The LOTR Movie Site
March 16, 2000

LOTR Movie Debate: An Analogy
Joshua Miller

I remember when Coca-Cola introduced Diet Coke.  Is Diet Coke just like Coke? No. Does anyone expect Diet Coke to be just like Coke? No. Without the sugar, it's impossible to make it just like Coke. People drink Diet Coke because it's as close as we can get to Coke, without getting all of the sugar. Diet Coke is quite popular. I would call it an enormous success for Coca-Cola.

I also remember when Coca-Cola introduced New Coke. People were outraged. It was hated. Was New Coke disgusting, did it make people Ill? No. Why was it so hated? Because it wasn't our beloved Coke. Coke is probably the most popular soft drink (I know, if you're in the North you'd say Pepsi, but Coke's at least second if not first) and people saw no reason to go changing the successful formula. New Coke was a fiasco. I would call it an enormous failure for Coca-Cola (unless they were actually tricking us to make Coke Classic popular again, but that's another matter).

To extend the analogy, what about RC Cola? Would people be up in arms if they tried to change RC? Probably not. It just doesn't have the popularity of Coke. I'd probably try it, and if it was good, I might stick with it.

What does all this mean? LOTR is just absolutely NOT a good candidate for adaptation. It is one of the most (if not THE most) beloved stories ever written.  L.A. Confidential was a good candidate for adaptation. I had never heard of it before the movie came out. That's not to say it wasn't a fantastic story to begin with (I've since read it and enjoyed it very much) but they just weren't taking the risk of upsetting millions of people by changing it around. Look, we know it's impossible to make the LOTR movies exactly like the books. If it means some things might not make the movie (sorry Bombadil, I think you would have been a great movie character) we understand. If it means that scenes are added or changed (shown as they happen as opposed to flashbacks / memories) we understand. Just DO NOT GO CHANGING THE STORY FOR NO REASON, OR FOR THE WRONG REASONS. I just don't want my beloved Tolkien World to be changed just to suit some pre-conceived Hollywood notion (a cookie cutter if you will) for making movies.  Is that so wrong?

Here's what my reaction will be. If Arwen wears a sword and rides into battle, I will see the movie, but be extremely disappointed (and will make judgment calls on whether to bother with the other two). If Arwen is part of the fellowship, I WILL NOT SEE THE MOVIE, PERIOD. They have an opportunity to make one of the greatest movies of all time, and also one of the most successful. It is us, the Tolkien die-hards, who will make or break this movie financially. If they change the story too much, it will be one of Hollywood's biggest blunders of all time.

In conclusion, returning to the analogy, please, PJ, all we want is 'Diet Tolkien'.   Please don't try to give us 'New Tolkien'.