Go back to Special Reports Archives

December 12, 2000 - January 10, 2001

1-10-01 Latest News

New Line Cinema Gives 'Rings' Trilogy A Big Push on Web for Obsessive Fans
Xoanon @ 11:12 am EST

From: The Wall Street Journal

New Line Cinema Gives 'Rings' Trilogy
A Big Push on Web for Obsessive Fans


The first installment in New Line Cinema's "Lord of the Rings" film trilogy won't hit theaters until December. But this Friday, the studio's "Rings" Web site will begin serving up behind-the-scenes tidbits such as how makeup artists glued hair on the feet of the movie's mythical Hobbits.

It's a resource that only the most obsessive fans of the J.R.R. Tolkien fantasy saga are ever likely to plumb thoroughly -- and they'll get plenty of time to try. The new, more elaborate version of the site is the center of a five-year online promotional push that may represent the most ambitious Web effort yet by a Hollywood studio. With military precision, New Line plans to roll out a stream of information on the making of the "Rings" movies several times a week from now in to 2004, when all three movies will have been released.

The goal is to have "new stuff happening constantly, so [Web users] will want to keep coming back," says Joe Nimziki, president of theatrical marketing for New Line, a unit of Time Warner Inc. The site's content will be available in 10 foreign languages, including Finnish, Japanese and Swedish.

The online push for "The Lord of the Rings" series may be a sign of where Hollywood is going in its quest to exploit the Internet. Film Web promotions have largely been limited to sweepstakes, basic games and publicity photos. No site thus far has been able to match the online success of 1999's "The Blair Witch Project," which managed to create hype with a series of mysterious online teasers.

Hoping to do the same, some filmmakers are starting to view their Web efforts as long-term projects that can stoke interest in films and their tie-ins long before -- and after -- they hit theaters. Starwars.com (starwars.com), for one, continues to draw hundreds of thousands of monthly users.

For the coming film "Tomcats," Revolution Studios started an online contest, in which users would vote on casting extras, a year before its scheduled release this spring. Threshold Entertainment, which owns online entertainment site TheThreshold.com (thethreshold.com), plans to launch Internet prequel episodes more than a year in advance of a planned animated film titled "Food Fight."

But few such efforts will be as high profile, or high stakes, as New Line's project for the "Rings" epic, which follows the quest of a band of adventurers to destroy a magic ring sought by a powerful evil lord. The studio -- which declines to discuss its online expenses but says partner companies are sharing them --chose to film all three "Rings" movies in one marathon shoot in New Zealand. Though the productions are on schedule, the projected cost of the effects-rich trilogy is now at $270 million, up from earlier estimates of about $180 million. The films will be released in the holiday seasons of 2001, 2002 and 2003.

The launch of the new version of the site (lordoftherings.net) was carefully timed to coincide with the U.S. debut of the theatrical trailer on Friday. (The trailer won't be shown online until Jan. 19, after it has been shown in other theaters around the world.)

Online interest in the films is already ferocious. New Line launched the first version of the site in May 1999 and soon was providing basic production facts as well as message boards and community sites for "Rings" fans. Today, Tolkien aficionados have on their own created about 400 Internet destinations, flooding the Web with information including grammatical deconstructions of the novels' made-up languages and weather conditions at New Zealand airports. An online preview trailer from New Line drew about 1.7 million downloads in 24 hours in April, and more than 35,000 people have joined online clubs that users set up using the studio's Web site.

The challenge for the new version is to "expand the audience while respecting the core audience," says Bob Friedman, co-chairman of world-wide marketing for New Line. The updated site is designed to satisfy both those who are looking for the basics on "Rings" stars like Liv Tyler and Elijah Wood, and for Tolkien worshippers who require a steady diet of much more detailed information.

Michael Regina, a Montreal college student who edits news on TheOneRing.net (theonering.net), says he plans to be sitting at his basement computer when the new online material goes live at 12:01 a.m. Pacific time on Friday, so he can rush to post summaries and comments. He has been getting more than a hundred e-mails a day about the new trailer and site.

The current site already gets about 100,000 visitors a month, according to Jupiter Media Metrix, an Internet research firm. But so far they tend to skew toward middle-aged men, with relatively few female users. To reach new fans, the studio has worked closely with the online arm of E! Entertainment Television, which has a following among women. New Line has also forged an alliance with software firm RealNetworks Inc., which will create a button on its popular Web video player that guides users directly to a "Rings" Web channel. The studio also hopes to work with the American Film Institute on a Web-based educational curriculum built largely around the making of the trilogy.

