October 14, 1999
Starting Bell Sounds
for "Lord of the Rings"
Anal-retentive Star Wars
fanatics may have met their match. Followers of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings
fantasy novels are getting closer to their shot at scrutinizing every minute detail of a
big-screen trilogy adaptation of their beloved stories.
Principal photography for the New Line Cinema's trio
of films started today in Wellington, New Zealand.
And director Peter Jackson (Heavenly Creatures,
claims he is up to the task. "My team and I have poured our hearts into this project
for the past three years, so it's a great thrill to begin actual photography," he
said in a statement.
"Filming three films at once has never been
done before, in addition to which the project features state-of-the art special effects,
so it was essential to plan everything down to the last detail. We owe Professor Tolkien
and his legion of fans worldwide our very best efforts to make these films with the
integrity they deserve."
Elizabeth's Cate Blanchett, Armageddon's
Liv Tyler, Deep
Impact's Elijah Wood,
Gods and Monsters' Ian McKellen and Goonies
lead Sean Astin are
among the minions enlisted to help Jackson accomplish his task.
Wood plays Frodo Baggins, the young hobbit at the
center of the story. Austin is Sam Gamgee, Frodo's faithful friend. Blanchett stars as
Galadriel, the elf queen of Lorien, and Tyler will bat her baby blues as Arwen, a young
elf warrior and princess. McKellen's been cast as Gandalf, Frodo's wise wizard mentor.
The three-part movie series marks New Line's most
ambitious film project ever. The studio reportedly devoted nearly $150 million to the
project and has enlisted an army of distinguished crew members, ultra state-of-the-art
special effects gurus and artists renowned for their Tolkien illustrations. Experts from The Matrix, Contact, The Fifth Element
and Xena: Warrior Princess will all be on hand.
The three novels (The Fellowship of the Ring,
Two Towers, The Return of the King) that make up Lord of the Rings
have sold more than 50 million copies worldwide in 25 different languages, so the studio's
devotion to the project is hardly unfounded.
"The Lord of the Rings is among the
greatest adventures ever written, and making this film is proving to be a wonderful
adventure in its own right," says Michael DeLuca, president and CEO of New Line
Productions. "Like Frodo, the hero of this sage, we're on a film quest."
Fans are eagerly and cautiously anticipating the
trilogy--one Tolkien site showed over 2,000 comments posted from meticulous fans about the
film's casting alone. "This is sounding very promising indeed, hopefully the final
product is as good as its cast," says a cyberchatterer on the alt.fan.tolkien
Perhaps the first in what's guaranteed to be an
onslaught of Rings products, book publisher Houghton Mifflin is already cashing in
on the predicted fan phenomenon. Starting today, they're publishing a onetime-only
millennium edition of the Rings saga--presenting a boxed set of seven hard-cover
volumes of the six-part series.
Filming is scheduled to last
approximately one year. A release date has not been set for the first installment of the
series, but New Line officials say the film will not hit theaters before the 2001 holiday