000)
Shirley Valentine (1989)

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Nathaniel Lees (Ugluk

No listings this week

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Brad Dourif (Grima Wormtounge)

Prophecy 3: The Ascent, The (2000) (V)
Shadow Hours (2000)
Ghost, The (2000)
Death Machine (1995)
Color of Night (1994)
Amos & Andrew (1993)
Critters 4 (1991) (V)
Child's Play 3 (1991)
Exorcist III, The (1990)
Child's Play 2 (1990)
Mississippi Burning (1988)
Dune (1984)
Ragtime (1981)
W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings (1975)

Click here to visit the TORN cast page

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Howard Shore (Composer)

Panic Room (2002)
High Fidelity (2000)
Cell, The (2000)
Yards, The (2000)
Game, The (1997)
Truth About Cats & Dogs, The (1996)
Before and After (1996)
White Man's Burden (1995)
Ed Wood (1994)
Sliver (1993)
Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
M. Butterfly (1993)
Silence of the Lambs, The (1991)
She-Devil (1989)
Big (1988)
Fire with Fire (1986)
Fly, The (1986)
After Hours (1985)
Videodrome (1983)
Scanners (1981)

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Jim Rygiel (SFX)

102 Dalmatians (2000)
Multiplicity (1996)
Outbreak (1995)
Species (1995)
Scout, The (1994)
Last of the Mohicans, The (1992)
Batman Returns (1992)
Ghost (1990)
2010 (1984)
Last Starfighter, The (1984)

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Peter Jackson

Heavenly Creatures (1994)

Click here to visit his official site

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Wellington Premeire Events Schedule
Demosthenes @ 9:56 pm EST

Ringer Fan CunningVixen went to work and asked the events people at Totally Wellington exactly what sort of alternate schedule they had in mind. Lindy Wilson, the Events Manager for Totally Wellington had this to say:

"Confirmation of the celebrations to be held on the night of the premiere have only just been released so these details are now in the process of being loaded onto our website. Refer below for the address. Please check this on a regular basis as it will be updated as further information comes to hand.

Just for your information, celebrations will begin in Courtenay Place from about 4:30pm onwards. There will be music and entertainment for those people gathering for the proposed red carpet walk commencing approximately 5:15pm.

A very special event, that shall remain secret until the actual time, will take place just prior to the stars and celebrities entering the Paramount Theatre for the screening at 6pm. I highly recommend that you be there to see it.

Unfortunately with the recent terrorist scare in Bali there will be no special celebrations planned for when the screening is finished but given all there is to do Wellington I have no doubt that the people gathered will certainly find somewhere and something that will enable them to continue celebrating this amazing event.

More information on the other things to see and do here in Wellington are also listed on the website."

For more information (and to keep up to date), head to Totally Wellington.

Media Watch: Famous Magazine
Xoanon @ 9:52 pm EST

In the month of Harry Potter, Gandalf the White graces the cover of November's issue of 'Famous' magazine. Take a look at 2 nice interviews with Elijah Wood (Frodo) and Ian McKellen (Gandalf).

MediaWatch: Popular Science Dec 2002
Calisuri @ 8:30 pm EST

The December 2002 Edition of Popular Science Magazine has an article explaining the state-of-the-art software behind The Lord of the Rings, MASSIVE. Thanks to Ringer Chching for the scans:

Click for Larger VersionClick for Larger VersionClick for Larger Version
Click for Larger VersionClick for Larger VersionClick for Larger Version

Subscribe to Popular Science. [Click Here]

The Final Champion! -- DecipherCon Day Three
Quickbeam @ 1:21 pm EST

Greetings -- Quickbeam here.

Today was terrifically exciting. I was afraid there would be blood on the streets of Norfolk before it was all over.

Saturday, 2 November 2002, was the final day of struggle in the Lord of the Rings TCG World Championship, overseen by the DGMA (Decipher Gaming Management Authority). The youthful crowd filling the Chesapeake Convention Center had mutated into a throng of zealous fanatics, all rooting for their favorite player. What energy!

The world's finest went head-to-head -- like the great chess tournaments of yesteryear. Remember the Americans versus the Russians? When individual players became symbols of the Cold War struggle? Remember those days where newspapers spouted headlines of national pride played out on the chessboard?

Today it was England versus Canada. After seven hours, where the center tables in the main hall were blocked to resist the crowd of onlookers, only four remained. Three lads from Montreal and one lone Brit. Patrick Malboeuf (older brother of finalist David, whose card list we posted previously), Matthieu Brochu, and Dominic Gaudreault brought the red maple leaf to bear against Alex Tennet's Union Jack.

As the evening grew very late, the finalists struggled through three games apiece, in final elimination pairings. No time limit. Whoever got the best 2 out of 3 would advance. People stood atop neighboring tables trying to watch from a distance as the temperature continued to rise. This was the utmost in championship playing.

The final two: Matthieu Brochu and Alex Tennet.

These two moved over to a separate locked room, containing only one table and several video cameras. And the Judge, of course. The players were isolated -- no distractions, no crowds, staring across at each other in a final dead heat.

Everyone else moved over to an auditorium with a giant projection screen. It was a very entertaining yakkity-yak crowd; the lads around me would just not sit still. We were all glued to the screen, making blow-by-blow comments as the game unfolded. The most interesting thing was that both combatants played strong Isengard cultures for their Shadow side. That was the case for all participants throughout the Championships. Everyone LOVES using those fierce Uruk-hai with Saruman to boost them.

Best of three games would decide this. In the first, Alex bid very high burdens to start the game; forcing Matthieu to go first. That was a shock. That hardly ever happens. They moved through a fast early game. Later when Matthieu, as the Free People's player, moved to Site 9 for the win he was stormed by a spectacular assault of minions that Alex drew at the last minute. Alex threw down Saruman and several heavy Uruks (including a Tower Assassin) which would have destroyed poor Matt. But at the last second, the crowd around me stood up and screamed. Matt used Aragorn's game text to make him Defender +3, thus Aragorn was sacrificed to save Frodo. When the additional fierce skirmishes were assigned, Matt saved Frodo again with pump cards like Hobbit Stealth.

It was a stunning upset.

Game two was a longer exercise in holding your breath. Alex was about to move from Site 7, using all his Old Toby pipeweed and Aragorn's Pipe to heal up his battered Fellowship. It was not much help. He had no idea Matthieu was holding an arsenal of evil Uruks. Lurtz appeared but was quickly shot down by Aragorn and Legolas. This was almost as good as watching the Fellowship movie! Poor Alex had to stop at Site 8 -- he could not risk moving again for the victory at Site 9.

The crowd gasped again -- almost loud enough that the players could hear across the hall, through sealed doors! Matthieu made his move, giving Alex a mammoth amount of twilight pool to use. Problem was, Alex had used up all his minions from his deck. There was nothing left to stop Matt's determined Fellowship. At Site 8, Matthieu made easy work of a few Uruk-hai and skated forward to Site 9. It was a cakewalk simply because Alex had ripped through his deck and had nothing left to play.

The crowd I sat with shouted with a great cacophony of noise. It was that moment of victory that reminded me of the Angels winning the World Series just a week ago.

Both players were perfectly quiet, even calm, through this grueling contest. Everyone was impressed at the good gamesmanship that was on display here, after seeing such frayed nerves yesterday. Matthieu would take the $7,000 and the Chrysler.... while Alex as second place would take home a not-too-shabby $3,000. Beautiful One Ring replicas for everyone.

The hour struck 1:00AM and everyone was exhausted. The winners came over into the auditorium and were officially congratulated by the Decipher team. Alex spoke to the crowd and declared he would split his $3,000 prize with his partner who designed and playtested his deck, Mike Dalton. Top winner Matthieu also took questions from the audience. He said that at all times he was confident with the strength of his Fellowship cards. Using permanents like swords, possessions, and artifacts were not key to his strategy, even though conventional wisdom advocates such cards. Matt said he preferred simple strength boosters instead. Well, maybe a copy of Sting (of course).

Go to the official DGMA website [http://www.dgma.com/content/default.asp?id=183] and there you will find the complete card lists for all finalists and winners. Top of that page is Matthieu Brochu's winning deck for the first Lord of the Rings TCG World Championship. This deck is now officially the best in the whole wide world.

Now you can try it for yourself.

Much too hasty,


For the other reports in this Series:

DecipherCon Day One[click here]
DecipherCon Day Two[click here]
DecipherCon Day Four[click here]

11-02-02 Latest News

TTT Running Time Confirmed?
Demosthenes @ 4:40 pm EST

Back in August we reported that the current cut stood at 3 hours and 14 minuntes. Now Kevin writes that a private theater here in Austin, Texas has posted a running time for the Two Towers of 2 hours and 43 minutes.

Update: Aaron writes that Fandango also has 2 hours 43 minutes listed as the running time. [More]

Update2:FB however writes that according to the Norwegian Oslo Cinema, 2 hours 43 mins was the old running time and that 3 hours 10 minutes is what we should expect. Unfortunately, I'm not much chop at reading Norwegian, but you can see the numbers here.

Staale sent in this translation:

'You mentioned that you are no great hand at reading Norwegian. Well, here is my translation of the text.

"The supposed length for The Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers has until now been 2 hours 43 minutes. However, director Peter Jackson has found reason to add close to half an hour extra.

Early this summer Jackson and his staff went back to New Zealand to shoot some additional scenes for TTT. The postproduction on the new takes and the substantial special effects work have since been going on at full steam. The distributor SF Norway claims that the finished movie will probably be about 3 hours 10 minutes long. That is, 10 minutes longer than the Fellowship of the Ring."

Just for your information :)'

Thanks to Ur_Friendly_Hobbit_Baker who also sent in a rough translation for us.

More grist to the mill ... consider Jackson's recent words in Fangoria Magazine:

One thing The Two Towers will share with Fellowship is a running time of about three hours. "I have never had any edicts from the studio to cut anything," Jackson says.

