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The Lord Of The Rings Movies FAQ

(as it was when we launched on July 21, 1999)

Page 1 * Page 2 * Cast List

Movie? Huh? What?

Yes, it's true. J.R.R. Tolkein's fantasy trilogy The Lord of the Rings is in the process of being made into three films by New Line Cinema. Directed and co-written by Peter Jackson, an Oscar nominated screenwriter and well-known independent director, the films will be shot entirely in New Zealand, with a budget of $130 million dollars, and will be released during the seasons of Summer 2001, Christmas 2001, and Summer 2002. Elijah Wood will be playing the lead of Frodo Baggins.

An amazing attention to detail and love for the source material surrounds every aspect of this production, including the actors, director, and even executives at New Line. Tolkien fans are by and large overjoyed at the direction the films are moving in.

Logo from the official Lord of the Rings movie site.

About this FAQ

This web page has been created with the purpose of bringing interested parties up to speed on the situation with the films, and providing a one-stop repository of everything currently known about them. It is not intended to be an archive of day-to-day rumors and speculation, just a relatively comprehensive summary of what we know so far.

There is much more speculation than there are confirmed facts on this project. In order to easily identify the accuracy of any given piece of information, text on this page has been color coded according to its level of authenticity:

Sources have not been cited directly on this page, due to the multiple channels through which much of the information here was obtained. However, at the bottom of page 2 is a list of many of the sources where this information was found.

Quick Index

I. Who Is Involved?
  • Who's directing it?
  • Who is writing the script?
  • Who is starring in it?
  • Who is doing the special effects?
  • Who is composing the music?
  • Who else is working behind the scenes? II. Where, What, and When?
  • Where are the movies being filmed?
  • What is the shooting schedule?
  • When will they be released?
  • What is the budget?
  • Are Christopher Tolkien and the Tolkien estate involved?
  • How long will each film be?
  • What are the technical details? III. Literary Concerns
  • What material from the books will each film cover?
  • What major changes will be made from the books?
  • How will special effects be used?
  • How will characters talk, act, look, etc.?
  • What is the philosophy on casting?
  • What steps are being taken to ensure the films are authentic?
  • What themes will the director emphasize? IV. Miscelaneous
  • What is the history of this movie production?
  • Are there any other Tolkien movies planned or in the works?
  • What pictures / multimeda have been released?
  • Are any video games or toys being made in association with the movie?
  • What are some good web resources for LOTR info?

    I. Who Is Involved?

    Who's directing it?

    Peter Jackson is the driving creative force behind the three films. He will be directing and his production company, Wingnut Films Limited, is producing the movies. New Line Cinema is providing the funding and will distribute the films. Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh are the producers, and Saul Zaentz, Harvey Weinstein, Bob Weinstein are the executive producers.

  • For more information on Peter Jackson, visit his official fan club.

  • Photo of PJ

    Director Peter Jackson.

    Who is writing the script?

    Peter Jackson and his frequent collaborator Fran Walsh are the screenwriters on the Rings trilogy, along with Philippa Boyens and Stephen Sinclair. Jackson and Walsh were nominated for a Best Original Screenplay Oscar in 1995 for "Heavenly Creatures," Kate Winslet's first movie.

  • View Peter Jackson's Internet Movie Database entry

    Elijah looking hobbitish.

    Elijah Wood (the future Frodo Baggins) as the Artful Dodger in the ABC telefilm "Oliver Twist."

    Who is starring in it?

    The only confirmed cast members at this point are Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins and Sean Astin as Sam Gamgee. New Line Cinema has indicated that no more official announcements will be made until the entire ensemble of roughly 100 speaking roles has been selected. This announcement will most likely not be made until August or September. However, this has not stopped casting rumors from flying.

  • Click here for pictures and information on each member of the confirmed cast.
  • Visit the official Elijah Wood homepage.
  • Read some of the more persistant casting rumors.

  • Who is doing the special effects?

