- The Lord of the Rings film trilogy
The Lord of the Rings trilogy
The poster for the trilogy is a montage that features a range of characters and scenes from all three movies.
Directed by Peter Jackson Produced by Peter Jackson
Barrie M. Osborne
Tim Sanders (The Fellowship of the Ring)
Screenplay by Fran Walsh
Stephen Sinclair (The Two Towers)
Based on The Lord of the Rings by
J. R. R. Tolkien
Music by Howard Shore Cinematography Andrew Lesnie Studio WingNut Films
The Saul Zaentz Company
Distributed by New Line Cinema Release date(s) 2001–2003 Running time 557 minutes Language English Budget $281 million Box office $2,915,155,189
The Lord of the Rings is an epic film trilogy consisting of three fantasy adventure films based on the three-volume book of the same name by English author J. R. R. Tolkien. The films are The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Two Towers (2002) and The Return of the King (2003).
The films were directed by Peter Jackson and distributed by New Line Cinema. Considered to be one of the biggest and most ambitious movie projects ever undertaken, with an overall budget of $285 million, the entire project took eight years, with the filming for all three films done simultaneously and entirely in Jackson's native New Zealand. Each film in the trilogy also had Special Extended Editions, released on DVD a year after the theatrical releases. While the films follow the book's general storyline, they do omit some of the plot elements from the novel and include some additions to and other deviations from the source material.
Set in the fictional world of Middle-earth, the three films follow the hobbit Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) as he and a Fellowship embark on a quest to destroy the One Ring, and thus ensure the destruction of its maker, the Dark Lord Sauron. The Fellowship becomes divided and Frodo continues the quest together with his loyal companion Sam (Sean Astin) and the treacherous Gollum (Andy Serkis). Meanwhile, the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), heir in exile to the throne of Gondor, unite and rally the Free Peoples of Middle-earth, who are ultimately victorious in the War of the Ring.
The trilogy was a great financial success, with the films collectively being the sixth highest-grossing film series of all-time (behind Harry Potter, James Bond, Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Shrek). The films were critically acclaimed and heavily awarded, winning 17 out of 30 Academy Awards nominated in total. The final film in the trilogy, The Return of the King, won all 11 of the Academy Awards for which it was nominated, tying it with Ben-Hur and Titanic for most Academy Awards received for a film. The trilogy received wide praise for the cast and for the innovative practical and digital special effects.
- 1 Development
- 2 Production design
- 3 Filming
- 4 Cast
- 5 Special effects
- 6 Post-production
- 7 Releases
- 8 Reception
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Director Peter Jackson first came into contact with The Lord of the Rings when he saw Ralph Bakshi's 1978 film. Jackson "enjoyed the film and wanted to know more." Afterwards, he read a tie-in edition of the book during a twelve-hour train journey from Wellington to Auckland when he was seventeen.
In 1995, Jackson was finishing The Frighteners and considered The Lord of the Rings as a new project, wondering "why nobody else seemed to be doing anything about it". With the new developments in computer-generated imagery following Jurassic Park, Jackson set about planning a fantasy film that would be relatively serious and feel "real". By October, he and his partner Fran Walsh teamed up with Miramax Films boss Harvey Weinstein to negotiate with Saul Zaentz who had held the rights to the book since the early 1970s, pitching an adaptation of The Hobbit and two films based on The Lord of the Rings. Negotiations then stalled when Universal Studios offered Jackson a remake of King Kong. Weinstein was furious, and further problems arose when it turned out Zaentz did not have distribution rights to The Hobbit; United Artists, which was in the market, did. By April 1996 the rights question was still not resolved. Jackson decided to move ahead with King Kong before filming The Lord of the Rings, prompting Universal to enter a deal with Miramax to receive foreign earnings from The Lord of the Rings while Miramax received foreign earnings from King Kong. It was also revealed that Jackson originally wanted to finish King Kong before the Lord of the Rings began. But due to location problems he decided to start with The Lord of the Rings franchise instead.
When Universal cancelled King Kong in 1997, Jackson and Walsh immediately received support from Weinstein and began a six-week process of sorting out the rights. Jackson and Walsh asked Costa Botes to write a synopsis of the book and they began to re-read the book. Two to three months later, they had written their treatment. The first film would have dealt with what would become The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and the beginning of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, ending with the death of Saruman, and Gandalf and Pippin going to Minas Tirith. In this treatment, Gwaihir and Gandalf visit Edoras after escaping Saruman, Gollum attacks Frodo when the Fellowship is still united, and Farmer Maggot, Glorfindel, Radagast, Elladan and Elrohir are present. Bilbo attends the Council of Elrond, Sam looks into Galadriel's mirror, Saruman is redeemed before he dies and the Nazgûl just make it into Mount Doom before they fall. They presented their treatment to Harvey and Bob Weinstein, the latter of whom they focused on impressing with their screenwriting as he had not read the book. They agreed upon two films and a total budget of $75 million.