"There was a pragmatism with the cutting of Fellowship, and even in a sense with The Two Towers. These are rare expensive movies, and you do want to get the biggest audience you can, and we thought we were taking enough of a risk with a three-hour film. We knew the studio was riding on it, and we knew they wanted something between two and two and a half hours, which would be much more commercially smart. They didn't force us to cut a two-and-a-half-hour film, though, and we felt ourselves that anything over three hours would be much more difficult to attract an audience to.

"We just couldn't afford for the box office of Fellowship to suffer because of the length," he continues. "No matter how good or enjoyable a film is, at three and a half hours you'd simply put people off. It's as simple as that. So our focus was on releasing a film that was under three hours. We worked very hard to get that cut, and The Two Towers has actually been the same. At one point, Two Towers was almost four hours long, and we've been working hard to get it under three. These are sensible cuts, though — it's not a case of the studio forcing the filmmaker. In this case, the filmmaker doesn't want to release a film over three hours, because it's not a smart thing to do with all this money at stake."

That's it. For what it's worth, my money is on two and three-quarter hours. Anyone running a tote?

High Drama at DecipherCon! -- Day Two
Quickbeam @ 3:43 pm EST

Greetings -- Quickbeam here.

Playing cards sounds like a fun, relaxing pastime. Yeah, right.

When you have this much money and such huge prizes at stake... you can bet things will get hairy. Today in Norfolk there were 95 finalists in the Lord of the Rings TCG World Championship who concluded their second day of competition. At the end, only sixteen were left. Getting that far was arduous for some of them.

When two particular players started to loudly disagree with each other, throwing their arms up in the air, the judges came over to restore order. One of these fellows, Mike Long, has a reputation in the world of tournament play. He used to be a leader on the Magic: The Gathering circuit but encountered controversy with allegations of shady playing. This kind of behavior might follow you around for years. Today he was in a critical match against Josh Cornwell-Mott, as both players were in the running for qualification for Day 3 (the Finals).

There were several heated outbursts, with Mike showing his nerves as things got down to the wire. There are all kinds of itchy little things players might do to cause his opponent to lose focus, to throw them off their game, if you will. Josh would have none of it. The whole match was covered with tension so thick you could slice it with a butter-knife. One judge stood rooted to the table to monitor the players through to game's end.

There was some talk throughout the Con about this -- namely that LOTR players as a community don't want competitive tournament play to deteriorate with the kind of stunts we saw today. That's not what this is all about; and it's certainly atypical of the environment that Decipher and the DGMA has created. These gaming event are totally comfortable and everyone enjoys themselves. But in this instance, I understand how intense these players feel about their game.

There was one fellow in particular who was unstoppable today. He won every single game (that means no losses, no ties, and no games called on time). I sat down to talk with the beast that is Efridge Engelhardt. Young yet very casual and self-composed, Efridge hails from Huntsville, Alabama. He is the player that your mother warned you about.

Quickbeam: So, Efridge, what brought you to the LOTR card game?

Efridge: I have played the Star Wars game for about a year or more until Decipher lost the license. I still play it but not as seriously. Then they started publishing the new LOTR game and I picked up on it pretty fast. I was okay at it, I just played it for fun first. Not competitively.

Q: How long have you been in the professional circuit?

E: This summer, I decided I wanted to play at the upcoming DecipherCon. So I started preparing and playing more competitively with my friends. My buddy Ben Lacey and I built a deck that was broken. It was unbeatable, for the most part... the chances of it losing where significantly less than anything I had seen. We took that deck, driving around to territory and state level championships in order to qualify for today -- Day Two of the World Championships. I won in Georgia -- we were pretty much all over Southeastern states.

Q: What kind of strategy is most appealing to you when you build a deck?

E: Good consistency. Uruk-hai are undoubtedly the most solid Shadow cards but Moria are more fun to play.

Q: Did your friend build the deck you used today?

E: Yes. His name is Andy McClure. It's really good. I had seen it in action and decided it was a "machine." I was going to play the Star Trek TCG tournament today but I know this game better and decided differently.

Q: Wow, what a fateful choice, especially with you being this much closer to the top prize. What would you tell a casual player to focus on, if he seeks to improve his game?

E: Balance. Work with the numbers. Just because you built a deck and it doesn't work 100% doesn't mean you should throw it out. You should work with it and improve it until you're comfortable with it. The player should stop daydreaming about what the "perfect scenario" would be for his cards. He should go for efficiency, because those ideal conditions for certain card combos will rarely happen the way you want them to.

Q: Is there any hope for the Sauron culture becoming really viable with the cards that are currently available (not including new TTT cards).

E: I think Sauron is competitive now. I have a friend who has a deck that works really well. There's only a few really good Sauron cards that I would bother with. Orc Bowmen, Under the Watching Eye, Hate. And of course Orc Ambushers.

Q: Where are you going to drive first if you win the Chrysler PT Cruiser and the $7,000?

E: Hooters!

What can I say to that? Their hot wings really are good, I admit, but I think I'd rather go to Disneyland.

So much more TTT coolness was revealed today! I had the chance to interview those great guys from Decipher RPG Studio in Los Angeles, Christian Moore and Owen Seyler. If you enjoyed the fantastic new LOTR Core Book that was released in August you can blame them. Role players have been able to recreate their own adventures in the Middle-earth setting with the introductory Fellowship of the Ring RPG (with the players going through the Mines of Moria) and now with the Core Book, nearly any possible scenario can be drafted. Now they've got something brand new to crow about. The Two Towers RPG is another introductory product that allows beginning players to experience Helm's Deep with a select group of four characters (Gandalf, Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas). We were all sitting at a large round table where Christian and Owen opened up the never-before-seen boxes, with new maps, dice, character sheets, and Guidebook. I had to ask about this cool new game:

Quickbeam: How long have you guys been working on this new game?

Owen: We've been working on this particular product for about 5 months, 6 if you include time for printing.

Q: What is the first thing that would turn on a new player with this game? Assuming there are some Tolkien fans out there who are not experienced gamers, what would be the first thing they would enjoy?

Christian: The chance to step into the world and actually be the characters. To experience it from the inside.

O: Right. If you were Gandalf what would you have done in the Mines? Made a different decision? In this product, at the dramatic conclusion of the scenario, the players face the invading forces of Saruman's Uruk-hai as they besiege the Hornburg. You would get to play each of the four characters leading a different faction of Rohan's forces to protect the keep. Rohirrim Infantry, Archers, and even Elven Archer reinforcements.

Q: Sounds like it's following the movie storyline which many fans consider apocryphal. We know that there aren't really any Lorien Elves at Helm's Deep, but the idea makes perfect tactical sense to me, personally.

C: The distinction to be made is that the beginner's level Adventure Game products are film-based only. While the actual full RPG you have with the Core Book (and subsequent products to come) are based more fully on the original books.

Q: I know there are Tolkien fans who don't fully speak the "gamer language." Does this new TTT Helm's Deep game really fall into the category of "difficult" for the non-experienced gamer?

O: I would say not at all.

C: The game is geared for ages 12 and up. And the rules in this new boxed set include a lot of hand-holding.

O: It makes learning the game rules a gradual process; the player learns quickly as the storyline progresses. The "Fast Player" Rules are only 4 pages long, and represents a quick distillation of everything that is in the scenario gamebook. A participant who plays the full scenario will learn different segments of the rules as they are introduced during play. The Character Sheets assist this process by explaining each character's abilities. Gandalf's Sheet explains his spells, his abilities, and some of background history (and dialogue) to encourage more creative role playing.

Q: The maps look really fantastic. What do you have to decide ahead of time, to produce a certain staging area for the action?

O: At points in the story where there are many physical episodes of action, like a battlefield, or a clearing, or an underground dwarf kingdom -- anything where the physical environment becomes more critical for the story, we look at that.

C: Yes, the story dictates that. In TTT we picked three encounters.

O: There's a field where the Three Hunters meet the Riders of Rohan for the first time. If the heroes were to happen to catch up with the Uruk-hai sooner than they did in the story, it could lead to a battle.

Q: So someone playing could actually alter the course of the War of the Ring, just by catching up to Merry and Pippin sooner and rescuing them?

O: Presumably, yes. That's what they are out to do at the beginning. These adventures don't always have to follow the book perfectly. It is a tricky thing for the designers to provide for complete open liberty with the story as the players progress, for there is also the need to think ahead and see how this gaming scenario will affect future events in The Return of the King. Our job is to try to give a "guiding hand" while ensuring the player feels his autonomy has not been restricted.

Q: Do you recommend this as a fun introduction to roleplaying in general? Meaning is it something that a gaggle of Tolkien fans can just open up and dive into at a party (or a hobbit picnic)?

C: That's precisely what it was designed for.

O: There are sections of the game where the Narrator and the players have scripted dialogue, yet the players can easily go off in various, unexpected directions depending on the tone of voice and the general flavor that each player brings to the table. Improvisation is key to making this game a lot more fun.

There you have it, folks. This new boxed game is very cool and I recommend you get a closer look at it.

That's today's report from DecipherCon 2002. A day that will be talked about for months to come among the world's gaming community. Tomorrow is the final showdown between the top sixteen players in the world.

I will be here for the final lap and also more interviews with the LOTR designers!

Much too hasty,


For the other reports in this Series:

DecipherCon Day One[click here]
DecipherCon Day Three[click here]
DecipherCon Day Four[click here]

Los Angeles TTT Preview Screening
Demosthenes @ 5:37 am EST

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art will be holding a preview screening event of the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers on Saturday December 14th.

Martha, who dropped us the tip with the news, says that there will also be a "conversation" with Howard Shore prior to the film.

