Why are the movies being made?
For many years, fans across the world have dreamed of the day when The Lord of the Rings trilogy could be brought to life on the screen. Up until the present time, the technology needed to make film versions of J. R. R. Tolkiens massive epic novels simply did not exist. Now, with the recent amazing advances in computer technology in the movie industry, it is entirely possible to visually recreate Tolkiens landscapes, locations, and creatures for the screen. With the proven power of the source material, the limitless possibilities offered by computer technology, and the sheer amount of talent amassed for the project, it is abundantly clear that there has never been a better time than the present to bring these stories to life. And the fact that the studios financing the films are almost assured a wealth of profit from both the movies themselves and promotional tie-ins doesnt hurt, either.
Peter Jackson, commonly referred to as "PJ" by fans, is in control of the three movies. Jackson is a New Zealander whose previous films include The Frighteners, Dead Alive, and Heavenly Creatures. He was the recipient of a London Critics Circle Award as Director of the Year in 1996 for his work on Heavenly Creatures.
How is the director controlling such a huge project?
Instead of micromanaging the project and overseeing every small detail, Jackson has delegated some of the responsibility to others, although he does still have the final say. The three movies are not being shot in sequence, one after another, but are instead being filmed at the same time. This method of shooting the movies will save both time and money in the long run. Jackson is controlling the main unit for filming, and full second and third units are also working on various scenes in different locations. Jackson maintains control of the other two units via satellite videoconference.
What company is producing?
Peter Jacksons Wingnut Films Limited is producing the movies, and New Line Cinema is financing them. New Line will also be in charge of distribution.
Who adapted the books into a script?
Peter Jackson himself turned the books into a screenplay, in collaboration with Frances Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Stephen Sinclair. Jackson and Walsh shared an Oscar® nomination for Best Original Screenplay for 1994s Heavenly Creatures.
Why isn't J.R.R. Tolkien's son, Christopher Tolkien, involved in the film project?
The members of the Tolkien estate have stated repeatedly that they do not wish to be involved with the film project, although they have not released to the public any specific reasons why they made this choice. The merchandising rights belong to Saul Zaentz Company, so the Tolkien estate has no control over movie-related merchandise.
Whos playing whom?
Jackson has assembled one of the best and most promising ensemble casts in years to help bring his vision of the trilogy to life on the screen. The actors range from highly respected Oscar® nominees to well-known character actors, with a few unknowns thrown in for good measure. A list of the confirmed cast members so far:
Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins
What are they going to change?
All evidence points to the fact that Peter Jackson and collaborators are trying to stick as closely as possible to Tolkiens original storyline in their film adaptation. We do know that the love story between Arwen and Aragorn will be beefed up for dramatic effect, which in turn makes it necessary for the role of Arwen to be expanded as well (though she will not be a member of the Fellowship, as has been rumored). The death of Boromir will be moved from the beginning of The Two Towers to the ending of The Fellowship of the Ring. Saurons active involvement will be increased so that he will have more of a presence in the movies, a requirement for the visual impact that is provided by a tangible villain. Reports and some early artwork, however, indicate that the increased presence of Sauron will be an advantage to the film, not a drawback. The character of Rosie will be expanded slightly, in order to allow us to see the origins of her relationship with Sam before his departure from the Shire. There will be several additional changes that will be necessary for the dramatic structure of the films; for example, The Two Towers will intercut back and forth between the adventures of Sam and Frodo and the happenings with the other characters in various locations, instead of being divided down the middle like the structure of the novels. Also, events that were told through flashbacks in the books will have to be told visually in the movies, such as the defeat of Sauron during the Second Age, Isildurs death, Gollums history with the Ring, and Gandalfs imprisonment by Saruman at Isengard. The important thing to remember is that literature and film are two entirely different mediums of storytelling, and that changes are inevitable and necessary in order to translate the written word properly to the structure and flow of film.
What are they going to leave out?