The new version of the "Rings" Web site will include interviews with people who worked behind the scenes, such as a production worker who helped make boulders for the set and a sculptor who will discuss stylistic differences in the furniture used by the Elf and Dwarf characters. New Line will also offer features accessible only to people who download a special "Rings" browser.

The site will build up its trove of information gradually. It will begin with descriptions of the film's crew, listing the names of every member, right down to the employees who handled the horses. Eventually, it will include interviews and videos of nearly every crew and cast member.

The site will also explain the construction of the Hobbits' village and how actors were transformed into Hobbits, from the application of foot hair to the making of their pointy Latex ears. Later, an interactive map of the story's setting, Middle-earth, will highlight sections dedicated to other races in Tolkien's fantasy world and their home regions.

The logistics for gathering such material were complex. Much of the online video comes from two documentary film crews that haunted the set for months. New Line's senior vice president of world-wide interactive marketing and business development, Gordon Paddison, posted his own digital cameraman to New Zealand to gather three weeks of Web-only video footage. The New Line staff sifted through boxes of videotapes, eventually editing them down to brief digital segments. Mr. Paddison himself estimates he sat through about 40 to 50 hours of "Rings"-related video.

To create foreign-language versions of the site, New Line worked with its overseas distributors to translate some 70 pages of text. Mr. Paddison and his three-person staff regularly get late-night calls from their partners overseas about problems such as rendering the unique "Lord of the Rings" logo font into other languages. In one early setback, some distributors' workers accidentally threw out CD-ROMs containing graphics for their sites; future updates will be sent via e-mail.

Tolkien Profile on Ovation
Xoanon @ 10:15 am EST

From: Gary

I caught a superb program this morning on the Ovation network that other readers of this site may want to know about. It was shown this morning from 8-9 am EST, and will be shown again this afternoon (1/10/01) from 3-4 EST, and tonight at 8 pm EST. Future showtimes are:

Tuesday, January 16, 2001 - 9:00:00 PM
Wednesday, January 17, 2001 - 1:00:00 AM
Thursday, January 18, 2001 - 1:00:00 PM

It was billed as part of a series called "Masters of Children's Literature" so I didn't have very high hopes for it. But it covered all the bases. Lots of interview footage of Tolkien himself, his son Christopher, Alan Lee, Humphrey Carpenter, Tolkien's publisher George Unwin (among the very first to read "The Hobbit" -- when he was 10, from Tolkien's typed manuscript!), and many others. The movie wasn't mentioned (this program was dated 1998), but it presents Tolkien's life and all of his work (and not just "The Hobbit," as I'd suspected) very fully. I've been following Tolkien since 1965, and I saw things here I hadn't seen anywhere else. I particularly treasure one bit of footage: a close-up of Tolkien's hand as he inscribed one of his books, in Elvish.

Ovation Website

1-07-01 Latest News

Weekly Cast Watch: Jan 7-13
Xoanon @ 2:38 pm EST

Sunday, January 7

Christopher Lee (Saruman) The Creeping Flesh PLEX
Sean Astin (Sam) Icebreaker AMAXE

Monday, January 8

Brad Dourif (Wormtongue) Nightwatch Sky MovieMax UK
Cate Blanchett (Galadriel) Paradise Road Channel 4 UK & Pushing Tin HBOE
Sean Astin (Sam) Kimbery MAXE2

Tuesday, January 9

Ian McKellen (Gandalf) X-Men TVND18
Brad Dourif (Wormtongue) Ragtime Carlton Cinema UK
Christopher Lee (Saruman) The Crimson Cult FLIX
Sean Bean (Boromir) Airborne TMN

