Sci-Fi Magazine
June 20, 2000

Orcs Thunder Across the Net in LOTR Preview
Sci-Fi Reporter

Fan sites heavily promoted a two-minute preview on the film's official Web site at http://www.lord-of-the-rings.com, where it drew 1.7 million hits in the first 24, blowing away the one-million-hit record set last year by a similar Internet release of the Star Wars: Episode I trailer. The Lord of the Rings preview feature interviews with cast members and director Peter Jackson, but what everyone really wanted to see was the clips which include the computer-generated Gollum, columns of marching Orcs, lush New Zealand backdrops, and Ian McKellen as the wizard, Gandalf the Grey. (To view the preview you need the very latest version of QuickTime, which can be downloaded from the site. Note that the preview itself is a long download.)

Based on the acclaimed series of novels by J.R.R. Tolkien, the film series' mammoth production boasts a crew of more than four-hundred people, including stars McKellen, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, and Liv Tyler. All three films (The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King) are being shot simultaneously, and New Line is aiming for release dates in 2001, 2002, and 2003.

Because those dates are still a long way off, marketing staff at New Line recently told Variety that they're working with some 25 fan Web sites in an effort to build and maintain enthusiasm. "I was trying to turn the long window between production and release into an asset," Joe Nimziki, president of theatrical marketing, told the magazine. Additional teaser footage likely will be posted on the Internet in the future, he said.

Tolkien purists might want to start bracing themselves now, though, as sources report the script departs somewhat from the classic novels. In particular, the romance between Arwen (Tyler) and Aragorn (Viggo Mortenson) has been beefed up, and an army of elves joins the battle at Helm's Deep, which never happened in the books.

Shooting in New Zealand has involved constructing elaborate sets like the full-sized village of Hobbiton, where the hobbits' dwellings were built into beautifully green rolling hills overlooking pastures complete with grazing sheep. Two different hobbit holes were constructed in soundstages, one hobbit-sized and one large enough to accommodate the actors playing the hobbits. (Unlike the actors, hobbits are three-and-a-half feet tall.) On his official site, McKellen reports that both sets were identical, except that in the smaller one, he bumps his head on the rafters when visiting hobbits at home.