Since there is no possible way to bring every single element of the novels to life in the films, mostly due to time constraints, some aspects and characters that are not crucial to the advancement of the story will have to be left out of the adaptations. Jackson has assured fans that any characters removed from the story will be "clean lifts," not merges with other characters. One of the biggest (and most controversial) changes will be the absence of Tom Bombadil, an understandable omission since the first film will have plenty of other characters and plot elements to keep the story going. Jackson has also stated that the journey of the hobbits to Rivendell at the beginning of the novels will be made briefer to tighten up the flow of the story, but not entirely omitted. Early indications also point to the fact that the songs found in the novels will not be used in the films.
What styles and themes will be emphasized?
Jackson himself says it best: "The intention is to make it neither childish, nor overly dark ... a good solid action adventure with intelligence and depth." The goal is to create a movie with a historical Braveheart-type feel that has the elements and visual magic of a great fantasy story, without going overboard in the mumbo-jumbo department. He also says that he is interested in the friendship and self-sacrifice themes of the novel, as well as the mortality vs. immortality angle.
Which languages will be used?
Peter Jackson has stated that all of the languages found in the books will be represented in the film trilogy. Elvish will apparently play a substantial role, with English subtitles being used for audiences who arent fluent in that particular language. Expert linguists from around the world have been hired to help ensure that the proper pronunciation is used.
To what extent will the dialogue from the novel be kept?
Reportedly, much of Tolkiens original dialogue from the novels has been adapted word-for-word in the screenplays. The most famous quotes are sure to make an appearance in the screen version.
Will Peter Jackson recount the events of the Hobbit?
There is no definite information about plans for incorporating the story of The Hobbit in The Lord of the Rings films. However, the first film in the trilogy will apparently feature flashbacks that will familiarize audiences with the history of the Ring, and it is safe to assume that any flashbacks of this type will include a summary of the story of The Hobbit. Exposition may also be used; for example, Gandalf could briefly recount Bilbos adventures to Frodoor to the Council at Rivendell, thereby explaining that chapter in the Rings history to audiences. Either way, we can safely assume that Jackson and company will make sure that viewers are kept up to speed with the story of the Ring.
Will the movies measure up to the books?
The film version is an adaptation of the trilogy, not a literal word-for-word translation, and it will be difficult to achieve a balance that satisfies diehard fans of the trilogy as well as audience members who are not familiar with Tolkien's written word. Jackson said it best in his interview with Ain't It Cool News: "You shouldn't think of these movies as being The Lord of the Rings. The Lord of the Rings is, and always will be, a wonderful book - one of the greatest ever written. Any films will only ever be an interpretation of the book. In this case my interpretation." Many Tolkien purists will need to take these words to heart and see the films with an open mind in order to enjoy them.
What type of music will be used?
Jackson has stated that the musical score will be orchestral and classical sounding, having a "Celtic feel without being Celtic." Early reports indicated that Polish composer Wojciech Kilar, most popular for his work on Bram Stokers Dracula, or James Horner, the Oscar®-winning composer of Braveheart and Titanic, were the top contenders for the job of scoring the movies, but more recent news has confirmed that Howard Shore will write the musical scores for all three films in the trilogy. Shore's filmography as a composer includes The Cell, Se7en, Ed Wood, Mrs. Doubtfire, The Silence of the Lambs, and many other films in a wide variety of genres. Canadian singer Loreena McKennitt was reportedly contacted about working on the film music as well, but it has also recently been confirmed that she will not be involved with the movies. Jackson has indicated that no pre-existing Lord of the Rings music will be used, so that the soundtrack will be completely new and unique.
Who is doing the soundtrack?
The general assumption is that any soundtracks released will contain only that music which is used in the actual films, and that most or all of it will be orchestral. There has been speculation that a vocal soundtrack may be released, featuring songs that do not come into play in the movies themselves, but as of yet there is no definite word regarding plans for a soundtrack of this nature.
How will the special effects be done?
WETA Limited, a special effects company owned by Peter Jackson, will be producing all of the visual effects for the films. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy will contain approximately 1200 special effects shots, more than any other film in history. Many of the differences in sizes between major characters will be achieved through the use of special effects, while others will rely on film tricks such as forced perspective. In many cases, two sets are constructed, each with identical objects in different sizes. Gollum, a pivotal character in the story, will be completely computer-generated. In addition, special effects technology will be used to increase the scope of the films as a whole, from epic locales to stunning battle sequences. Advance word indicates that the software developed by WETA specifically for use in the Lord of the Rings films is capable of astounding results. Look for some heavy comparisons between WETAs work on these movies and the work done by that other special effects company, owned by that other famous director, for those other effects-heavy big-budget films.