During mid-1997, Jackson and Walsh began writing with Stephen Sinclair. Sinclair's partner, Philippa Boyens, was a major fan of the book and joined the writing team after reading their treatment. It took 13–14 months to write the two film scripts, which were 147 and 144 pages respectively. Sinclair left the project due to theatrical obligations. Amongst their revisions, Sam is caught eavesdropping and forced to go along with Frodo, instead of Sam, Merry, and Pippin figuring out about the One Ring themselves and voluntarily going along after confronting Frodo about it, as occurs in the original novel. Gandalf's account of his time at Orthanc was pulled out of flashback and Lothlórien was cut, with Galadriel doing what she does in the story at Rivendell. Denethor attends the Council with his son. Other changes included having Arwen rescue Frodo, and the action sequence involving the cave troll. Arwen was even going to kill the Witch-king.
Trouble struck when Marty Katz was sent to New Zealand. Spending four months there, he told Miramax that the films were more likely to cost $150 million, and with Miramax unable to finance this, and with $15 million already spent, they decided to merge the two films into one. On 17 June 1998, Bob Weinstein presented a treatment of a single two-hour film version of the book. He suggested cutting Bree and the Battle of Helm's Deep, "losing or using" Saruman, merging Rohan and Gondor with Éowyn as Boromir's sister, shortening Rivendell and Moria as well as having Ents prevent the Uruk-hai kidnapping Merry and Pippin. Upset by the idea of "cutting out half the good stuff" Jackson balked, and Miramax declared that any script or work completed by Weta Workshop was theirs. Jackson went around Hollywood for four weeks, showing a thirty-five minute video of their work, before meeting with Mark Ordesky of New Line Cinema. At New Line Cinema, Robert Shaye viewed the video, and then asked why they were making two films when the book was published as three volumes; he wanted to make a film trilogy. Now Jackson, Walsh, and Boyens had to write three new scripts.
The expansion to three films allowed much more creative freedom, although Jackson, Walsh, and Boyens had to restructure their script accordingly. The three films do not correspond exactly to the three volumes of the trilogy, but rather represent a three-part adaptation. Jackson takes a more chronological approach to the story than did Tolkien. Frodo's quest is the main focus, and Aragorn is the main sub-plot, and many sequences (such as Tom Bombadil and the Scouring of the Shire) that do not contribute directly to those two plots were left out. Much effort was put into creating satisfactory conclusions and making sure exposition did not bog down the pacing. Amongst new sequences, there are also expansions on elements Tolkien kept ambiguous, such as the battles and the creatures.
Above all, most characters have been altered for extra drama: Aragorn, Théoden, and Treebeard have added or modified elements of self-doubt, while the personalities of Galadriel, Elrond, and Faramir have been darkened. Boromir and Gollum are (arguably) relatively more sympathetic, while some characters such as Legolas, Gimli, Saruman, and Denethor have been simplified. Some characters, such as Arwen and Éomer, have been combined with lesser book characters such as Glorfindel and Erkenbrand, and as a general matter lines of dialogue have sometimes been switched around between locations or characters depending on suitability of the scenes. New scenes were also added to expand on characterisation. During shooting, the screenplays continued to evolve, in part due to contributions from cast looking to further explore their characters. Most notable amongst these rewrites was the character Arwen, who was originally planned as a warrior princess, but reverted back to her book counterpart, who remains physically inactive in the story (though she sends moral and military support).
To develop fight and sword choreography for the trilogy, the filmmakers employed Hollywood sword-master Bob Anderson. Anderson worked directly with the talent including Viggo Mortensen and Karl Urban to develop the many sword fights and stunts within the film. Bob Anderson's role in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy was highlighted in the film Reclaiming the Blade. This documentary on sword martial arts also featured Weta Workshop and Richard Taylor, Lord of the Rings illustrator John Howe and actors Viggo Mortensen and Karl Urban. All discussed their roles and work on the trilogy as related to the sword.
Jackson began storyboarding the trilogy with Christian Rivers in August 1997 and assigned his crew to begin designing Middle-earth at the same time. Jackson hired long-time collaborator Richard Taylor to lead Weta Workshop on five major design elements: armour, weapons, prosthetics/make-up, creatures, and miniatures. In November 1997, famed Tolkien illustrators Alan Lee and John Howe joined the project. Most of the imagery in the films is based on their various illustrations. Grant Major, production designer was charged with the task of converting Lee and Howe's designs into architecture, creating models of the sets, while Dan Hennah worked as art director, scouting locations and organising the building of sets.