The price for the movie is $7.25 for members and $10.75 for non-members. Martha is unsure if tickets are still available -- "these things have a tendency to sell out fast. You can either call 1-877-522-6225 or visit lacma.

I couldn't find anything on lacma, but there are more pricing details on museumtix.com. You can can check it out here.

11-01-02 Latest News

Fantasy Worlds Interviews!
Demosthenes @ 11:00 pm EST

Mythrandir writes:

I just picked up a Starlog related magazine called Fantasy Worlds.

There is also a five page interview with producer Barrie Osborne, a four page interview with John Rhys-Davies and a two page interview with Liv Tyler.

Here's a little spoiler regarding a possible Boromir flashback from Barrie Osborne:

"We toyed with doing a scene where you actually get to see Faramir, Boromir, and Denethor in a flashback, in which Faramir is thinking back to how he got into the situation he's now in. So there's a scene with Faramir, his brother and his father, and it's still in and out of the film. We're not sure if it's going to be in there or not." (Interview with Barrie Osborne, "Making the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers," page 41)

The people at Starlog said to keep an eye out for the next few Starlog magazines as they have interviewed some of the cast members.

This issue features articles on Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. There are one page interviews with Karl Urban, Miranda Otto, Brad Dourif, and Bernard Hill. Enjoy!

I was reading through these interviews and I spotted this comment by Brad Dourif:

"There's a scene between Wormtongue and Eowyn that we did ,[in which Wormtongue makes his romantic designs clear to her], and that's not in the book."

Now, it could just be that this picture of Grima and Eowyn that we revealed just yesterday is the scene Dourif refers to ...

More Opening Scene Evidence??
Demosthenes @ 7:30 pm EST

By now, you'll all have seen the track listing for the TTT soundtrack.

Track 1 is called "Foundation of Stone".

There's been some speculation about what this could imply. Now it's just possible that the title "Foudation of Stone", could refer to the battle between Gandalf and the Balrog.

Doubtful? Consider this excerpt from the Two Towers:

'Deep is the abyss that is spanned by Durin's Bridge, and none has measured it,' said Gimli.

'Yet it has a bottom, beyond light and knowledge,' said Gandalf. 'Thither I came at last, to the uttermost foundations of stone[my emphasis]. He was with me still. His fire was quenched, but now he was a thing of slime, stronger than a strangling snake.'

So, the BIG plunge at the beginning of TT should show Gandalf fighting the Balrog!

Nice way to open a film, eh?

Thanks to both Feasul and Chris for pointing this out!


Okay, a few people have written in to add variuous stuff. Some of this is not at all new, but for the sake of relative completeness here's a little bit more information ...

From Ringer spy Sam: Sir Ian's latest E-Post entry ...

"Q: I saw in the new TTT trailer that when you are falling with the Balrog, you are holding your sword. How can that be if you lost her (the sword had fall first) before you completely fall in the bridge? Many thanks and keep the great work. :)

A: You will be answered early in The Two Towers when Gandalf and his sword are reunited. "

This isn't entirely conclusive in and of itself. "Early" is an awfully vague word, and I'm sure Ian realises that.

Also, Mark from Texas writes: 'It's the first thought that hit me when I read that Fran used the term "plunge" when discussing the opening scene.'

This is from scr(i)pt magazine, of course. For those that might not have seen it before, I'll recount the excerpt here:

"scr(i)pt: Will there be anything to help a novice find his/her way into The Two Towers, some recap of what has happened so far, or will we plunge right into it?

Philippa Boyens: Pretty much a big plunge, you might say - a rather large plunge! [Both laugh as if sharing a wicked, private joke.] - the deep breath before the plunge. Well, it's a terrible pun; and you'll understand it when you see it, but I think it's one of the most amazing openings ever - pure Peter Jackson!"

There is certainly a rather large "plunge" before the two battling Maia reach the Foundations of Stone at the bottom of the abyss of Khazad-dum that Gandalf refers to in the Two Towers ... :o)

The Artists Behind The Two Towers Soundtrack
Strider @ 6:55 pm EST

One of the first things noticeable when glancing over the track list for The Two Towers soundtrack is the increase in artists lending their vocal talents to Howard Shore's tracks. While international star Enya eclipsed her colleagues on The Fellowship of the Ring soundtrack, particularly after the shambolic advertising campaign from Reprise Records, this time the star-status of the sopranos are much more evenly spread. Here's a look at some of these artists who'll tear at our heartstrings come December:

Emiliana Torrini: Track 19 - "Gollum's Theme"

In addition to her vivid imagination, a slightly nomadic childhood and a curious blend of ethnicities combined to inevitably launch 21 year-old singer Emiliana Torrini into the life less ordinary that she now calls her own. Raised in Iceland by an Icelandic mother and an Italian father, she spent summers with her grandmother in a remote corner of Eastern Iceland, and also resided with her uncle in Germany. As a youngster, she was given only a cursory introduction to music: a bit of classical, Italian pop and Icelandic folk songs.

Isabel Bayrakdarian: Track 8 - "Evenstar"

Young, stunning soprano, ahead of her years in both voice and musicianship, Isabel Bayrakdarian is gaining international prominence for her electrifying stage presence and captivating voice. Since winning the Metropolitan Opera Competition in 1997, and many others since then, she has become one of the hottest young sopranos in demand today. Her most recent triumph is first prize in Plácido Domingo's Operalia 2000 Competition.

Sheila Chandra: Track 14 - "Breath Of Life"

Born in South London to a South Indian immigrant family, Sheila Chandra discovered her voice at the age of twelve and whilst at Theatre Arts school. From this moment her chosen path was to be a singer. Lacking any real contacts or access to the music business, she nevertheless honed her vocal skills as a labour of love, spending up to two hours a night throwing her voice into the tall, draughty and uncarpeted stairwell of the family home: "I didn’t know how to manufacture an opportunity, but I was determined that when a chance came my way I would be ready."

The Track Listing For The Two Towers Soundtrack!
Strider @ 5:55 pm EST

Soundtrack.net have managed to be the first site to snag the official track listing for Howard Shore's score to The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and the line-up looks as, if not more, impressive than last year's Oscar-winning soundtrack.

1. Foundations Of Stone
2. The Taming Of Sméagol
3. The Riders Of Rohan
4. The Passage Of The Marshes
5. The Uruk-hai
6. The King Of The Golden Hall
7. The Black Gate Is Closed
8. Evenstar (featuring Isabel Bayrakdarian)
9. The White Rider
10. Treebeard
11. The Leave Taking
12. Helm's Deep
13. The Forbidden Pool
14. Breath Of Life (featuring Sheila Chandra)
15. The Hornburg
16. Forth Eorlingas (featuring Ben Del Maestro)
17. Isengard Unleashed (featuring Elizabeth Fraser & Ben Del Maestro)
18. Samwise The Brave
19. Gollum's Song (performed by Emiliana Torrini)
20. (Bonus Track): Farewell To Lórien (featuring Hilary Summers)

There will be three different editions of the soundtrack released: a standard edition with one of five collectable double-sided trading cards; a limited edition with the extra bonus track, "Farewell to Lórien" from The Fellowship of the Ring: Special Edition DVD; and finally a mysterious third edition with a run of only 5,000 available to buy online.

After studying the list for a while, here's some random thoughts from my TORn desk on this enthralling line-up:
• Is the name of the opening track a reference to Emyn Muil, and thus supports the belief that the opening shot is of Frodo and Sam instead of the Three Hunters?
• The promotion of the soundtrack should be a marked improvement without Enya, after Reprise's disasterous campaign last year which focused too heavily on their Irish singer.
• A greater emphasis has been placed on vocals, the number of featuring artists doubling from 3 on the FotR soundtrack to 6 on the TTT soundtrack.
• 'Forth Eorlingas' and 'Isengard Unleashed' seem to be the two tracks which will play during the Battle of Helm's Deep.
• There does not appear to be a Minas Tirith track of any kind on the soundtrack.
• 'The Forbidden Pool' suggests the Henneth Annun will definetly make an appearance in the film, most likely with the footage of Gollum hitting a fish of the ground which was being filmed during the Two Towers preview on the FotR DVD.
• Will 'Gollum's Theme' be the last track to play into the credits at the end of the film? And what does this name suggest; perhaps we will get a glimpse of Gollum's betrayal of the Hobbits to Shelob in anticipation for the opening of The Return of the King. Or will we see some inner struggle between the guilt-ridden Slinker and the ring-obsessed stinker which will continue in RotK?

November 6th is Lord of the Rings Day!
Demosthenes @ 4:49 pm EST

Houghton Mifflin is about to release four brand-new movie tie-in books for LoTR fans everywhere to drool over and enjoy. To coincide with the release on November 6th, 2002, they've team up with us (TheOneRing.net) to organise Line Parties.

If you're in the USA, here's the latest news from HM on what's happening where and when.

Oh, and if you want to join a Line, head here!

November 6th is "Lord of the Rings Day"!

On November 6th, thousands of Tolkien fans will gather at bookstores around the US to be the first to buy our books offering an exclusive sneak peek at "The Two Towers," the second film in The Lord of the Rings trilogy:


Houghton Mifflin Company, U.S. publishers of J.R.R. Tolkien's works since 1938, and TheOneRing.net are teaming up to sponsor "line party" events around the country on November 6, 2002, the national laydown date for Houghton Mifflin's books based on New Line Cinema's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. TheOneRing.net expects to have at least 500 line parties participating in the November 6th celebration.

Clay Harper, Tolkien projects director for Houghton Mifflin says, "More than 17 million Tolkien books were sold in the U.S. over the last two years, and now via the internet, the fellowship of fans is expanding out into communities nationwide. These books are filled with spectacular images from the forthcoming film -- all made available to an eager audience six weeks before the movie debuts [on December 18th]."

According to Chris Pirrotta, co-webmaster of TheOneRing.net, "It is passion for Tolkien's world that has brought us all together on-line, and it is the same passion that brings us together off-line."