    Peter Jackson has his own special effects company, WETA Limited, which will be producing both the digial and optical special effects as well as props and costumes. Lord of the Rings will feature approximately 1200 digital effects.

    WETA has previously created effects for the film "The Frighteners," and for the movie "Contact" they created a stunning effects sequence of a voyage through space and time.

  • Link to the official WETA website.

  • A beautiful galaxy of stars.
    An explosion of light.

    Stills from "Contact" featuring effects by WETA. Copyright Warner Bros.

    Who is composing the music?

    A composer will most likely not be selected for some time. However, Peter Jackson has said he hopes the music will have a "Celtic feel without being Celtic", and has ruled out the possibility of using any pre-existing music inspired by Tolkien's works.

    Painting of Frodo and Gandalf.
    The Fellowship at the entrance to Moria.

    Detail on two paintings by Alan Lee.
    (Not pre-production paintings for the film).

    Who else is working behind the scenes?

    At this point, little is known about the details of other crew members. Alan Lee and John Howe, two well-known Tolkien artists, have been working on the film since at least January 1998 doing pre-production artwork. It is rumored that Bob Anderson, who did sword-fighting choreography on films such as Star Wars and Mask of Zorro, will be pulling similar duties in the upcoming films.

  • More Tolkien paintings by Alan Lee and John Howe.
  • Jump to multimedia for more artwork.

  • II. Where, What, and When?

    Where are the movies being filmed?

    The movies will be shot entirely in New Zealand, using the variety of diverse and stunningly beautiful geography that country has to offer.

    Some of the specific locations that have been mentioned are the region known as "Volcanic Plateau" for Mordor, the Waikato for the Weathertop region, Canterbury for Edoras, and Hinuera for Hobbiton.

  • More New Zealand pics are available here.

  • A stunning photo of a forested mountain.

    Westland National Park, in New Zealand. Photo by Joe Van Os.

    What is the shooting schedule?

    Shooting on the films will begin sometime in September or October of 1999 (possibly on September 19). Originally planned to begin in May, the pre-production period was moved back to give Jackson and his team time to ensure their organization for the unprecedented shoot.

    When will they be released?

    The films will be released six months apart. Originally, New Line and Jackson said the dates would be Winter 2000/Summer 2001/Winter 2001. However, lately sources seem to indicate this has been moved back by half a year, to Summer 2001/Winter 2001/Summer 2002.

    What is the budget?

    The reported total budget for the three films is $130 million dollars. Though this may sound low, according to Jackson the New Zealand exchange rate and generally cheaper services in the country make this amount equivalent to more like $350 million. Also, a significant amount of money is saved by shooting the three films back-to-back.

    Are Christopher Tolkien and/or the Tolkien estate involved?

    The short answer is no. Jackson offers a more detailed analysis in his second Q&A session with Aint-It-Cool-News:

    While they are in no way opposed to a film(s) being made, they do not want to be involved. The reason is basically simple: if they had any involvement, then the films would become "official" - in other words, they would be seen as being endorsed by the estate. This is a situation that the estate does not want, as they consider themselves to be protectors of Tolkien's written word, not film makers.

    How long will each film be?

    Each film will be roughly 120 minutes, resulting in a total length of 6 hours for the trilogy.

    What are the technical details?

    The film will be shot in Super 35, resulting in an aspect ratio of 2.35 to 1. The filmmakers are shooting for a PG-13 rating; however, they would like to make it a hard PG-13, and possibly include more graphic footage on a special edition DVD release.

    A crew of approximately 300 will be involved in the production of the movies.

    Go on to Page 2

    "The Lord of the Rings films, baby... another three reasons not to commit suicide." (comment from reader Mostholy on the Aint-it-Cool-News talkback.)

    Sources and image credits can be found at the bottom of page 2.

    If you have any corrections, new information, links, pictures, or thoughts you'd like to share, please e-mail me at aaronareed@yahoo.com.

    Return to the real Lord of the Rings Movie page.