Jackson's vision of Middle-earth was described as being "Ray Harryhausen meets David Lean" by Randy Cook. Jackson wanted a gritty realism and historical regard for the fantasy, and attempted to make the world rational and believable. For example, the New Zealand Army helped build Hobbiton months before filming began so the plants could really grow. Creatures were designed to be biologically believable, such as the enormous wings of the fell beast to help it fly. In total, 48,000 pieces of armour, 500 bows, and 10,000 arrows were created by Weta Workshop. They also created many prosthetics, such as 1,800 pairs of Hobbit feet for the lead actors, as well as many ears, noses, and heads for the cast, and around 19,000 costumes were woven and aged. Every prop was specially designed by the Art Department, taking the different scales into account.
Principal photography for all three films was conducted concurrently in many locations within New Zealand's conservation areas and national parks between 11 October 1999, and 22 December 2000, a period of 438 days. Pick-up shoots were conducted annually from 2001 to 2004. The trilogy was shot at over 150 different locations, with seven different units shooting, as well as soundstages around Wellington and Queenstown. As well as Jackson directing the whole production, other unit directors included John Mahaffie, Geoff Murphy, Fran Walsh, Barrie Osbourne, Rick Porras, and any other assistant director, producer, or writer available. Jackson monitored these units with live satellite feeds, and with the added pressure of constant script re-writes and the multiple units interpreting his envisioned result, he only got around four hours of sleep a night. Due to the remoteness of some of the locations, the crew would also bring survival kits in case helicopters could not reach the location to bring them home in time. The New Zealand Department of Conservation was criticised for approving the filming within national parks without adequate consideration of the adverse environmental effects and without public notification. The adverse effects of filming battle scenes in Tongariro National Park later required restoration work.
The following is a list of cast members who voiced or portrayed characters appearing in the extended version of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
The first film has around 540 effect shots, the second 799, and the third 1,488 (2,730 in total). The total increases to 3,420 with the extended editions. 260 visual effect artists began work on the trilogy, and the number doubled by The Two Towers. The crew, led by Jim Rygiel and Randy Cook, worked long hours, often overnight, to produce special effects within a short space of time. Jackson's active imagination was a driving force. For example, several major shots of Helm's Deep were produced within the last six weeks of post-production of The Two Towers, and the same happened again within the last six weeks on The Return of the King.
Each film had the benefit of a full year of post-production time before its respective December release, often finishing in October–November, with the crew immediately going to work on the next film. In the later part of this period, Jackson would move to London to supervise the scoring and continue editing, while having a computer feed for discussions to The Dorchester Hotel, and a "fat pipe" of Internet connections from Pinewood Studios to look at the special effects. He had a Polycom video link and 5.1 surround sound to organise meetings, and listen to new music and sound effects generally wherever he was. The extended editions also had a tight schedule at the start of each year to complete special effects and music.
To avoid pressure, Jackson hired a different editor for each film. John Gilbert worked on the first film, Mike Horton and Jabez Olssen on the second and longtime Jackson collaborator Jamie Selkirk and Annie Collins on the third. Daily rushes would often last up to four hours, with scenes being done throughout 1999–2002 for the rough (4½ hours) assemblies of the films. In total, six million feet of film (over 1,100 miles) was edited down to the 11 hours and 23 minutes (683 minutes) of Extended running time. This was the final area of shaping of the films, when Jackson realised that sometimes the best scripting could be redundant on screen, as he picked apart scenes every day from multiple takes.
Editing on the first film was relatively easygoing, with Jackson coming up with the concept of an Extended Edition later on, although after a screening to New Line they had to re-edit the beginning for a prologue. The Two Towers was always acknowledged by the crew as the most difficult film to make, as "it had no beginning or end", and had the additional problem of inter-cutting storylines appropriately. Jackson even continued editing the film when that part of the schedule officially ended, resulting in some scenes, including the reforging of Andúril, Gollum's back-story, and Saruman's demise, being moved to The Return of the King. Later, Saruman's demise was controversially cut from the cinema edition (but included in the extended edition) when Jackson felt it was not starting the third film effectively enough. As with all parts of the third film's post-production, editing was very chaotic. The first time Jackson actually saw the completed film was at the Wellington premiere.