For further information about the line parties and their locations, please visit www.TheOneRing.net.

In addition to these line party events, bookstores in college communities around the country are also hosting "Lord of Rings Day" celebrations. Participating college stores include those at the University of Notre Dame, the University of Washington, the University of Virginia, and University of Southern California. Events will include trivia contests, costume contests, viewing of the latest "The Two Towers" trailer, and trading card, board game, and video game demonstrations.

Tolkien fans at select stores will also be treated to a preview of the "From Book to Script" featurette included on "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" extended DVD edition to be released by New Line Cinema on November 12th. The stores offering the special preview are Borders Books & Music in Salt Lake City, UT; the University of Notre Dame bookstore in South Bend, IN; University Bookstore in Seattle, WA; Barnes & Noble in College Station, TX; and Border Books & Music in Boston, MA.


ISBN 0-618-26022-6, $17.95 paperback
ISBN 0-618-25800-0, $29.95 hardcover

ISBN 0-618-25802-7, $18.95 hardcover

ISBN 0-618-25811-6, $8.95 paperback

ISBN 0-618-25736-5, $8.95 paperback


NB: * Indicates that the event includes a preview of the "From Book to Script" featurette included on "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" extended DVD edition

11/6, 7:00 p.m.
* Notre Dame Bookstore
Eck Center
South Bend, IN

11/6, 7:00 p.m
* Barnes & Noble
711 Texas Avenue
College Station, TX

11/6, 7:00 p.m.
* University Bookstore
4326 University Way NE
Seattle, WA

11/6, 7:00 p.m.
* Borders Books
Crossroads Mall
50 South Main Street
Salt Lake City, UT

11/6. 6:00 p.m.
* Borders Books
Downtown Crossing
Boston, MA

11/6, 9:30 a.m.
Kansas Union Bookstore
1301 Jayhawk Boulevard
The University of Kansas
Lawrence, KS

11/6, 6:00 p.m.
Borders Books
159 Fletcher Parkway
El Cajon, CA

11/6, 7:00 p.m.
Borders Books
196 Alps Road
Athens, GA

11/6, all day promotion
University of North Carolina Bookstore
Chapel Hill, NC

11/6, all day promotion
University of Southern California Bookstore
Los Angeles, CA

11/6, all day promotion
Arizona State University Bookstore
525 East Orange Street
Tempe, AZ

11/7, 12:00 -- 2:00 p.m.
University of Virginia Bookstore
Charlottesville, VA

11/7, 11:00 a.m. -- 1:00 p.m.
University of Southern Florida Bookstore
Tampa, FL

11/7, 7:00 p.m.
Columbia Books
22 South 9th St.
Columbia, MO

11/8, 7:00 p.m.
603 North Lamar
Austin, TX

11/27, 6:30 p.m.
Barnes & Noble Mayfair Road
2500 North Mayfair Road
Wauwatosa, WI

Live In The UK? Wanna Go To The Paris Premiere?!
Xoanon @ 12:51 pm EST

David writes:

I'm writing from What's On TV, the UK's biggest selling TV listings mag.

In our issue on sale 12 November, we're running a competition to win a trip to Paris to go to the European premiere of The Two Towers. Now, since we're not allowed to fix these things, it means that I can't snaffle the prize for myself - so I thought readers of theonering.net might like to know about it!

The prize is return travel to Paris via Eurostar for two people, including transfers, two nights accommodation (bed and breakfast) in the four-star Hotel Sofitel, and two tickets to the premiere on 10 December 2002.

The competition is only open to residents of the UK, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, and the winner and their companion for the trip must both be over 18. Oh, and you must be available to travel on 9 December and return on 11 December - otherwise you'll have two very hot tickets and no way of using them!

I promise you that I've not been asked by anyone at the magazine to promote the competition by writing to you. I'm a big old fan, and would kill for this prize, but sadly I'm just not allowed to enter. I only want to increase the odds of another deserving fan winning by telling you chaps about it!

Remember, the competition is in the issue of What's On TV on sale on 12 November 2002 - the one with EastEnders' Laura and Ian on the cover. Oh, and the question you have to answer to enter the competition is painfully easy... Put it this way: the answer starts with the letters "J R R". Good luck!

DecipherCon Craziness -- Day One at the Con
Quickbeam @ 12:26 am EST

Greetings -- Quickbeam here.

Dateline: Norfolk, Virginia
Headline: LOTR Geeks Run Amok!
Subhead: Brand new Two Towers cards revealed!
Caption: Card Flippers of the World, UNITE!

But seriously, folks. This is what it feels like to be swirling in the chaos that is the Chesapeake Convention Center this weekend. There are scores of young people flipping cards across hundreds of tables. From today until November 3rd, this place is a hotbed of crazed and very happy gamers!

I am one of them.

Decipher has scheduled this event every year since 1998. The World Championship events that are built around Decipher's many trading card games were originally held privately (only for qualified players) in 1996 but now these glorious competitions are open to everyone and their sister and the kitchen sink.

Are you a fan of the LOTR card game? If you can play - if you can have fun with your friends - you should be here in Norfolk right now playing for the top $7,000 prize. Yeah, you heard me, SEVEN THOUSAND DOLLARS. And also the Chrysler PT Cruiser (which is a lovely solid black model worth about $22,000). And also the stunning solid gold replica of The One Ring itself. And the huge trophy. And the accolades of fans across the globe. No wonder the players here are so intense as they concentrate!

The slogan for this huge event: Think - Play - Be - FIERCE

The comfortable suburbs of Virginia have been turned into a buzzing hive of Lord of the Rings fans, who are all here to compete and enjoy the camaraderie. Cleaner and better organized than any other gaming convention I've ever attended, the DecipherCon brings the best LOTR players in the world together under one roof. They broke a record today with a mammoth number of participants in today's World Championship qualifier.

I walk around the room and hear dozens of different accents. Those folks are speaking French. Is that Russian I hear from that table? There is even one lad from New Zealand who qualified and flew here this weekend. Good on ya, mate!

For myself and many others, the highlight of this event is seeing the brand new cards for The Two Towers card set! If you want some delicious movie spoilers then this is THE PLACE TO SEE THEM my dears. I'm sure that I will get some of these cards scanned in and published on TORN before the weekend is over.

Remember, the new Two Towers cards will not be released in stores until next week, November 6, 2002. We will bring you an EXCLUSIVE first look at the card images before anyone else. Just wait until you see this stuff! Stay tuned to this spot to get a really good look at Faramir, and the outstanding decorative armor of the Southrons, and more!

The TTT set is composed of 365 new cards, including colorful templates for these three cultures, providing the game with a mirror for the new races and nations we will see in the second film:


Let me tell you a bit about the Booster Draft product that Decipher has just created. I myself have sat down to play this unique draft style tournament. For those novices out there, a "draft" game is not the kind where you sit down using your own pre-constructed deck of cards. No, no -- you leave those cards at home. What you draft to play with comes from the single booster packs you open fresh right as you sit down. You don't know what you're going to get until you are there! This randomness puts everyone at the table on equal footing, regardless of experience. The new Fellowship Draft Pack is indeed a special pack of 29 cards from the Fellowship set, with a perfect even number of Free Peoples cards and Shadow cards (and one randomly inserted Rare card for fun). This pack contains only "meat and potatoes" cards - basic Companions, Minions and weapons, representing the foundation of your deck. Then each player opens up regular boosters from Fellowship, Mines of Moria, and Realms of the Elf Lords, and starts sorting through to add additional supporting cards to create a fully playable deck. The new Draft Pack makes the draft style of play so much easier and fun. And for beginners who are just starting out, these Draft Packs are PERFECT for building up a good, solid collection. Even though I lost today's games with amazing consistency, I still want to play again with this format. Splendid fun all around.

After today's qualifying rounds for the World Championship only about 45 players will go on out of the original 254 that first sat down to compete. The competition is just as FIERCE as the evil Balrog itself. I have seen the best of the best, each player sitting down across from someone he knows is a brilliant player from somewhere else in the wide world; each sweating bullets as the giant clock on the wall runs down to zero. BUZZ! Time is up -- the judge comes rushing over -- tie-breaking criteria are carefully weighed and determined -- then only one is announced the winner who will advance to play successive rounds with even more skilled players.

Want to see how a REAL master deck is prepared? Well, here is another exclusive. What follows is the full card list from Championship player David Malboeuf, from Quebec, Canada. He was one of today's top players in the brutal first round of qualifiers, coming out on third after a full day of unbelievable competition. He did not lose a single game. This is his complete deck used in the tournament.

Frodo, Reluctant Adventurer
The One Ring, Isildur's Bane

Draw Deck (Free Peoples)
1 Gandalf, The Grey Pilgrim
1 Pippin, Hobbit of Some Intelligence
1 Gimli, Son of Gloin
1 Merry, Friend to Sam
1 Sam, Proper Poet
1 Arwen, Daughter of Elrond
1 Legolas, Greenleaf
1 Aragorn, Ranger of the North
2 Boromir, Defender of Minas Tirith
4 Elrond, Lord of Rivendell
3 Ottar, Man of Laketown
1 Galadriel, Lady of the Golden Wood
1 Calaglin, Elf of Lorien
1 Orophin, Lorien Bowman
1 Rumil, Elven Protector
1 Thrarin, Dwarven Smith
1 Albert Dreary, Entertainer from Bree
1 Filibert Bolger, Wily Rascal
4 Hobbit Stealth
2 Hobbit Intuition
2 Horn of Boromir
2 Sleep Caradhras
1 O Elbereth Gilthoniel
1 Sting
1 Frying Pan
1 A Wizard is Never Late
1 Glamdring
1 Secret Sentinels

Draw Deck (Shadow):
1 Goblin Wallcrawler
4 Goblin Scavenger
4 Moria Scout
4 Goblin Runner
2 Goblin Warrior
4 Such a Little Thing
4 Goblin Armory
4 Goblin Scimitar
1 Balrog, Flame of Udun
1 Trolls' Keyward
1 Cave Troll of Moria, Scourge of the Black Pit
2 Ulaire Nertea, Messenger of Dol Guldur
1 Guard Commander
1 Ulaire Enquea, Lieutenant of Morgul
2 They are Coming
2 Goblin Swarms
2 Host of Thousands

Adventure Deck
Site 1 Westfarthing
Site 2 Bucklebury Ferry
Site 3 Rivendell Terrace
Site 4 Mithril Mine
Site 5 Bridge of Khazad-dum
Site 6 Dimrill
Site 7 Anduin Wilderland
Site 8 Shores of Nen Hithoel
Site 9 Summit of Amon Hen

Now here is the challenge. If you have all of these cards or can trade with people to create this deck, you will have the same power and strategy that David is trying to use to claim the top prize. Try it yourself and see how it works!