What accents will be used?
Hobbits will reportedly speak in an English accent, leaning towards a rural West-counties dialect. Indications also point to the fact that Hobbits from different parts of the Shire will have their own distinct way of speaking. Dwarves will use more of a Cockney English accent, while the older characters, such as Gandalf, Theoden, and Denethor, will speak in a formal British manner, using much of the same type of language that Tolkien ascribed to them. Elves will have a slight Irish lilt and will also speak in their native tongue from time to time, and the Men in the movies will speak with an American accent.
How will the hobbits be made to look smaller when they are on horseback?
Camera trickery will play a large part in making the hobbits look small in proportion to the horses. For horseback scenes, the hobbit actors will ride either extremely large horses or fake horses. For some shots, the horses will be real, but the hobbits themselves will be fake. When edited together, these shots will look seamless and the hobbits will appear to be appropriately small.
What will hobbits look like?
By all accounts, hobbits will look very much like they were described in the original novels. The hobbit actors wear prosthetic, hairy feet made out of latex. Some reports indicate that their facial features will be slightly altered with the help of visual effects to give them a unique look, specifically eyes that are a little larger than normal. They will be reduced in height through a combination of CGI effects, specially produced sets, and good old-fashioned camera trickery.
What will elves look like?
The facial features of actors portraying Elves will reportedly be subtly manipulated to give the audience the impression that they are not looking at humans, but rather a similar yet unique type of being. A combination of makeup and CGI will add a soft glow to their appearance. Prosthetic ears will also be used to increase this effect. The goal, apparently, is to create a race of creatures that are human-like but with an otherworldly quality to their overall appearance.
What will dwarves look like?
Some of the Dwarves in the films, especially the larger roles such as Gimli, will be played by regular-sized actors who will then be shrunk digitally using the same technology that will shrink the actors playing hobbits, while others will be played by real-life dwarves.
What will orcs look like?
According to reports, Moria orcs will have greenish, scaly skin, while the Uruk-Hai orcs will be black and smooth-skinned. Moria orc armor consists of leather and chainmail, and will have a spiky look. Orc facial features will be created through the use of both prosthetics and computer effects.
What about Gollum?
Gollum will be brought to life completely by a combination of computer animation and motion capture technology. The programs designed by the special effects team to animate Gollum will give him realistic bone structure, muscle movement based on actual organic tissue, and flesh-like skin, so that he will not have an unrealistic, computer-generated look. Peter Jackson has stated that his goal with Gollum is to create a fully realized character who elicits a feeling of pity from the audience, and the inner conflict between Smeagol and Gollum will come into play. The casting team searched long and hard for an actor who could provide Gollum with a voice that ranges from harsh and menacing to calm and melancholy. Character actor Andy Serkis, largely unknown up until now, ended up getting the part. Serkis can be seen in the 1999 Academy Award®-winning film Topsy-Turvy, as well as in a few other small roles in recent movies. The exact details of Gollums appearance have not become available yet, but well keep you updated on any further developments.
How will Sauron be portrayed?
Since it is one of the most well-guarded secrets on The Lord of the Rings production, Jackson and crew have not released any definite details about the portrayal of Sauron, only stating that the character will take on a more active role in order to give the audience a tangible villain. Its a very safe bet that he will actually appear onscreen with the aid of visual effects, and that Jacksons design team will have cooked up a memorable and truly frightening villain for us to enjoy. Recent information has confirmed that Sauron will be portrayed by a human actor in the flashbacks to the Last Alliance, and a glimpse of the character design from these scenes can be spotted in the first Fellowship of the Ring trailer.
How will the Balrog be portrayed?
Another well-kept secret by Jackson and company, the Balrog did make an appearance in the Cannes footage. The creature will be entirely computer-generated, and since well-known Tolkien artist John Howe is working on concept art for the films, the creature will more than likely resemble his artistic interpretation, with pincer-like horns and, yes, wings! In addition, Jackson stated in an early interview that the first Balrog designs did in fact have wings..