Many filmed scenes remain unused, even in the Extended Editions. Promotional material for The Fellowship of the Ring contained an attack by Orcs from Moria on Lothlórien after the Fellowship leaves Moria, replaced with a more suspenseful entrance for the Fellowship. Also cut were scenes from the book, including Frodo seeing more of Middle-earth at Parth Galen and an extended Council of Elrond, and new scenes with an attack upon Frodo and Sam at the river Anduin by an Uruk-hai. The major cut to The Two Towers featured Arwen and Elrond visiting Galadriel at Lothlórien, with Arwen then leading the Elven reinforcements to Helm's Deep. This scene, and a flashback to Arwen and Aragorn's first meeting, was cut during a revision of the film's plot; the Elves' appearance was explained with a telepathic communication between Elrond and Galadriel. Éowyn was to have a greater role in defending the refugees in the Glittering Caves from Uruk-hai intruders, while in Osgiliath, Faramir was to have a vision of Frodo becoming like Gollum, with Frodo and Sam having an extended fight sequence. Filmed for The Return of the King were two scenes present in the book; Sam using the Phial of Galadriel to pass the Watchers at Cirith Ungol, and further epilogue footage, with endings for Legolas and Gimli, Éowyn and Faramir's wedding and Aragorn's death and funeral. Sauron was to fight Aragon at the Black Gate, but with Jackson deciding the scene was inappropriate a computer-generated Troll was used instead. To give context for Wormtongue killing Saruman, and Legolas in turn killing Wormtongue, it was to be revealed Wormtongue poisoned Théodred. The final scene cut was Aragorn having his armour fitted for the Battle of the Black Gate by the trilogy's armourers, which was the final scene filmed during principal photography. Peter Jackson has stated that he would like to include some of these unused scenes in a future "Ultimate Edition" home video release, also including out-takes.
Howard Shore composed, orchestrated, conducted, and produced the trilogy's music. He was hired in August 2000 and visited the set, and watched the assembly cuts of films 1 and 3. In the music, Shore included many leitmotifs to represent various characters, cultures, and places. For example, there are leitmotifs for the hobbits as well as the Shire. Although the first film had some of its score recorded in Wellington, virtually all of the trilogy's score was recorded in Watford Town Hall and mixed at Abbey Road Studios. Jackson planned to advise the score for six weeks each year in London, though for The Two Towers he stayed for twelve. As a Beatles fan, Jackson had a photo tribute done there on the zebra crossing.
The score is primarily played by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and many artists such as Ben Del Maestro, Enya, Renée Fleming, James Galway, Annie Lennox and Emilíana Torrini contributed. Even actors Billy Boyd, Viggo Mortensen, Liv Tyler, Miranda Otto (extended cuts only for the latter two), and Peter Jackson (for a single gong sound in the second film) contributed to the score. Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens also wrote the lyrics to various music and songs, which David Salo translated into Tolkien's languages. The third film's end song, Into the West, was a tribute to a young filmmaker Jackson and Walsh befriended named Cameron Duncan, who died of cancer in 2003.
Shore composed a main theme for The Fellowship rather than many different character themes, and its strength and weaknesses in volume are depicted at different points in the trilogy. On top of that, individual themes were composed to represent different cultures. Infamously, the amount of music Shore had to write every day for the third film increased dramatically to around seven minutes.
Sound technicians spent the early part of the year trying to find the right sounds. Some, such as animal sounds like tigers' and walruses', were bought. Human voices were also used. Fran Walsh contributed to the Nazgûl scream and David Farmer the Warg howls. Other sounds were unexpected: The Fell Beast's screech is taken from that of a donkey, and the mûmakil's bellow comes from the beginning and end of a lion's roar. In addition, ADR was used for most of the dialogue.
The technicians worked with New Zealand locals to get many of the sounds. They re-recorded sounds in abandoned tunnels for an echo-like effect in the Moria sequence. 20,000 New Zealand cricket fans provided the sound of the Uruk-hai army in The Two Towers, with Jackson acting as conductor during the innings break of a one day International cricket match between England and New Zealand at Westpac Stadium. They spent time recording sounds in a graveyard at night, and also had construction workers drop stone blocks for the sounds of boulders firing and landing in The Return of the King. Mixing took place between August and November at "The Film Mix", before Jackson commissioned the building of a new studio in 2003. The building, however, had not yet been fully completed when they started mixing for The Return of the King.