Wednesday, January 10

Viggo Mortensenhttp://theonering.net/movie/cast/mortensen.html (Aragorn) The Thin Red Line MAX & The Portrait of a Lady SHOW3 & Witness MAXS
Ian Holm (Bilbo) eXistenZ TMC2P
Hugo Weaving (Elrond) The Matrix MAX
Miranda Otto (Eowyn) The Thin Red Line MAX
Elijah Wood (Frodo) Paradise KFTY
Cate Blanchett (Galadriel) An Ideal Husband STARZ5 & Elizabeth SHOW3P
Orlando Bloom (Legolas) Wilde SHOW3
Sean Astin (Sam) Icebreaker ACMAX & Toy Soldiers THMAX
Bernard Hill (Theoden) Mountains of the Moon TRUE
Brad Dourif (Wormtongue) Color of Night HBOSIG & Hidden Agenda TMC2
Christopher Lee (Saruman) Dracula Has Risen from the Grave Sky Cinema UK
Ian McKellen (Gandalf) Apt Pupil Sky Premier UK

Thursday, January 11

Viggo Mortensenhttp://theonering.net/movie/cast/mortensen.html (Aragorn) The Passion of Darkly Noon MAX
Ian Holm (Biblo) Time Bandits BRAVO
Sean Bean (Boromir) Ronin TMC
John Rhys-Davies (Gimli) Cyborg Cop KAKW & The Company ITV UK
Sean Astin (Sam) The War of the Roses WSYT & The BRAT Patrol Disney Channel UK
Christopher Lee (Saruman) Return From Witch Mountain ENCORE
Sean Bean (Boromir) When Saturday Comes Channel 5 UK & Ronin TMCE

Friday, January 12

Viggo Mortensenhttp://theonering.net/movie/cast/mortensen.html (Aragorn) Albino Alligator STARZ5 & The Young Americans ENCACT
Ian McKellen (Gandalf) Last Action Hero TBS
Christopher Lee (Saruman) Sleepy Hollow SHOWDT

Saturday, January 13

Viggo Mortensenhttp://theonering.net/movie/cast/mortensen.html (Aragorn) The Crew FX & Young Guns II WCGV
Ian Holm (Bilbo) The Fifth Element WABC 7 & Mary Shelley's Frankenstein TNT
Sean Bean (Boromir) Stormy Monday WPGH
Hugo Weaving (Elrond) The Interview MYSTERY
Elijah Wood (Frodo) Internal Affairs WPIX 11
John Rhys-Davies (Gimli) Perry Mason: The Case of the Fatal Framing KVUE & King Solomon's Mines KTUL & Double-O-Kid SHOW
Paul Sutera (Lotho) The Brady Bunch Movie HBOPL
Sean Astin (Sam) Teresa's Tattoo WRGT & Encino Man KXTULP & Icebreaker AMAXE
Christopher Lee (Saruman) Police Academy 7: Mission to Moscow TMC & Safari 3000 SHOWX & The Curse of Frankenstein AMC & The Gorgon Sky Cinema UK
Bernard Hill (Theoden) The Bounty RCN
Brad Dourif (Wormtongue) Amos & Andrew TMC2 & Ragtime WNDY & Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones TRUE

1-02-01 Latest News

Cast Watch: January 2-6
Xoanon @ 5:47 pm EST

Tuesday, January 2

Liv Tyler (Arwen) Armageddon Sky Premier UK
Hugo Weaivng (Elrond) The Matrix AMAXE
Ian Holm (Bilbo) Henry V IFC
Sean Astin (Sam) Icebreaker AMAXE
Viggo Mortensenhttp://theonering.net/movie/cast/mortensen.html (Aragorn) A Walk on the Moon TMN

Wednesday, January 3

John Rhys-Davies (Gimli) Double-O-Kid SHOXE
Liv Tyler (Arwen) Stealing Beauty RC
Viggo Mortensenhttp://theonering.net/movie/cast/mortensen.html (Aragorn) The Passion of Darkly Noon SHOE-2

Thursday, January 4

Christopher Lee (Saruman) Safari 3000 SHOXE
Ian McKellen (Gandalf) Gods & Monsters SDC & Restoration ENC
Sean Astin (Sam) Toy Soldiers TMAXE
Sean Bean (Boromir) Airborne TMN

Friday, January 5

Viggo Mortensenhttp://theonering.net/movie/cast/mortensen.html (Aragorn) The Thin Red Line ACMAXP & The Portrait of a Lady SHOW3P & A Walk on the Moon TMN
Ian Holm (Biblo) eXistenZ TMC2 & Private Lies SHOE
Hugo Weaving (Elrond) The Matrix MAXS
Ian McKellen (Galdalf) X-Men TVNMMA & Gods and Monsters SUNDAEP
John Rhys-Davies (Gimli) King Solomon's Mines WFXG & The Unnamable II: The Statement of Randolph Carter TMCE
Sean Astin (Sam) Dish Dogs WVTV
Christopher Lee (Saruman) Police Academy 7: Mission to Moscow TMC & Private's Progress SHOWDT & Scott of the Antarctic WUSF