How will the nine Nazgul be depicted?
The Nazgul will be portrayed by real actors with the help of makeup and visual effects. They will apparently have a major role in the films, as much so as in the books, but it isnt clear at this point whether we will see any background regarding their fall into Saurons grasp. Several glimpses of the Nazgul in costume can be seen in the downloadable preview teaser trailer. Several glimpses of the Nazgul in costume can be seen in the downloadable teasers and trailer (available here: http://www.lordoftherings.net/previews). There is no information at this point regarding the film version of the Nazguls winged steeds.
What about Ents?
It is now confirmed that Ents will in fact play a role in the movies, and will be created fully by WETA's digital effects team. According to TheOneRing.net spy Galadriel, Ents will "look more tree-like than human-being-like but somewhat transform from tree into walking being." In Jackson's original interview with Ain't It Cool News, he stated that the films would contain scenes of the Ents storming Isengard. In addition, John Rhys-Davies, who portrays Gimli in the films, will also provide the voice of Treebeard.
How is Shelob being created?
E!Online's "Insider" column reports that "New Zealand wildlife is a little short on giant spiders, so Shelob will be completely computer generated. Elijah Wood (Frodo) and Sean Astin (Sam) performed their scenes with the evil eight-legger against a blue screen." No information has been made public regarding the actual character design of Shelob, however.
What about costuming?
The costume designer for the trilogy is Ngila Dickson, whose previous credits include Peter Jacksons 1994 film Heavenly Creatures, as well as the popular television series "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys" and "Xena: Warrior Princess." Since the movies are set in a fantasy world, costumes will play a large part in the overall look and feel of the films themselves, so a lot of time, money, and effort will go into their production. The costumes will be a blend of Tolkiens own descriptions where available, patterns influenced by actual historical periods (Renaissance, Viking, medieval, and so forth), and good old fashioned imaginative design. According to E!Online's On Location reporter John Forde, "Dickson's costumes have a notable lack of fussiness and froufrou--just beautiful fabrics, neat tailoring and meticulous attention to detail. 'We've never tried to be fantastical,' she explains. 'Right from the beginning, Peter and Alan [Lee, Tolkien illustrator and LOTR's conceptual designer] wanted the costumes to look as real as possible.'" Several photographs of characters in full production gear have become available, and they can be found in our news archives.
What about sets?
Undoubtedly, one of the most crucial aspects of bringing Tolkiens work to life on the screen will be the set design, as location and setting are probably the most finely-detailed points of his work. And from the few glimpses that have been shown to us so far, the work being done for these films is massive, ingenious, and may well prove to be award-worthy in the future. The production designer, an artist responsible for designing the overall visual appearance of the movies, is Grant Major, whose previous credits include Jacksons Heavenly Creatures and The Frighteners. The Art Director, a craftsman who oversees and guides the building of the sets, is Dan Hennah, who was also involved with The Frighteners, and the Set Decoration, which involves decorating the sets with all furnishings (both indoor and outdoor), is being performed by first-timer Tanea Chapman. The amount of detail, imagination, and effort that is being put into the production design for The Lord of the Rings is literally like nothing ever seen before, sure to be a visual treat for both Tolkien fans and regular moviegoers unfamiliar with Tolkiens world. Be sure to check our news archive for the set pictures that we have acquired so far, and continue to visit TheOneRing.net, where we will keep you updated with any new information and photos of sets as they become available.
What will the battles be like?
The battle scenes will be brought to life on an epic scale with the help of a new software program, called MASSIVE, which was developed specifically for The Lord of the Rings films by WETA. While they will not feature intense gore due to the PG-13 rating that Jackson is contractually obligated to deliver, he has promised battles like nothing ever before put on film. He has also indicated that extra battle scenes that are more hardcore may be filmed and then added to the future DVD release. The fighting will be well-choreographed, and the actors and extras have had a great deal of training already from some of the worlds most renowned sword masters, longbow experts, and others. According to Jackson, the crew is "working hard at establishing unique fighting styles for the different races of Middle-earth."
What about weapons and armor?