The online promotional trailer for the trilogy was first released on 27 April 2000, and set a new record for download hits, registering 1.7 million hits in the first 24 hours of its release. The trailer used a selection from the soundtrack for Braveheart, and The Shawshank Redemption among other cuts. In 2001, 24 minutes of footage from the trilogy, primarily the Moria sequence, was shown at the Cannes Film Festival, and was very well received. The showing also included an area designed to look like Middle-earth.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was released 19 December 2001. It grossed $47 million in its US opening weekend and made around $871 million worldwide. A preview of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers was inserted just before the end credits near the end of the film's theatrical run. A promotional trailer was later released, containing music re-scored from the film Requiem for a Dream. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers was released 18 December 2002. It grossed $62 million in its first US weekend and out-grossed its predecessor, grossing $926 million worldwide. The promotional trailer for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King was débuted exclusively before the New Line Cinema film Secondhand Lions on 23 September 2003. Released 17 December 2003, its first US weekend gross was $72 million, and became the second film (after Titanic) to gross over $1 billion worldwide.
Each film was released on standard two-disc edition DVDs containing previews of the next film. The success of the theatrical cuts brought about four-disc Extended Editions, with new editing, added special effects and music. The extended cuts of the films and the included special features were spread over two discs, and a limited collectors edition was also released. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was released on 12 November 2002, containing 30 minutes more footage, an Alan Lee painting of the Fellowship entering Moria, and the Moria Gate on the back of the sleeve and an Argonath styled bookend with the Collector's Edition. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, released on 18 November 2003, contains 44 minutes extra footage, a Lee painting of Gandalf the White's entrance and the Collector's Edition contained a Sméagol statue, with a crueler-looking statue of his Gollum persona available for order during a limited time. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King was released on 14 December 2004, having 52 minutes more footage, a Lee painting of the Grey Havens and a model of Minas Tirith for the Collector's Edition, with Minas Morgul available for order during a limited time. The Special Extended DVD Editions also had in-sleeve maps of the Fellowship's travels. They have also played at movie theatres, most notably for a 16 December 2003, marathon screening (dubbed "Trilogy Tuesday") culminating in a late afternoon screening of the third film. Attendees of "Trilogy Tuesday" were given a limited edition keepsake from Sideshow Collectibles containing one random frame of film from each of the three movies. Both versions were put together in a Limited Edition "branching" version, plus a new feature-length documentary by Costa Botes. The complete trilogy was released in a six Disc set on 14 November 2006.
Warner Bros. released the theatrical versions of the trilogy on Blu-ray Disc in a boxed set on 6 April 2010. An extended edition Blu-ray box set was made available for pre-order from Amazon.com in March 2011 and was released on 28 June 2011.
Film Release date Box office revenue Box office ranking Budget Profit Reference United States Foreign Worldwide All time USA All time worldwide The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring 19 December 2001 $314,776,170 $555,985,574 $870,761,744 #28
#22 $93,000,000 $777,761,744  The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers 18 December 2002 $341,786,758 $583,495,746 $925,282,504 #17
#14 $94,000,000 $831,283,504  The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King 17 December 2003 $377,027,325 $742,083,616 $1,119,110,941 #13
#4 $94,000,000 $1,025,110,941  Total $1,033,590,253 $1,881,564,936 $2,915,155,189 $281,000,000 $2,634,155,189 List indicator(s)
- (A) indicates the adjusted ranks based on current ticket prices (calculated by Box Office Mojo).
Public and critical response
The Lord of the Rings film trilogy is the highest grossing motion picture trilogy worldwide of all time, higher even than other film franchises such as the original Star Wars trilogy and The Godfather. The film trilogy grossed a total of $2.91 billion. The film trilogy also tied a record with Ben-Hur and Titanic for the total number of Academy Awards won for a single movie with The Return of the King receiving eleven Oscars.
The majority of critics have also praised the trilogy, with Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times writing that "the trilogy will not soon, if ever, find its equal". In particular, performances from Ian McKellen, Sean Astin, Sean Bean, Andy Serkis, and Bernard Hill stood out for many in audience polls, and special effects for the battles and Gollum were praised. A few critics such as Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times did not rank the trilogy so highly, and while praising the special effects, Ebert was critical of the story, and none of the films appeared in his "Top 10" lists for their respective years. Some were also critical of the films' pacing and length: "It's a collection of spectacular set pieces without any sense of momentum driving them into one another" according to the Philadelphia Weekly.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the trilogy received a positive 94% average rating from critics - 92%, 96%, and 94% respectively, making it the second highest rated film trilogy of all-time, behind the Toy Story trilogy (in which the first two films earned a perfect 100%, and the third earned 99%), and in front of the original Star Wars trilogy (94%, 97%, and 78% respectively). Metacritic, assigned the following ratings to each movie - 92%, 88% and 94% respectively - based on these results, Metacritic has the trilogy listed as one of two most critically acclaimed trilogy of all time, in that every film is placed in the top 100 of the 'Metacritic Best-Reviewed Movies' list - as of 20 July 2010, only one other trilogy has had all movies placed in the top 100 positions of this list, the Toy Story trilogy.
