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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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.
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.
Westland National Park, in New Zealand. Photo by Joe Van Os.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Each film will be roughly 120 minutes, resulting in a total length of 6 hours for the trilogy.
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
Sources and image credits can be found at the bottom of page 2.
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