Jacksons WETA Workshop has been busy for a long time producing vast quantities of weapons and armor to equip the many extras used during the battle scenes. An authentic foundry is set up at WETA where the weapons and armor are being made exactly the same as they would have been formed hundreds of years ago, with steel that is heated and then beaten and molded on anvils. Other famous craftsmen from around the world have been enlisted to help in the production of authentic-looking weaponry and armor; for example, the chainmail was produced by a specialist in India. Recent photos show that the Gondorian soldiers are outfitted with shields and armor that contain the White Tree insignia.
Where are the movies being filmed?
The beautiful country of New Zealand will serve as a stand-in for Middle- earth. It is generally agreed that this country is the ideal place to bring the epic scope of the trilogy to life, with its variety of landscapes and diverse locations. Jackson and crew will be making full use of the natural wonders New Zealand has to offer, filming in spots all around the country. The scenery will also be enhanced where necessary through the use of matte paintings and digital effects.
How much will they cost?
The three films combined have a total budget of $180 million U.S. dollars. However, this translates into roughly $350 million when the exchange rate in New Zealand is taken into account, a phenomenal amount of money for a movie project of any sort. A great deal of funding will be saved by filming the trilogy in New Zealand, due to the cheaper costs of most goods and services in that country. Money will also be saved because the films are being shot simultaneously, in one giant production, rather than as three separate film projects. Where will all of this saved money go? More spectacular sets, epic battle scenes, and stunning special effects for us to enjoy.
What is the shooting schedule?
Filming began on October 11, 1999, and continued for an astounding 14 months, eventually wrapping up on December 22, 2000. The special effects team worked on footage as it became available, thereby saving a lot of time in the post-production phase. The major post-production work, including dialogue looping, editing, and the addition of music, sound effects, and visual effects, is still underway.
What will the movies be titled?
The movies will be titled The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. In other words, each film will have the main trilogy title to avoid confusion, followed by the titles used for each of the three original novels.
What will be the running time of each film?
Jacksons early estimates indicated that each of the three films would be approximately 120 minutes in length, but an exact running time for each film will not be determined until the post-production stage, when editing takes place. With the wealth of material to be covered, it is safe to say that each movie will be 2 hours in length at minimum. Recent news indicates that The Fellowship of the Ring could end up being as long as 2 hours and 45 minutes.
What will the films be rated?
Jackson is contractually obligated to deliver three PG-13 rated films to New Line Cinema, and it was recently confirmed that The Fellowship of the Ring did in fact receive a PG-13 rating from the Motion Picture Association of America. The only aspect of the movies that could potentially come into question with the ratings board is violence, which may have to be toned down slightly to receive a PG-13. This in no way means that the epic battle scenes will have to be "tame," only that Braveheart-style gore is not an option. And not to worry, Jackson has stated that if anything has to be trimmed or modified to appease the ratings board, it will be added back for the DVD release of the films in the future.
What are the release dates?
According to the latest news, The Fellowship of the Ring is scheduled to be released on December 14, 2001, with the other two movies following at one-year intervals (The Two Towers around Christmas 2002, and The Return of the King around Christmas 2003). However, these dates are tentative and may change again before the actual release of the films.
Will the release dates move up?
Its unlikely that the release dates will be moved up, considering the amount of time that will be consumed by postproduction work on the films, such as visual effects, editing, musical scoring, and so forth. If any change in the target release dates occurs, it will probably be a delay rather than a moving up. Most fans are in agreement, however, that it would be better to wait longer in order to give Jackson and crew enough time to get all aspects of the movies right, rather than rushing to get the films in theaters earlier. The trilogy will likely be worth the long wait.
What will be the release pattern?
There is no definite word on the release pattern for the three movies, but since New Line Cinema is in charge of distribution, a good guess would be that they will follow the same release pattern as most big-budget films: a wide United States and Canadian release to begin with, and a gradual spread to other countries across the globe. The latest news does, however, indicate that New Line is working to organize a simultaneous worldwide release of at least the first film in the trilogy. It would seem only fair that New Zealand would get to show the movies at the same time as the United States, since filming took place there and many residents of the country were involved in the production, but fairness is not necessarily a consideration in the movie business.
Will The Hobbit also be adapted into a film?