The trilogy appears in many "Top 10" film lists, such as the Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association's Top 10 Films, Time Magazine's All-Time 100 Movies, James Berardinelli's Top 100, and The Screen Directory's "Top Ten Films of All Time" (considering the trilogy as "one epic film split into three parts"). In 2007, USA Today named the trilogy as the most important films of the past 25 years. Entertainment Weekly put it on its end-of-the-decade, "best-of" list, saying, "Bringing a cherished book to the big screen? No sweat. Peter Jackson's trilogy—or, as we like to call it, our preciousssss—exerted its irresistible pull, on advanced Elvish speakers and neophytes alike." In another TIME magazine list the trilogy ranks second in "Best Movies of the Decade".
Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic Yahoo! Movies Overall Cream of the Crop The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring 92% (206 reviews) 92% (38 reviews) 92% (34 reviews) A (15 reviews) The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers 96% (219 reviews) 100% (39 reviews) 88% (39 reviews) A- (16 reviews) The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King 94% (240 reviews) 98% (43 reviews) 94% (42 reviews) A- (15 reviews)
The three films together were nominated for a total of 30 Academy Awards, of which they won 17, a record for any movie trilogy. The Return of the King won in every category in which it was nominated, an extremely rare feat; its Oscar for Best Picture was widely perceived as an award by proxy for the entire trilogy. The Return of the King also tied a record for the total number of Academy Awards won, 11, with Ben-Hur and Titanic (though both of those films had additional nominations that they lost out on). No actors in any of the three films won Oscars, although Ian McKellen was nominated for his work in The Fellowship of the Ring.
- The Fellowship of the Ring — Nominations: 13, Wins: 4
- The Two Towers — Nominations: 6, Wins: 2
- The Return of the King — Nominations: 11, Wins: 11
Award Awards Won The Fellowship of the Ring The Two Towers The Return of the King Art Direction Nomination Nomination Win Cinematography Win Costume Design Nomination Win Directing Nomination Win Film Editing Nomination Nomination Win Makeup Win Win Music (Original Score) Win Win Music (Original Song) Nomination
("May It Be")
("Into the West")
Best Picture Nomination Nomination Win Sound Editing Win Sound Mixing Nomination Nomination Win Supporting Actor Nomination
Visual Effects Win Win Win Writing (Previously Produced or Published) Nomination Win
As well as Academy Awards, each film of the trilogy won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, the MTV Movie Award for Best Movie, and the Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Film. The first and third films also won the BAFTA Award for Best Film. The soundtrack for The Two Towers did not receive a nomination because of a rule prohibiting a soundtrack including music from a previous soundtrack to be eligible for nomination. This rule was overturned in time for The Return of the King to receive the Oscar for Best Music Score. The New York Film Critics Circle awarded The Return of the King its Best Picture Award at the 2003 Awards Ceremony, hosted by Andrew Johnston, Chair of the organization at that time, who called it "a masterful piece of filmmaking."
Reactions to changes in the films from the book
While the films were very well received, some readers of the books have decried certain changes made in the film adaptations. Various changes to characters such as Gandalf, Aragorn, Arwen, Denethor, Faramir, Gimli, and the protagonist Frodo, and changes made to events (such as the Elves participating at the Battle of Helm's Deep and Faramir taking the hobbits to Osgiliath), when considered together, are seen by some to alter the tone and themes from those found in the book.
Many have also decried the wholesale deletion of the penultimate chapter of the novel, "The Scouring of the Shire", a part Tolkien felt thematically necessary.
“ I find both of the Jackson films to be travesties as adaptations... faithful only on a basic level of plot... Cut and compress as necessary, yes, but don't change or add new material without very good reason... In the moments in which the films succeed, they do so by staying close to what Tolkien so carefully wrote; where they fail, it tends to be where they diverge from him, most seriously in the area of characterisation. Most of the characters in the films are mere shadows of those in the book, weak and diminished (notably Frodo) or insulting caricatures (Pippin, Merry, and Gimli)... [T]he filmmakers sacrifice the richness of Tolkien's story and characters, not to mention common sense, for violence, cheap humour, and cheaper thrills... [S]o many of its reviewers have praised it as faithful to the book, or even superior to it, all of which adds insult to injury and is demonstrably wrong... ”
Some fans of the book who disagreed with such changes have released fan edits of the films, which removed many of the changes to bring them closer to the original. A combined 8-hour version of the trilogy exists, called The Lord of the Rings: The Purist Edition.
