The LOTR Movie Site
October 9, 1999

The Importance of Tolkien Movies

I can't say how many interpretations I have read about the upcoming Lord of the Rings trilogy. And I can't say how many I've disagreed with. Every writer emphasizes the importance of staying with the books, and the idea that we (the Tolkien readers) all be satisfied. While these are important, there are factors that everybody is missing.

Around 50 million books of Tolkien have been sold, around the world. Nowadays, top movies in this country make over 20 million per week on average. We all know this movie is going to open big, so we'll say that at the worst, it make 25 million. Together, if ALL of us went to see the movie only once, because it didn't follow the books, we'd cover two weeks. The money will be in pleasing the rest of the world's population. If it pleases us, we will (most likely) make up that repeat viewing that the companies so crave and desire. We, as well as those who will read the book after the first movie, will make Lord of the Rings the Star Wars of the new millennium (what a way to start the century). That's where the importance in pleasing us comes in.  No matter how much it stinks, the Trilogy will make money (Episode 1 stank, and look at the 400 million it raked in).

But for that matter don't sell Mr. Jackson short. He has been nominated for an Oscar after all, and for writing! So we can at least be assured that the script will be good, even if it's not the way we would have interpreted it. To show the real importance of the books becoming movies, we have to go beyond that piece of the book that we're worried won't be included in the films, who it will please and how much it will please them etc. The fact is that before Star Wars came along, science fiction did not have near the popularity that it did afterwards and probably wouldn't be as successful a movie genre as it is today. Should this trilogy be successful, it will most likely start (at the very least) a fad of fantasy movies. Should these movies be as well-planned out and smart as Lord of the Rings appears to be, that sounds all well and good. But this could also backfire.

I'm sure we can all remember those crappy sci-fi movies that should have never made it into the theatres. Considering the quality of past fantasy films, we might not want that. But if the movies can remain of high quality, I see no reason why we wouldn't see more fantasy films in theatres. The entire genre (of both films and of books) would get much more respect than they are currently. And we would get into more varieties of action movies -- less shoot 'em ups and arms and armor. Gradual steps have already been taken by actor Antonio Banderas (Zorro and The 13th Warrior). While, admittedly, these movies needed a little help with their writing, they were a welcome break from other action movies of the summer. And I wouldn't mind seeing more of it.