There are no confirmed plans as of yet for a future film version of The Hobbit. However, it seems likely that if The Lord of the Rings film trilogy is as successful as it very well could be, a Hobbit movie will be produced in order to further capitalize on the success of the franchise.
Will The Silmarillion also be adapted into a film?
The likelihood of a film version of The Silmarillion is largely dependent upon the financial success of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. The story of The Silmarillion would be difficult to translate to film, however, and there are no plans for an adaptation at this point.
When can we expect to start seeing theatrical trailers for the first film?
Rumors indicate that more trailers for The Fellowship of the Ring will hit theaters this autumn. Since three previews have already been released to overwhelmingly positive response, and also considering the fact that fans around the world are anxiously awaiting the release of each theatrical trailer, its safe to assume that New Line will want to capitalize on this anticipation and continue building the hype as much as possible.
Are the scripts for the films online?
No, the film scripts are top secret material and have only been viewed by a lucky few. Even cast and crew members who are working on the movies are not allowed unlimited access to the screenplays.
How are these movies expected to perform at the box office?
Any word at this point on how the movies will perform at the box office is pure speculation, but it is clear that New Lines hopes are high for the trilogy. Given all of the factors involved, including the proven talent of the cast and crew, the incredible special effects work, and the success and beloved status of the source material, it is difficult to imagine how the trilogy could end up not being a major hit. Fan expectations alone are already running high, and there is no doubt that many people will flock to see the films during the first couple of weeks of their run. How they fare at the box office after that point, especially with moviegoers who are not familiar with or interested in the works of Tolkien, will be based largely on critical reception and word-of-mouth. Expect a promotional blitz from New Line, and if the movies turn out to be as good as they potentially can be, its entirely possible that The Lord of the Rings trilogy could end up being ranked among the most financially successful movies of all time.
What about merchandising?
Toy Biz, the toy manufacturing division of Marvel Enterprises, now owns the world licensing rights to products based on The Lord of the Rings trilogy, including action figures, dolls, remote controlled toys, and watches. These products will be available on the market at the time of the release of the first film. Other companies, including restaurant chains, are expected to jump in to get their piece of the Tolkien pie, and it's a safe bet that you can expect a flood of Tolkien-related items, toys, value meals, and collectibles on the market to tie in with the release of the movies. Of course, an even larger quantity of such items will be released if the films are as wildly successful as they very well could be.
What are the plans for the DVD release of the Trilogy?
According to sources, the DVDs will feature interviews with the cast and crew, a "Making of" documentary, behind the scenes footage, and possibly out-takes. Also included will be the original 36-minute documentary that Jackson used to persuade New Line to invest in the film trilogy, which includes design sketches, CGI tests, location models, creature concept art, and test shots of Helm's Deep battles. It is likely that theatrical trailers and other standard DVD extras will be included as well. There is no information at this point regarding release dates for the DVDs, or whether they will be released individually or as a boxed set. If demand for the DVDs runs high enough, we will probably see individual DVD releases of each film, as well as a boxed set of the trilogy once all three films have completed their theatrical runs.
Will the Tom Bomabdil scenes be on the DVD?
Rumors have circulated regarding additional scenes being filmed and subsequently released on the DVD version, but there has been no official confirmation yet. The added expense of casting an additional actor for the part of Tom Bombadil and filming extra scenes may not be seen as a profitable enterprise by the production company.
Will a book with a compilation of concept art be produced?
Its very likely, since the marketers of the film trilogy seem poised to push the promotional tie-ins as far as possible. Expect to see merchandising of every kind once the movies hit theaters.
How can I be a part of this film project?
For information on working with Weta, the company producing the special effects for the film trilogy, visit their website at http://www.wetafx.co.nz/. It's too late to become an extra in the movies, as filming has already been completed. TheOneRing.net does not have any information or influence on the actual hiring process.
How can I find out more?
To keep up-to-date on news and behind-the-scenes info on the production of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, continue visiting TheOneRing.net, where we are constantly gathering more info. Our site is updated several times daily with every latest tidbit regarding filming, in addition to our many other Tolkien-related features.
You may also want to check out Peter Jackson's "20 Questions" interviews with the Ain't It Cool News website: the first is located here and the second can be found here.
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