Supporters of the trilogy assert that it is a worthy interpretation of the book and that most of the changes were necessary. Many who worked on the trilogy are fans of the book, including Christopher Lee, who (alone among the cast) had actually met Tolkien in person, and Boyens once noted that no matter what, it is simply their interpretation of the book. Jackson once said that to simply summarise the story on screen would be a mess, and in his own words, "Sure, it's not really The Lord of the Rings ... but it could still be a pretty damn cool movie." Other fans also claim that, despite any changes, the films serve as a tribute to the book, appealing to those who have not yet read it, and even leading some to do so. The Movie Guide for The Encyclopedia of Arda (an online Tolkien encyclopaedia) states:
“ It seems appropriate to end with a word of acknowledgement of Peter Jackson and everyone else associated with the movie version of The Lord of the Rings. Though of course they haven't come close to the scope and intricacy of the original story—that would be quite impossible—what they have produced is still nothing less than a masterpiece. The film-makers, and of course Peter Jackson in particular, have to be admired merely for having the courage to take on such an immense challenge, let alone to produce such an exceptional result. The complete story of The Lord of the Rings is probably unfilmable, but Peter Jackson has come closer than anyone could have imagined possible. ”
In 2005, the Mythopoeic Society published a volume of critical essays about the trilogy and its effects on popular culture called Tolkien on Film: Essays on Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings. The book has been praised as balanced and its authors as "truly critical" since they seek to "discern how the films both succeed and fail, and why their massive popularity is both to be praised and lamented." Among other topics, the essays include evaluations of the films' treatment of women as compared to Tolkien's themes, criticism of arguments used to defend the films, and assessments of the films' treatment of heroes and heroism compared to the novel and its sources. Cathy Akers-Jordan, Jane Chance, Victoria Gaydosik, and Maureen Thum contend that the portrayal of women, especially Arwen, in the films is overall thematically faithful to (or compatible with) Tolkien's writings despite some differences. David Bratman criticises several arguments defending the films as adaptations, such as "It’s Jackson’s vision, not Tolkien’s", "But they worked so hard on it!", "It brings new readers to the book", "The perfect film would have been 40 hours long", and "The book is still on the shelf". He also writes that "Peter Jackson has a nine-year-old's understanding of Tolkien" and gives the films "an A on visuals and props, a B ... as independent pieces of work divorced from the book, a C on faithfulness to Tolkien's story and detail, and a D ... on faithfulness to Tolkien's spirit and tone." Dan Timmons writes that the themes and internal logic of the films are undermined by the portrayal of Frodo, whom he considers a weakening of Tolkien's original. Kayla McKinney Wiggins opines that the films misread and misinterpret the nature of heroes as understood in Tolkien’s writings and in his source material due to a shift in focus from character evolution to action adventure. Janet Brennan Croft criticises the films using Tolkien's own terms “anticipation” and “flattening”, which he used in critiquing a proposed film script. She contrasts Tolkien's subtlety with Jackson's tendency to show "too much too soon".
The release of the films saw a surge of interest in The Lord of the Rings and Tolkien's other works, vastly increasing his impact on popular culture. It was rumoured that the Tolkien family became split on the trilogy, with Christopher Tolkien and Simon Tolkien feuding over whether or not it was a good idea to adapt. Christopher Tolkien has since denied these claims saying, "My own position is that The Lord of the Rings is peculiarly unsuitable to transformation into visual dramatic form. The suggestions that have been made that I 'disapprove' of the films, even to the extent of thinking ill of those with whom I may differ, are wholly without foundation." He added that he had never "expressed any such feeling". A musical adaptation of the book was launched in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in 2006, but it closed after mostly poor reviews. A shortened version opened in London, UK, in the summer of 2007. The success of the films has also spawned the production of video games and many other kinds of merchandise.
As a result of the success of the trilogy, Peter Jackson has become a player in the movie business (sometimes called a mogul) in the mould of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, in the process befriending some industry heavyweights like Bryan Singer and Frank Darabont. Jackson has since founded his own film production company, Wingnut Films, as well as Wingnut Interactive, a video-game company. He was also finally given a chance to remake King Kong in 2005. The film became a critical and box office success, although not as successful as The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Jackson has been called a "favourite son" of New Zealand. In 2004, Howard Shore toured with The Lord of the Rings Symphony, consisting of two hours of the score. Along with the Harry Potter films, the trilogy has renewed interest in the fantasy film genre. Tourism for New Zealand is up, possibly due to its exposure in the trilogy, with the tourism industry in the country waking up to an audience's familiarity.