But who knows if David will make it to the winner's circle? At the end of Saturday, November 2, the final champion will be decided.

I will come back to you with more reports from DecipherCon, including special interviews with the people who created this wonderful game. More to come my friends!

Much too hasty,


For the other reports in this Series:

DecipherCon Day Two[click here]
DecipherCon Day Three[click here]
DecipherCon Day Four[click here]

10-31-02 Latest News

TTT Exhibit Report Part II
Xoanon @ 11:03 pm EST

I held Sting yesterday, the same Sting I've seen on the big screen and DVD countless amount of times. True it was the scale double, the one used by the small actor in the Frodo mask and makeup. Yet it was still Sting to me, and one of the highlights of my day.

I was loitering around one of the displays waiting for my personal tour of the exhibit when one of the art directors opened the case to re-adjust it. I aksed all the right questions and got my hands on it. It was quite lightweight and very detailed. Ironically I saw Boromir's horn, which seemed very well used, but it was rather plain.

I made my way upstairs to the exhibit...

And suddenly I was in Middle-earth.

We are first treated to the mysterious wonders of Fangorn Forest, with its old, witherd trees and mossy underfoot, you feel smothered by the intensity of the place. There was a certain mossy smell that Billy Boyd commented to me about, and Emma, my companion through the tour, said that she felt like any one of those trees felt like they could come to life at any moment.

You had to watch your head as long, gnarling branches made their way across your path, and you can't help but look back at one of the many waterfalls and pools of water used to make the entire environment come alive.

Theoden's chamber at in the Golden Hall was next, with a faux open-pit fire burning we were treated to Theoden's throne and some of the massive pillars and wall hangings used on set. There are two display cases featuring Theoden and Eomer's swords and sheaths, the Edorian style is very evocative of the Viking culture, with the two handed double-edges swords and low sloping helmets with the nose guard down the middle.

All along the walls were amazing full color photo stills from the film, massive pictures of Eomer, Theoden, Wormtongue and Eowyn. The next room continued the Edoras theme but with different elements from the battle at Helms Eeep, Elvish armour standing alongside Easterling mail suits and display cases with Legolas' bow and fighting knives, which were much bigger than I had expected. That room opens up to a mock-up of the Helms Deep battle! Suddenly I'm on the front likes with Orc ladders being raised and lighting flashing before me, it was so much fun to pretend we were fighting the good fight!

The next room takes us to the golden glittering caves, something I thought we had not seen, I was wrong. The scene from the trialer and in a few photos with Eowyn holding a sword and hiding from the view of an Orc is indeed from the glittering caves. This room was wonderous in it's beauty...it was so simple yet wonderfully decorated, the cave walls themselves glittered with a shimmering light that made the room seem to glow from an unknown light source. There were costumes from the refugees of Rohan, I got the chance to feel a few of the costumes and get a sense of what it must have felt like to wear this for hours on end in the mountaintops of the Edoras set.

This led us to a dark staircase with the evil ring inscription rotating on the grownd below us...and suddenly we were in Saruman's throne room in Orthanc...I felt the sense of evil and forboding that Gandalf must have felt when those doors closed all around him when he was betrayed. The set piece itself was expertly done, I was so impressed that I actually thought this was hauled from New Zealand in one big piece, in reality it was only a re-creation.

A winding set of stairs leads you up and over the top of the Orthanc throne and into Saruman's book room. The light pooring in from his cross-hatched window frames immediately brought me back to the film, and indeed the detials were so intricate, down to the jar of bubbling eye balls of in the corner.
After Saruman's throne room you have to once again descend the flight of stairs and pass his throne room again (this section is so full of character and is so creepy I felt I had to scurry past in order to avoid the soothing yet evil voice!). We are brought through the horrible and dank dungeons of the caverns of Isenguard. I can see the Uruk-Hai birthing pods...is that Lurtz coming out at me...get out of here get out!

We pass into an open area and are immediately struck by the large, open swamp lake to our right, with a massive tree in the middle and the mossy growth around it. The water is so calm and still you can almost mistake it for glass...but look again..there are bodies submerged in the water!

Yes the old ghosts from battles long past still haunt the dead marshes to this day! That a treat to see the ghosts of the white city still in their leather armour!

This is followed by the caves of Henneth Annun, and the meeting of Faramir and his men, there are small nooks and crannies that you can miss if you don't look close enough, on my second pass through the exhibit (it was VERY late at night and I basically had the run of the place...so much fun!) I noticed a small little laneway that took us behind a large waterfall and into the caves that Faramir and his men use, where we got to see the Sam and Frodo costumes in full glory and explore a little of cave life as they may have spent it for the night they were there.

Next was the Osgilath ruins and one of the most detailed environments of the entire place. We are taken directly into this ruined tower and you can really see what they mean by ruins! There is a stairwell on the right that is completely un-usable. My imagination raced as I pictured men trying to defend this place from maurading orcs rampaging and killing in the name of The Eye. This was truly wonderfull, and off into the distace was a stone carving of the white tree, bathed in light...amazing.

The last environment in the exhibit is Arwen's bedroom, literally...the 'Bed of Roses' we've seen in trailers for years now is seen here, as well as the dress she wears and some of the very fine nick-nacs you can only find in Rivendell, like an intracatley shaped perfume bottle (which you can open, as I demonstrated and was given a dirty look for by one of the rent-o-guards) and candle-holder. Her room was very open to nature, much like the rest of Rivendell, and was indeed full of rose petals and wonderful ornate designs.

This was the end of the exhibit. I have to say that if you are in the Toronto area between now and December 1st you really should check it out. If only for a look at what you will see in The Two Towers, December 18th can't come fast enough!.

My next report will cover the party, which mainly consisted of great music, small orderves and John Howe and I looking for a place to sit!

Look for pictures, video and more soon!

TTT Exhibit Report!
Xoanon @ 2:11 pm EST

TORN Invades Toronto1

Toronto TTT Pre-Exhibit and Interviews:

I had the very lucky opportunity to attend the press junket and pre-opening tour of the Two Towers exhibit in Toronto yesterday.

My day started out in Montreal as I woke up early to head to the airport. I took the ‘airbus’ hop over to Toronto (6 hour drive, 58 minute flight…amazing isn’t it?), there was no in-flight meal or any type of entertainment on these short hops between Montreal and Toronto. I had to pay for my morning tea and didn’t get a bite to eat…I landed at the huge Pearson International airport, which I’m convinced was designed by the same bloke who makes those connecting tunnels for your hamsters.

7 moving sidewalks and escalators later I arrived at my rental care desk only to get a phone call from the folks at the exhibit telling me I’m late. I calm them down and re-assure them that I will be there in no less than 45 minutes, this was at 10:45 am.

The rental car place of course lost my reservation, which I made online (so much for the internet! The desk lady said to me) so I had to argue with them to get my car….oh and my Credit Card became de-magnetized as well…still didn’t get anything to eat.

For my troubles the car rental place gave me a very cool blue PT Cruiser to make my way downtown. At 11:20 I made my way down 427 south and generally tried to point my car towards the CN tower, the heart of downtown Toronto.

Remember me telling you that I promised to make it down to the exhibit at 11:15? Well at that time I was most likely heading the wrong direction towards Hamilton and had to find a way to turn around.

I finally arrived sometime after 1pm (YES 1 PM) and managed to get myself re-scheduled alongside all the TV stations and Video reporters. I met some of the producers from the IFC Channel and Space: The Imagination Station, as well as some folks from Reel to Reel and a few other entertainment related TV shows from Toronto.

As I was setting up my camera outside to get some establishing shots of the Planetarium Alan Lee walked past me (right in front pf my camera God bless him), followed by John Howe, Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan! I made my quick ‘hellos’ as they were being rushed inside for the press junkets.

Soon all the TV talent (myself included, go internet!) were ushered inside and taken in groups of 3 to interview Chris and Dan Hennah, John Howe and Alan Lee, and the hobbit boys Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan.

Chris and Dan Hennah Interview:

I was ushered into a small side-room with a huge image of Aragorn hanging on the wall and the shards of Narsil in a glass case beside me. I was admiring the sword that was broken when Chris and Dan Hennah came down the stairs from the exhibit and sat down with me to chat for a while.

Chris and Dan Hennah are the supervising Art Directors for the trilogy, and were in charge for both of the LOTR events in Toronto this year and last. They were as approachable as can be, in the New Zealand manner of laid back friendliness. We spoke about many things, they mentioned jetting off to Paris for the premiere of the Two Towers after this, then back home to work on film 3 (as Dan pointed out that film two is indeed in the can and complete).

We spoke about our Oscar party last year, they expressed dismay that they were unable to attend and made a promise to be there if they are in town that weekend. (I quote: ‘we were forced t go to that Elton John party…’)

When asked about the TTT exhibit you can tell they were truly proud of the Middle-earth magic they’ve created here in southern Canada. It took six whole weeks of hard work getting the environments just right, I will be talking about the amazing exhibit a little later.

