May 15, 2001

Lord of the Rings Works Its Magic at Cannes
Staff Reporter

CANNES (Reuters): It's not in competition, it's not even finished, but the Hollywood adaptation of The Lord of the Rings still managed to cast a spell over the Cannes Film Festival on Friday. The first part of the $300 million ($NZ713.09 million) trilogy is due to reach cinema screens at Christmas and its producers are using Cannes to give the world a sneak preview.

Some 20 minutes of footage were shown to a select group of buyers and reporters late on Thursday and judging by initial reactions, JRR Tolkien's classic fantasy adventure looks on course to become a major hit.

Starring Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Sean Bean and Liv Tyler, the series was filmed in great secrecy in New Zealand over many months, with the press kept well clear of the set.

The shoot finished last Christmas and director Peter Jackson is now busy adding the thousands of special effects needed to bring to life Tolkien's amazing world of Hobbits, trolls, elves, dwarves, monsters and wizards.

"This footage arrived wet at the airport and our team has been blowing on it to get it dry," Jackson said at Thursday's screening. "This is work-in-progress... please judge it on that basis," he added.

If he was worried that he was going to receive the thumbs down, he was wrong. At the end of the sequence, the audience burst into applause.

The project's producers are planning a number of events throughout the Cannes festival to promote their picture and have even reconstructed some of the sets in a chateau near Cannes to show to visitors.

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