Saturday, January 6

Viggo Mortensenhttp://theonering.net/movie/cast/mortensen.html (Aragorn) The Passion of Darkly Noon SHOW2 & The Young Americans ENCACT & Young Guns II WPIX 11
Liv Tyler (Arwen) Cookie's Fortune MAXS & Inventing the Abbotts WJCL
Ian Holm (Bilbo) The Madness of King George BRAVOP
Elijah Wood (Frodo) The Faculty SHOWX & The Good Son FX
Cate Blanchett (Galadriel) An Ideal Husband STARZ5
John Rhys-Davies (Gimli) Cyborg Cop KWBA & Canvas TMN
Orlando Bloom (Legolas) Wilde SHOW3
Bruce Spense (Mouth or Sauron) Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome WBFS
Sean Astin (Sam) Teresa's Tattoo WNDY & Toy Soldiers STARE
Christopher Lee (Saruman) Sleepy Hollow SHOW & The Last Unicorn STARZ4 & Return From Witch Mountain ENCORE
Brad Dourif (Wormtongue) Death Machine XUPN2 & Mississippi Burning KSWB & Ragtime KFBT
Ian McKellen (Gandalf) X-Men VC1

1-01-01 Latest News

Happy New Year!
Tookish @ 3:14 pm EST

On our behalf we'd like to thank you for making this an amazing year for us and Tolkien on the internet. If you're home tonight or surfing around on 1/1/01 I thought I'd put together a few links recapping some amazing stories and scenes for your pleasure.

You might start with good ole Harry's reports from his trip to see the last week of LotR filming, then move on to check out our HUGE treasure trove of pictures and images from the films. Or here's quick access to headlines and articles of recent and past movie news. You also might like the Official Peter Jackson fan club website or our very own (soon to be updated) LotR movie FAQ.

We know 2001 will end with a bang, and we hope the rest of the year is good to you too!

12-22-00 Latest News

More on the Shadowfax Breed... for the Record!
Tookish @ 8:15 pm EST

For anyone who missed it, we posted a link to the International Andalusian and Lusitano Horse Association website to give you all the details you ever wanted to know about the breed of horse playing Shadowfax. Thanks to those of you who sent in corrections regarding our news last week, in which we misreported the details concerning Shadowfax' breed.

12-17-00 Latest News

Weekly Cast Watch: Dec 17-23
Xoanon @ 10:45 pm EST

Sunday, December 17

Monday, December 18

Liv Tyler (Arwen) Armageddon Sky Premier UK
Viggo Mortensenhttp://theonering.net/movie/cast/mortensen.html (Aragorn) Texas Chainsaw Massacre III Bravo UK

Tuesday, December 19

Ian Holm (Biblo) Naked Lunch Sky Cinema UK & eXistenZ FilmFour UK

Wednesday, December 20

Viggo Mortensenhttp://theonering.net/movie/cast/mortensen.html (Aragorn) The Thin Red Line HBOPL & American Yakuza SHOWX & Texas Chainsaw Massacre III Bravo UK
Sean Bean (Boromir) Stormy Monday K13VC
Miranda Otto (Eowyn) The Thin Red Line HBOPL
Ian McKellen (Gandalf) Gods and Monsters SHOWDT & Rasputin HBOPL & Windmills of the Gods IFRC1
Andy Serkis (Gollum) Topsy-Turvy MOMAXP
Sean Astin (Sam) Dish Dogs WTCN
Brad Dourif (Wormtongue) Amos & Andrew SHOW
Christopher Lee (Saruman) Gremlins 2: The New Batch Sky MovieMax UK

Thursday, December 21

Viggo Mortensenhttp://theonering.net/movie/cast/mortensen.html (Aragorn) 28 Days JDVC1 & The Passion of Darkly Noon HBOPL & Boiling Point BETM
Sean Bean (Boromir) Airborne ACMAX & Jacob TNTI
Hugo Weaving (Elrond) The Matrix MOMAX
Elijah Wood (Frodo) Paradise KNSO & Avalon STARZ5
Andy Serkis (Gollum) Among Giants HBOSIG
Sean Astin (Sam) Encino Man WFFT & Toy Soldiers BETM
Christopher Lee (Saruman) Return From Witch Mountain STARZ4
Ian McKellen (Gandalf) Amy Foster Sky Premier UK