Dan mentioned to us that most of the props will have to go back to New Zealand soon as they will be shooting almost 5 months of pick up shots for Return of the King next spring!

John Howe and Alan Lee Interview:

I was then brought into a very odd little backroom filled with boxes and electric wiring, John and Alan were sitting together making small talk, old friends catching up on all things Tolkien I imagine.

I asked them what they thought of the exhibit, they were truly in awe by the entire thing. Alan had designed the ‘maps’ used by at the venue to guide people through the various environments, but even he was shocked by what was sheer magic and ‘atmosphere’ created by the art department from New Zealand.

John remarked to me that it was great to be back in Canada, when Alan told him Toronto was wonderful, John quickly remarked that Canada was much more than Toronto…only a non-Torontonian Canadian can appreciate that comment!

The two artists share more than an amazing talent at Tolkien artwork and design; they are also two of the most soft-spoken people I’ve ever met. The fact that Peter, Fran and Philippa based their writing and design on their artwork does not effect them at all. There were no egos in that room (myself not included) as John and Alan were quick to both applaud the other’s wonderful work in FOTR as well as TTT.

Alan told me his favorite set-piece was Edoras, and the Golden Hall. He was so enchanted by the location in New Zealand, the lighting and vistas; he said it was amazing to be there.

John told me that he is most looking foreword to the ‘epic battle scene at the end of the film’, which left me salivating for more information!!!

But alas I was escorted out to meet Billy and Dom, something that I was looking forward to for weeks!

Before yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to speak with John Rhys-Davies, and meet Ian McKellen, Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Richard Taylor and a whole slew of WETA folks. But I had only spoken via emails to the others. This was my chance to sit down with Billy and Dom with no distractions! Little did I know that they’d make their own distractions without the need of outside influences!

Billy Boyd & Dominic Monaghan Interview:

I was brought into a little stairwell that leads to the event upstairs. So many items are on display here that even a small little stairwell can hold amazing items to behold! I was waiting for Billy and Dom and perused the display cases, only to see Galadriel’s mirror, her pitcher and crown, as well as Elrond’s crown and Arwen’s necklace.

Billy and Dom waltzed in and immediately started to cause trouble. One of the art decorators, Nancy, was quietly placing name cards in the display cases when Billy and Dom immediately being to rail her up

‘There’s Nancy making an exhibition of herself…’

When I finally managed to get them into a chair to talk Tolkien, they remarked to me that the exhibit upstairs was lovely to behold, and brought back the oddest of memories. ‘The smell,’ Billy explains ‘they must use the same stuff they did during the shoot, for the moss and stuff, because the smell brought me right back to the days we were filming Fangorn forest, in ways only a smell can’.

The exhibit was a great chance for Billy and Dom to get back together as Billy has been working hard in Mexico on the Russell Crowe/Peter Weir film ‘Master and Commander’ and Dom has had some work on and indie production ‘An Insomniac’s Nightmare’ in New York City.

The boys mentioned that they very rarely get their fill of LOTR stuff, because it is all so exciting.

‘We come to events like this (in Toronto) and it reminds us how cool this project was’ Dom explains.

The boys recently got together to record an audio track for the Extended Edition DVD and loved what they saw.

‘It’s great to see all those moments in the movie that give nods to the books,’ Billy says ‘Like that great scene with Dom, Orlando and myself in Lorien with the lembas, great stuff’.

The boys then proceeded to test the locks in the display cases and change the name cards around, much to my delight…but to the dismay of the art directors trying to rein them in!

I was then brought into the exhibit and later attended the opening party. Be sure to check out my report tomorrow covering the party, the exhibit itself and much much more!

Pictures to come soon!

Moria Coolness With TTT Books
Xoanon @ 12:22 pm EST

Dylan writes: I am a bookstore manager for one of the largest East Coast bookstores and today we were shipped quite a treat from Houghton Mifflin. Along with their Two Towers Visual Companion (Release Date is Nov. 6) they sent us a pillar, such as something out of Moria. J.R.R. Tolkien's runes decorate the top border of the grey pillar which stands approx. 2 feet tall. But what was to set on top almost brought me to giggling, bookends from Sideshow Weta which depicted the scene of Gandalf knocking on the door to Bilbo's hobbit hole. One bookend is Gandalf with his staff against the door, and the other is Bilbo about to open the door. Extremely well crafted, I cannot wait to own my own copy. I don't know if we will be selling these in the future, or if it is only to help promote the books and movie, but my name is there to reserve it, so I'll be happy either way.

Lord of the Rings meets Lady of the Strings
Xoanon @ 12:10 pm EST

From Knockgrafton Productions , October 29, 2002 FOR IMMEDIATE PRESS RELEASE

Lord of the Rings meets Lady of the Strings

London Celtic Harper, Jennifer White, to perform at the launch of The Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers Exhibit

LONDON / MIDDLE-EARTH--Even before the long awaited Part Two of THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy THE TWO TOWERS hits movie screens this coming December, Tolkien fans from around the world will be converging on the Royal Ontario Museum's McLaughlin Planetarium for an experiential journey through Tolkien's Middle-Earth as Alliance Atlantic Motion Pictures Distribution presents THE LORD OF THE RINGS TWO TOWERS EXHIBIT, an experiential exhibition containing artefacts from New Line Cinema's theatrical production of THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS, which will launch in Toronto November 1, 2002 for a four-week period at the Royal Ontario Museum's McLaughlin Planetarium building.

This news is enough to make any true fan of the Tolkien / Peter Jackson movie trilogy set out on their own quest for tickets, as did Celtic harper, Jennifer White, and her percussionist partner, Robert McMaster.

"We missed the first exhibit last year at Toronto's Casa Loma that displayed props and costumes from Part One, THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, and we weren't going to miss this one. When we heard the news of this year's exhibit, you can imagine we quickly joined the line for tickets for this exciting event," says White.

Like the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien, White has drawn on many ancient Nordic and Celtic myths and legends for themes and inspiration for her musical compositions for harp. But who would have thought that she would be playing these compositions to a crowd of 1000 invited guests at the Launch Party of THE TWO TOWERS EXHIBIT in Toronto this coming Wednesday evening.

Jennifer's partner, percussionist Robert McMaster saw an ad in a Toronto paper for THE TWO TOWERS EXHIBIT in the form of a full page poster.

Being a collector of all things Tolkien, McMaster sent out a few on-line inquiries to see if he could find one of the full colour event posters to add to his collection. One such e-mail, which also contained the web-site and e-mail address of White's music production company, Knockgrafton Productions, came to the attention of Julia Caslin, Director of Publicity and Promotions for Alliance Atlantis Motion Pictures. Back came an inquiry: would the duo be available to play the Two Towers Exhibit Launch Party on October 30? Two days of anxious anticipation later, their performance booking was confirmed for the Launch.

So, bright and early Wednesday morning White and McMaster will be packing up harp and drums and heading east on the 401 for a gig in Tolkien's Middle-Earth.

10-30-02 Latest News

LOTR:FOTR Extended DVD Review!
leo @ 4:52 pm EST

So, here I am; sitting behind my desk. Last week I was able to see about seven hours from the Extended DVD and here's my take on the entire thing. Owh and if you are wondering why it took me so long to write up this report, first I had to finish a very detailed one for the Dutch communitysite TheFellowship.nl so if you happen to know a few words Dutch and you are not afraid of a terrible ammount of spoilers you might want to think about reading that review, which can be found here. But enough of this shameless self-promotion, let's get down to business.

First of all, let me tell you that I will not get into great detail about the extras on disc 3 and 4 because I think Xoanon covered those quite well in his review (which, in turn, can be found here), I am here to tell you all about the extended cut of The Fellowship of the Ring and it will be quite spoilerish so keep that in mind before you continue.

Ahh.. where to start, where to start... My biggest fear before seeing the extended cut was that I was going to look at the theatrical version of FOTR with here and there a new scene plunged in. It was the feeling you would get when for instance you would look at a scene and know that it was new, because there is something entirely different happening in the movie compared to the theatrical version. The great thing about this extended cut is that you rarely have these kind of scenes.

What PJ did most of the time was simply make a scene longer, add a little bit dialogue or a make a shot last longer. This can quite easily be explained by one of the first added scenes on the dvd: the moment when Frodo and Sam run into a group of Elves heading towards the Grey Havens. Now it would have been very easy to simply 'dump' the scene anywhere in between the moment when Gandalf leaves Frodo and Sam and when they meet up with Merry and Pippin, but what PJ was a far better solution in my opinion. At a certain moment in the theatrical version we see the camera focussing on Frodo and Sam underneath a tree cooking some dinner. It then cuts to a totally different scene, I believe of Gandalf heading to Orthanc but I could be wrong there, but in the extended cut this scene lasts longer and we hear Frodo and Sam talk for a while until they hear Elves singing and decide to check it out. Very nicely done.

Now the result of cutting the movie that way leads to a quite different and, again in my opinion, far better movie. Not that the theatrical version of FOTR wasn't good, far from it in fact, but the extended cut is as a movie so much better because with all this added material is makes the movie more complete in various ways.

The movie starts of exactly like the theatrical version and the only new scene we see in the prologue is a scene of Isildur. The beginning of this scene is the one we see in the theatrical version of him and his soldiers riding through the woods, the extended bit is the part in which the Orcs attack him and he puts on the Ring and it slips from his fingers when he tries to swim. Not much new there although the look in Isildurs eyes when he sees the Ring sinking to the bottom of the river where he cannot get to it in his heavy armoury is a nice detail.