In December 2002, The Lord of the Rings Motion Picture Trilogy: The Exhibition opened at the Te Papa museum in Wellington, New Zealand. As of 2007, the exhibition has travelled to seven other cities around the world.
The legacy of The Lord of the Rings is also that of court cases over profits from the trilogy. Sixteen cast members (Noel Appleby, Jed Brophy, Mark Ferguson, Ray Henwood, Bruce Hopkins, William Johnson, Nathaniel Lees, Sarah McLeod, Ian Mune, Paul Norell, Craig Parker, Robert Pollock, Martyn Sanderson, Peter Tait and Stephan Ure) sued over the lack of revenue from merchandise bearing their appearance. The case was resolved out of court in 2008. The settlement came too late for Appleby, who died of cancer in 2007. Saul Zaentz also filed a lawsuit in 2004 claiming he had not been paid all of his royalties. The next year, Jackson himself sued the studio over profits from the first film, slowing development of the prequels until late 2007. The Tolkien Trust filed a lawsuit in February 2008, for violating Tolkien's original deal over the rights that they would earn 7.5% of the gross from any films based on his works. The Trust sought compensation of $150 million. A judge denied them this option, but allowed them to win compensation from the act of the studio ignoring the contract itself. On 8 September 2009, a settlement of this dispute between the Trust and New Line was announced (clearing a potential obstacle to the making of a new movie based on The Hobbit).
- The Hobbit (2012 film)
- The Hobbit (1977 film)
- The Lord of the Rings (1978 film)
- The Return of the King (1980 film)
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- Official site of the films
- The Frodo Franchise
- The Lord of the Rings film trilogy at the Arts & Faith Top 100 Spiritually Significant Films list
- What To Do With The Time That Is Given: Vocation in The Lord of the Rings Essay-length review of the film cycle as compared with the original book on the theme of vocation, or calling. Originally published in The Mars Hill Review.
Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film series FilmsThe Lord of the Rings
- The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
- The Two Towers (2002)
- The Return of the King (2003)
- An Unexpected Journey (2012)
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Production Music Related articles
- The Exhibition
- Gollum: How We Made Movie Magic
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Actors • Directors • Films A-Z • Chronology of films • Cinematographers • Composers • Editors • Producers • Screenwriters
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Production design of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy — The Lord of the Rings film trilogy began its production design in August 1997. Peter Jackson required complete realism and plausibility in his vision of Middle earth, and hired Weta Workshop to create the various pieces of armour, weapons,… … Wikipedia
Special effects of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy — The Lord of the Rings film trilogy used many groundbreaking practical and digital visual effects. The first film has around 540 effects shots, the second 799, and the third 1488 (2730 in total).cite video|title=Weta… … Wikipedia
Music of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy — This article is about the music of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. For the concert band composition by Johan de Meij, see Symphony No. 1 The Lord of the Rings . The music of the The Lord of the Rings film trilogy was composed, orchestrated,… … Wikipedia
List of original characters in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy — This article is about the characters from The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. For characters from the novel by J. R. R. Tolkien, see The Lord of the Rings. This is a list of original characters of note found in Peter Jackson s film adaptation of… … Wikipedia
Principal photography of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy — Principal photography for The Lord of the Rings film trilogy was conducted concurrently in New Zealand from October 11, 1999 through to December 22, 2000 for 274 days. Pick up shoots were conducted annually from 2001 to 2004. The trilogy was shot … Wikipedia
The Lord of the Rings (film) — may refer to the following films based on J. R. R. Tolkien s fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings :*Animated films: ** The Lord of the Rings (1978 film) ** The Return of the King (1980 film) * The Lord of the Rings film trilogy directed by Peter… … Wikipedia
The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II — Developer(s) EA Los Angeles Publisher(s) … Wikipedia
The Lord of the Rings (disambiguation) — The Lord of the Rings is an epic high fantasy novel by J. R. R. Tolkien.The Lord of the Rings may also refer to:Film and exhibition* The Lord of the Rings (1978 film), a 1978 animated film directed by Ralph Bakshi * The Lord of the Rings film… … Wikipedia
The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game — Players 2+ Setup time < 10 minutes Playing time ≈1 hour per 500 points of miniatures (approx.) Random chance Medium High … Wikipedia
The Lord of the Rings — This article is about the novel. For other uses, see The Lord of the Rings (disambiguation). The Lord of the Rings Tolkien s own cover designs for the three volumes Volumes: The Fellowship of the Ring … Wikipedia