Friday, December 22

Karl Urbanhttp://theonering.net/movie/cast/urban.html (Eomer) Heaven STARZ5
Elijah Wood (Frodo) The Good Son FX
Paul Sutera (Lotho) The Brady Bunch Movie HBOF
Christopher Lee (Saruman) The Land of Faraway SCIFI & Safari 3000 FLIX & Horror Express WSPYLP
Bernard Hill (Theoden) True Crime MAXS
Brad Dourif (Wormtongue) Death Machine KTXA Color of Night MOMAX

Saturday, December 23

Viggo Mortensenhttp://theonering.net/movie/cast/mortensen.html (Aragorn) Young Guns II KTVF
Liv Tyler (Arwen) Stealing Beauty RCN
Ian Holm (Bilbo) Hamlet WJWB & Dance With a Stranger SUNDAE & Mary, Queen of Scots RCN
Elijah Wood (Frodo) The Faculty SHOW3
John Rhys-Davies (Gimli) Body Armor FX & Cyborg Cop WWHO & King Solomon's Mines WMAZ & King Solomon's Mines Sky MovieMax UK & Britannic ITV UK & King Solomon's Mines MovieMax UK
Bruce Spense (Mouth of Sauron) Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome KAKW
Sean Astin (Sam) Rudy TNT & Staying Together SHOW3
Christopher Lee (Saruman) The Mummy AMC & Scott of the Antarctic A&E
Bernard Hill (Theoden) William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream MOMAX & Gandhi KIXE
Brad Dourif (Wormtongue) Urban Legend SHOWX & Child's Play 2 WNJU 47 & Nightwatch Sky MovieMax UK
Hugo Weaving (Elrond) The Matrix Sky Premier UK

12-12-00 Latest News

Tehanu @ 5:37 am EST

Thanks to MN, we have this article by Tom Cardy in tonight's Evening Post from Wellington.

"It's a question that would stump even Gandalf. Can people take photographs of film sets for The Lord Of The Rings without permission? The hush-hush Lord of the Rings project last week erected a sign outside the entrance to its film set in Peterkin St, Taita, warning people against taking photographs or video-tape footage. Despite being fenced off, much of the set can be clearly seen from the street. The sign comes more than a year after several newspapers, including The Evening Post, began publishing photographs of sets. Many Lord Of The Rings fans have also taken photographs and video footage which they display on Internet websites. The signs says people can't take photographs or video footage as "the set and costumes-props are valuable copyright works". It also warns that the film company Three Foot Six, which is making The Lord Of The Rings, could expose any film and erase any video footage. John Terry of patent and trade mark attorneys Baldwin Shelston Waters in Wellington said the sign is correct if someone set foot on the property. But if the photographs or videotape was taken while a person stayed on a public space the sign was only partly correct. Under the Copyright Act, the public would infringe copyright if photographs or video footage was taken of costumes, props and "mobile structures". However, most sets were fixed structures so were defined as buildings, Mr Terry said. The public is allowed to take photographs or video footage of buildings without infringing copyright, so long as it's taken from a public space.

Mr Terry said even if the photographs or video footage were taken of costumes or props, no one had to hand over film or videotape. "They can't just walk up and take your camera away from you. That's basically theft. What they would have to do in that situation is bring a [legal] action against you for copyright infringement and get a court order that you deliver up your camera."

Andrea Jane and Malcolm Webb of law firm Bell Gully said photographs or video footage that were unclear, or taken from a long distance, were not likely to infringe copyright. Also, while an elaborate set or costume may be protected by copyright, a shed or basic garment probably wouldn't be, they said.

But what about media organisations? Dan Parker and Hannah Dew at law firm Phillips Fox in Wellington said in their view The Evening Post was entitled to take photographs of the set from outside the barrier fence. The costumes, props and set were likely to be protected by copyright, they said. However, The Post could publish photographs because it was reporting The Lord Of The Rings sets as a current event."

Right. I think secretly everyone knew that.

Go back to Special Reports Archives