When the story gets started it does so with an entire new beginning. Instead of seeing Frodo read underneath a tree we see Bilbo starting on his book and in a voice-over we hear him discuss Hobbits and their behaviour while we get some beautiful shots of Hobbiton and the Hobbits gathered on the marketplace. Amongst other things the Hobbits love for food and pipeweed is mentioned.

Suddenly there's a knock on the door and Bilbo calls for Frodo to open the door. Frodo however is not there and we find him reading his book and meeting up with Gandalf much like in the theatrical version. But the conversation between Gandalf and Frodo has also been editted here and there, some parts of their discussion are replaced by Bilbo's voice-over and other parts in the conversation were not in the theatrical version. This gives it a much more serious 'tone' and overall makes it a whole different scene.

The entire Shire-sequence right until the Hobbits reach Bree contains a whole lot of new material, not only in the beginning but also during the Long Expected Party (which features some very funny moments) and an extended scene inside the Green Dragon in which we see Merry, Pippin and Frodo singing and we meet the Gaffer! A lot of nice stuff from the books has been put back in to the movies in these scenes and it's great fun recognising them.

The next bit of new material we see is when the Hobbits and Strider head to Rivendel. There is a great shot from the Midgewater Marshes with one of my favorite lines from the books in it and a lot more shots from the company travelling through a snow-covered landscape. There is also a very touching scene of Aragorn singing the Lay of Luthien and explaining it to Frodo.

Although I'd have to say that the Lorien-squence benifitted the most from the extended cut Rivendel would be a good second. We get a new beginning of the Council of Elrond with Gandalf uttering the Ring verse in the Dark Speech, much to the dismay of all the others present. Boromir also gets some more lines during the Council in which he tells about his dream and Isildurs Bane. After that we get another great scene when Aragorn visits his mothers grave and talks to Elrond about his mother and being the last in the line of Elendil. When I first saw FOTR I have to say I had my doubts about the way PJ decided to portray Aragorn but to be honest I quite like the change and with scenes like these PJ really 'sticks to his choice' and it makes the character a whole lot better in my opinion. The Rivendel-sequence ends with Elrond giving his blessing over the Fellowship and Frodo leading the Fellowship out of Rivendel, although he still needs Gandalf to tell him wether Mordor is to the left or to the right.

On the way to Moria we see some extended scenes again, mostly between Boromir and Merry and Pippin. Their 'fight' scene gets expanded a bit and we see a shot of Boromir protecting the two Hobbits on Caradhras. Then, when the Fellowship reaches Moria, the story turns more Frodo-centric again when Gandalf takes him apart and tells him about powers in Middle-earth he has not yet matched his strength against, and that he fears someone from within the Fellowship will try to take the Ring from Frodo. Perhaps some wink to Gandalf's foresight? The scenes before the Doors of Moria also have some great new dialogue in it ("Knock on the door with your head Peregrin Took, but if that does not shatter them, and I am allowed a little piece from foolish questions, I will seek for the opening words!' great stuff) and we get to see some sarcastic friction between Legolas and Gimli when Legolas questions the odd ways in which Dwarves tend to keep their secrets.

When the Fellowship finally enters Moria there is some good dialogue about Mithril and Bilbo getting a Mithril shirt that was worth more then the entire Shire. All this stuff is straight from the books and its combined with some more beautiful area-shots in Moria. The fight scene in Balin's Tomb also features some new material with Boromir being thrown across the room by the Cave Troll (and once again I have to say the interaction between the actors and the cgi-Cave Troll looks awesome).

Like I said before: the Lorien-sequences probably benifitted the most from the extended cut. Now when I first saw FOTR I felt that Lorien was probably the weakest part of the film. It was too short, it missed too much and it was too 'dreamy'. And here once again I think PJ on my bare knees for this extended cut, because especially for this part of the movie it does great things. There are tons of new scenes and shots and I won't mention them all because it is far more enjoyable to just sit back and watch them for the first time. However there are some extended scenes in which Haldir and Aragorn discuss in Elvish, we get to see a lot more stuff from Celeborn (he must have had a very bad they when he saw they only kept one of his lines in the final movie) and they slightly added the scene in which Galadriel and Celeborn talk to the Fellowship; Celeborn is more 'in charge' of the conversation whereas Galadriel has more time to 'read their minds'. Here again are some nice bits straight from the books like Galadriel saying that none knew fully what Gandalf was up to and Legolas defining the Balrog as 'A Balrog from Morgoth'.

We also get to see Sam reciting his verse in the lament for Gandalf, another great scene, and some smaller detailed stuff like Aragorn sharpening his sword and Galadriel showing Nenya to Frodo; a lot of little eyecandy for the fans!

Now as for the giftgiving-scene: that was truely awesome. It was beautifully cut (we basically get to see it in flashbacks when the Fellowship is leaving Lorien by boat) and head some great moments (I won't spoil them all) that brought a smile to my face. We saw Pippin and Merry getting their knives, Sam getting his rope (unfortunally he does not get the little box with 'dirt') and of course we see Gimli trembling and fulling over his words when he asks for his gift. There's more time for Aragorn's goodbye to Galadriel and some more Elvish lines are being spoken.

As the story reaches is end there's some added scenes along the Anduin with a discussion between Aragorn and Boromir which serves as an introduction to the breaking of the Fellowship, Sam taking care of Frodo en we even get to see Gollum on a log! At Amon Hen there's more fighting scenes, especially from Boromir who gets a more 'heroic' death and Legolas who gets to show of some more of his bow and arrow-techniques (we know it's all done by computers Orlando, you don't fool us;) ) And with that the extended cut ends.


Now if I am ever going to see a better movie like this one before TTT I'll eat my shoes. Or maybe my socks.. but you get the point. I love this extended cut, I think it's great! It has some fabulous stuff in it which I think should deffinitly have made it to the big screen, but alas, I am not the one who makes that decision. Now there's a lot of discussion here and there about the whole idea about this extended dvd only a few months after the first dvd etc. etc. I remember a great piece from fellow staffer Quickbeam about it not that long ago so I'll just throw in my two cents here as well.

At first I agree the idea might sound a bit odd. It might sound like New Line is trying to get us for all the cash we are worth (I am far beyond that point by the way), but to be honest: after seeing this dvd I know that's not true. What PJ did with this extended dvd is something we as fans should all be thrilled about; he gave us a new FOTR. And not only is this new FOTR better then the one you saw in theatres; it is also closer to the books we all know and love. And that is eventually what I find important. Because as much as I love these movies and everything about them, it all draws forth on my love for the books. And this dvd to me is a gift from PJ to those fans who feel the same. It is PJ saying to us: 'Hey look here guys, I know you love these books so I made this cut for you!' It is not a dvd that someone should buy who has no 'emotional string' with LOTR, it is a collectors item. Something that all fans will appreciate. It has all these great moments from the book we didn't get to see in the movie, and it has some awesome new music in it from Howard Shore which makes the movie all the more 'new' and better.

And that's just the movie! I haven't even begun to tell you all about disc 3 and 4 and all the fantastic material on those. And I won't because, like I said, Xoanon covered it quite good. I will however point out a few personal highlights from those discs.

Now there are a few things apart from the movie that I would advise everyone to look at right after they sat through the extended cut. If you are a member of the official fanclub you might wanna scroll through the fan credits (also; if you like Howards Shore's score as much as I do I would advise to do it too). I browsed through the fancredits and my name was amongst the fancredits as well!! It was there.. 111 minutes and 7 seconds into the second disc... I'm on the middle of the screen, only a few lines above Barrie Osborne and Mark Ordesky and I'm telling you: it is a very satisfying feeling to see your name in these credits, to me it was a reason to love this dvd even more.

But I'm getting carried away, the absolute must-see from disc 3 would have to be the Bag End Set Test. Again I woint spoil it all but it features some people from the crew (including PJ in the 'lead role') who play out a scene from the movie in a not-even-close-to-being-finished set of Bag End and I tell you; I was laughing so hard it took three people to shut me up! The tour through WETA Workshop was also extremely interesting, especially since I have a long history of standing outside the gates of the WETA Studios trying to peek inside, if only I knew this dvd was coming out back in those weeks I could have saved myself a lot of strolling around Miramar...

Disc 4 also contained a lot of goodies. The Fellowship of the Cast feature was very enjoyable and the 'A Day in the Life of a Hobbit' featured some interesting and funny stuff. Other then that is focusses a lot on all the technical thingies that were done on the movies with the sound effects, visual effects, digital grading and music. All very interesting and very detailed!

So all in all I'd say that anyone who would sit through all of these four discs in one long sit would know absolutely everything they will ever need to know about the production of FOTR (keep in mind; these discs only deal about FOTR, there's more of this goody-ness coming our way next year!), and I don't know about you guys but I live on stuff like this, I loved it, bring me more!

And actually, that was the feeling I had after sitting through almost eight hours of dvd. More, I wanted more. I wanted to know all about the TTT soundtrack. I wanted to walk around Helms Deep and Edoras the way I walked around Rivendel and Hobbiton, and I want to listen to Bernard Hill and Brad Dourif talk about what they thought of their character and their co-stars. But I guess I'll just have to wait for that, after all; waiting an entire year for The Two Towers wasn't as hard as we all thought it would be...



10-27-02 Latest News

Xoanon @ 11:57 pm EST

HarperCollins took a carefully managed approach to its tie-in programme for "The Lord of the Rings". In the event there was no stopping the film - or the books. Caroline Sanderson reports:

Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings is a phenomenon. Consistently voted the peoples favorite - indeed the "Book of the Century" in the well publicized 1997 Waterstone's poll - it has notched up estimated sales of 100 million copies worldwide in 50 languages since it was first published in 1954. In the UK, HarperCollins banks on annual sales of half a million copies, in a quiet year.

