The LOTR Movie Site
November 8, 1999

On Lord of the Rings and Arwen's Part In It

Now, I know I am repeating myself at times here from my last writing, but those of you who read it will just have to bear with me a little.

Both of the previous people make very good, points on the idea that Arwen’s taking of Eowyn’s part in sneaking into battle would not be good for us as readers. The fact is, however that it won’t affect the movie- as much as we’d like to think it would. Remember that there are only (about) enough readers worldwide to make two weeks’ income for the show if it is successful. As I said before, we will make up a good part of repeat viewing, allowing the movie to be the Star Wars of the next century. Thinking that the average times a Star Wars fan went to the movie would be about four times per person (sure that’s probably off), then the movie wouldn’t make as much as Star Wars. Assuming the proposition that there are roughly 50 million Tolkien fans worldwide, and each saw the movie four times, that’s 200 million. About half of what Star Wars made. The movie would make less than Star Wars because it doesn’t have nearly the amount of widespread public appeal. It wouldn’t be the blockbuster New Line is hoping for based on our repeat viewing alone. They have to appeal to more people. So let’s look at it from a Hollywood standpoint.

There are a number of ways to get large amounts of repeat/one time viewing. One is to obtain a story that has a large appeal- that is already accomplished very well, though not as much so as other movies have been. Another is to have an appeal to both of the sexes- i.e. Braveheart. A third (and lesser) method is to come up with a story that has a plot twist at the end so the audience will come back to look for clues in the movie that will reveal the end. And the last is a love story- like the hugely successful, makes-me-grab-my-stomach-in-pain-whenever-I-think-about-it Titanic. (Or of course the movie could just plain be good- i.e. American Beauty). There are more, but I’ve taken up enough room rambling on as it is. Some movies have combined these methods effectively. Sixth Sense is an example, using mystery, so people will come back to look for clues, and having suspense for one sex, and dealing with other characters in a light enough manner to appeal to the other. It also has somewhat of a love story- though it can not be considered likely as a huge reason for its success, it did help in getting a female audience. Others just use one and rely upon special affects as well. (Titanic and Star Wars are examples.)

The Lord of the Rings trilogy has a huge potential in that, if it is managed well enough, it will have nearly all of these. A huge appeal to begin with, gaining fantasy and a large majority of horror/ sci-fi fans. Appealing to masculine audiences with massive battles and suspenseful parts, but having lighter characters and stories counterbalance them for those with estrogen in the audience. Among these lighter stories are those of love for Backstreet Boys fans who decide to love a movie as much as their soprano-singing male idols. (Keep in mind that this is less likely to happen to the same extent as Titanic or Notting Hill, but will still help in getting a female audience.) All topped off with special affects that (hopefully) dazzle our eyes. LOTR will have it all, but in order to, they have to get that female audience. Otherwise they lose a good part of the money

How do they do this? The love stories. It just plain has to be that they are better developed. Now, Eowyn and Faramir are taken care of rather well in the books, but there are others, which will boost that selfsame estrogen level in the movie seats. Namely Aragorn and Arwen. There is absolutely NO way that the love between Arwen/Aragorn could possibly be passed off in theatres if they go by the way that the books were written. To get those Hollywood dollars, there just plain has to be more of a love subplot to appeal a female audience (male appeal is, as I said, already covered in the book). So the question is, how do they go about getting that love sequence? Now, if you haven’t been to Ain’t-it-cool News, and read the interview that is supplied there with Peter Jackson, you should, because it gives lots of information on many subjects of the movie (this one included). He says in that interview that he needs to increase the love potential between Aragorn and Arwen in order to make it believable. That’s a given. He also says that he won’t make any drastic changes to the script in order to do so. What he means by this, only time will tell. But he likewise says that in the first movie, the journey from the Shire to Elrond will be shortened quite a bit. Consider this (and it is only my optimistic opinion): that the love between Aragorn and Arwen will be developed while at Rivendel. Spending more time there that would have been used in the original flight from the Shire. (I don’t like the idea of shortening that flight too much, but consider the options if you don’t- i.e. the whole Eowyn fiasco). Also, there is the resolution, in which more of love between the two (Arwen and Aragorn) can take place at the books’ end, when she chooses him over her immortality.

It seems to me that this will be used if Arwen takes over Eowyn’s part or not, but we do have an Academy AwardŽ nominated writer on our hands here, people. As well as a Tolkien fan. Combining those two things, chances are that the book will not be changed so much for the sake of money. The other thing we need to think about (as was mentioned a bit before by others) is Eowyn’s importance to the movie, in terms of story as well as money. Story-wise, Faramir’s significance is much less without her, and she does provide a number of other good points that will surely provide more of a female audience. First, a love triangle of Eowyn’s and Arwen’s love for Aragorn and when Eowyn tries to follow him adds a tension as to what choice Aragorn will make, and when he does the right thing, the audience is satisfied for him, but crushed with the princess. The other thing is that without her, there is a huge loss of a second love element in the movie, which would likely have more appeal to females than just the one story.

To elaborate, let’s look at the three movies, and how the love subplots in each would be with and without Eowyn. In the first movie, we have only Arwen, and the love that will (if my predictions are right) be established between her and Aragorn- Eowyn’s part thus far makes no difference. In the second movie, Eowyn comes in to play, and we have the tension I talked about before, with the possibility of their love and the remembrance of Arwen, etc. If Eowyn does not, and she is just a featured extra (or not in it at all), then there is no love element in the entire second movie, which will likely lower the income of that movie considerably due to lack of a female audience. Then in the third movie (if Eowyn is a part of it), the tension would mount and build up to the point when Aragorn bids her not come with him, and he following anyway. After, Faramir and her love story occurs, ending happily for everyone. If Arwen takes her place, then (as was mentioned before) the grounds for the winning of the first battle with Rohan and Sauron will be changed quite a lot. The love subplot(s) that females so desire benefits, from my point of view, if Eowyn stays in the movie.

The fact remains, however, that it will be up to Mr. Jackson and company to make that decision. If they keep Eowyn, then they are much more likely to get our $200 million as well as the money of a female-based audience. It would likely more benefit New Line if they kept the character as it is. That’s just my two cents, take it as you want it.