Last year, which saw the release of "The Fellowship of the Ring", the first film in the three parts, $300m adaptation of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, was not a quiet year. In 2001, total sales of all editions of The Lord of the Rings novels in the UK reached £18.5m at retail, with sales of all Tolkien titles, including the film tie-ins, rising 500% by value year on year. With the release of the second film, "The Two Towers", scheduled for 18th December, and the third, "The Return of the King", a year later, this particular publishing fantasy is set to have a very long shelf life indeed.

Even before the December 2001 release of "The Fellowship of the Ring", sales of The Lord of the Rings trilogy were already double those of the previous year. Quoted in [UK newspaper] "The Independent" at the time, David Brawn, HarperCollins" publishing director of estates and properties, said: "We can't quite keep up with how it's going. We thought we would sell books, but not until the film came out. Yet it seems people are reading them now to get up to speed. The film has given The Lord of the Rings a currency which was undreamt of even a couple of years ago."

Interestingly, even a couple of years ago sales of Tolkien were already seeing a worldwide increase, a phenomenon that Brawn puts down to factors such as the Book of the Century crown, and "millennial fever". Since HC's acquisition of the Tolkien list in 1990, however, the company has rarely spent much money on the brand. The readership, says Brawn, renews itself as new generations of young people grow into the novels.

Win-win situation

When the film project was announced, naturally there were concerns about what the result would be like. "We thought, it could be awful and frighten off the next generation of readers, but concluded it was probably a win-win situation, because even if wasn't great, it would make people want to read the books instead."

In the event, the first-part of Peter Jackson's adaptation, "The Fellowship of the Ring", received almost universal acclaim, and went on to claim four Oscars, including those for Best Score and Best FX. It has also notched up some impressive statistics at the box office.

Despite the widely quoted views of the author's son, Christopher Tolkien, that the books "are peculiarly unsuitable to transformation into visual dramatic form" (and apart from some grumpy die-hards, says Brawn, "who will always moan about the elf on the left not having pointy enough ears"), the prevailing opinion is that the film has done the books proud.

But would seeing such an extensive and much lauded film adaptation still leave people wanting more and bring new readers to the books themselves? The feeling at HC, Brawn says, was that "they are such fat books with so much richness, that people would need to read them for the full experience".

And so it has proved. But the huge opportunities presented by the film also brought unique publishing challenges. In the first place, HarperCollins found itself in the unusual position - despite already being the author’s publisher - of paying what Brawn described to The Bookseller last year as "an enormous amount of money" to purchase exclusive publishing rights to the Tolkien films.

Then, getting the tie-in titles right presented creative and logistical challenges, with the spectre of the Star Wars tie-in disaster looming over the project like a Ringwraith. "We were fairly nervous about the whole thing, conscious of what had happened to Dorling Kindersley," Brawn recalls. "[Their ruinous over-producing of tie-in books associated with Episode One of] Star Wars set back the cause of tie-in publishing by about three years." So, before the release of the first film, HC took the decision to keep the number of Lord of the Rings tie-in titles strictly limited. This, as Barry Clark, HC’s key properties brand manager, put it, was in order not to "belittle the franchise through a wave of tacky add ons".

Practical considerations

Apart from new tie-in editions of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, only two titles were published in 2001 - Jane Johnson's Visual Companion and Brian Sibley's Official Movie Guide. "If you haven't got too many books, you can get them all in one dumpbin," Brawn points out.

He is amazed by the number of spin-offs produced by some publishers. "For example, I bought all eight books produced to tie-in with [Aardman Animations"] Chicken Run, and it seemed to me that their values were all interchangeable. It’s a much less profitable approach, I think. Our titles are clearly doing different things, with little crossover of material and photos." This, he believes, has encouraged people to buy the whole set of tie-ins. "The strategy worked for us last year, so don't expect our strategy for films two and three to be any different."

Even leaving aside the HC tie-ins, its existing editions of Tolkien's work - including The Hobbit - typically registered five-fold, year-on-year increases in 2001. Brawn says that he has little feel for who is buying which editions, but, he adds, "I don’t think we much care. Retailers have supported both tie-in and existing editions. Some people don’t like tie-ins. But if we hadn't done any tie-ins, I don’t think we would have sold many fewer copies. As Christopher Tolkien once said, you could put J R R Tolkien's books in a brown paper bag and they would still sell."

But with a globally hyped film in the offing, and a whole raft of merchandising, from trading cards to bedspreads, ready to launch, was there perhaps a danger that such a small range of books would be swamped? How did HC contrive to keep the books at the centre of things?

Before the release of the film, the Tolkien estate had granted virtually nothing in the way of licenses, so there had never been a proliferation of merchandise. Though the film company, New Line, kept a comparatively tight hold on the licenses it did grant, Brawn will admit to initial concerns about the fact that HC would no longer be working in "an exclusive environment".

Resisting "kiddification"

He praises New Line for exercising restraint. "You can’t be too purist, and they aren't. The commercial landscape has changed. But there hasn’t been a glut as there could have been." He believes it was particularly important not to "kiddify" the film, not to go overboard on merchandise for children. "For our part, we have always maintained that The Lord of the Rings is not a children’s book."

It is clear that to a great extent the books have "ridden on the back" of New Line’s enormous global marketing campaign, though the artistic attitude of New Line Films has also had its part to play in keeping the book centre stage. From the start they never tried to disguise the book that lay behind the film. Says Brawn: "In virtually every press article, the director Peter Jackson has stressed that the film was his interpretation of the book, and he stressed that everyone behind the film "loved the book", and it shows."

Sales of Tolkien, including the tie-in titles, finally started to tail off a little around Easter this year, though it was a brief hiatus. Early August saw the UK DVD and video release of "The Fellowship of the Ring" (attended by a £2m marketing campaign), with sales of two million in the first week. According to Jason Ritchie, The Bookseller’s charts manager, all the Tolkien backlist showed sales rises at this time. And, he says, "It’s interesting to note that both parts two and three - "The Two Towers" and "The Return of the King" - are now showing big sales increases as people move on in the trilogy".

Saturation point?

Brawn will admit to wondering at times if "there are enough people left", but he feels confident that this year should be as good as last. Published on 6th November, the tie-in list for "The Two Towers" has again been limited to four new, or improved, titles. Brian Sibley’s "The Making of The Lord of the Rings" movie guide has doubled in size to 200 pages, boasts more than 500 illustrations, and, it is claimed, "gets much more under the skin of the film". There is a "beefier" "Two Towers Visual Companion" by Jude Fisher (a.k.a. Voyager publisher Jane Johnson), and two new tie-ins aimed at children (though HC is keen to stress that no age restrictions apply): "The Two Towers Photo Guide" and "The Two Towers Creatures Guide".

As far as tie-ins of the novel itself are concerned, HC is going "more the hardback route this time", having been surprised by the number of hardcover editions of The Lord of the Rings it sold last year (they ran out before Christmas). In response to requests from booksellers, HC will be issuing a hardback tie-in edition - "one way of keeping things fresh", says Brawn.

Making a splash

One interesting new promotional development this year is the appointment of Cow PR to work on a big launch event for the tie-in titles. "We wanted to make a bit more noise about this year’s tie-ins, so with Cow we’ve put together a big London event designed to appeal to as wide a spectrum of people as possible - diehard fans, as well as kids," Barry Clark says.

The event will take place at Waterstone’s in Piccadilly on publication day, Wednesday 6th November. "It will be an exciting event with things happening on every floor of the store," says Jessica Livingstone of Cow Activities being finalized include a celebrity appearance, and "we are working with the film’s UK distributor to try to get some exclusive footage from the new film".

HarperCollins is also hoping for an exclusive stills exhibition of never-before-seen artwork. There will be giveaway lithographs by Alan Lee available on that day only, and there will also be author talks and signings by Jude Fisher and Brian Sibley. For young people, there will be a "creatures corner" with games consoles featuring the new Lord of the Rings game, as well as face painting and other childrens activities. "The whole day is themed like a walk into Middle Earth," Ms Livingstone says. Waterstone’s has described it as one of their two major events for the season.

So what is it all costing? The marketing spend for "The Lord of the Rings" tie-in publishing last year was, according to Clark, "easily HarperCollins" biggest of the year" (he would not be drawn on the figures). However, he points out that the 2002 spend is very similar, and that the figure represents only 1% of revenue. If you reckon on the oft-quoted 3% of revenue to maintain your position and 5% to grow it, then this is a very cost-effective campaign indeed."

With the fanfare surrounding the 2001, 2002 and 2003 film releases, one might think that 2004 would present a promotional vacuum. Not a bit of it: 2004 will be the 50th anniversary of the first publication of The Lord of the Rings. This will present different marketing challenges. "The film is all about bringing new people to the book," says Clark. "We see the 50th anniversary as a time to address Tolkien aficionados and enthusiasts." It will be an opportunity, Brawn adds, "to reclaim The Lord of the Rings as a literary property".

Though the impact of the film on sales looks set to be felt for a good while yet, Tolkien is ultimately a publishing story rather than a film story. The Lord of the Rings has been selling for 50 years, and it will remain in copyright for several decades to come. It is crucial, therefore, that in the midst of the film fever the long-term value of the brand is maintained.

Always another generation

Brawn claims he was misrepresented in the aforementioned "Independent" article. (He is reported to have said: "We and the Tolkien family are worried that there is genuine risk of burnout, that at the end of it, there will be nobody left to read this book. Once every household has a copy of the book, there’s nobody left to sell it to.") He tells The Bookseller:

"Each generation of Tolkien readers provides champions for the next generation. There is no reason to be that the books will have burned out, even though sales may not reach the dizzy heights of these years again." Apart from anything else, the conclusion of the film cycle will provide HC with opportunity to focus on Tolkien’s other titles for which the films will doubtless have generated renewed appetite.

And with the works of C S Lewis also in his HC estates portfolio, Brawn and his team will have opportunity to rest on their laurels: 2005 is expected to bring the release of "the next big thing" - a film version of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" from C S Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. There are seven books in that series.

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