May 30, 2001'Trust Me, It Is Magnificent,' Sir Ian
Steve Rendle A new beginning to The Lord Of The Rings movie trilogy is being shot just eight months out from its world premiere, according to English star Sir Ian McKellen.
Writing on his personal website, McKellen, who plays the wizard Gandalf, said he was called back to New Zealand in April for additional filming on the $600 million production because "the very opening of the film" was changed.
But he describes the first moments of completed film he has seen as "magnificent".
Fans have also scooped Rings production company New Line Cinema by posting a new two-minute trailer for the film on unofficial website theonering.net before it appeared on the official site.
McKellen said the original prologue to the first film, The Fellowship of the Ring, had been abandoned and the stories of Isildur and of Smeagol, who found and lost the ring in the Hobbit, introduced.
"Gandalf's arrival in Hobbiton for Bilbo's 111th birthday party of magnificence now opens the movie just as it opens the first book, but it has been expanded to help with the exposition. Hence the need for extra filming."
McKellen said "almost all of the dialogue" in the film had to be re-recorded because the Weta studios in Miramar were not soundproofed.
Actors Sean Bean, Ian Holm and Christopher Lee have re-recorded their lines in London.
But a spokeswoman for Peter Jackson's production company Three Foot Six, Melissa Booth, said the re-recording of actors' lines, known as ADR, or additional dialogue recording, was a scheduled part of the production.
"It's a normal thing whenever you have any outside noises," she said yesterday.
"You always do a lot of ADR on a movie ... quite often you have a plane overhead or something like that. I don't think there's any film studio in New Zealand that is soundproofed."
She said the film remained on schedule for its December 19 world premiere in Los Angeles. A New Zealand premiere has yet to be confirmed but is expected to before Christmas, with the film opening nationwide on Boxing Day.
McKellen said he had "half-hoped" to see the current version of the first film "but there still isn't anything complete enough to be called a film - rather an over-long string of scenes without music, special effects or polished editing".
But he has seen enough to be impressed.
He described as "heart-breaking" a scene at the end of the first film where Elijah Wood and Sean Astin, as Frodo and Sam, are shown heading for Mount Doom.
It was further enhanced by music written by Howard Stone and performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and a male choir.
"I sat behind Peter Jackson huddled over a monitor showing the footage of Sam and Frodo in their rowboat.
"As the majestic Fellowship theme soared over the pictures ... I heard and saw the first moment of completed film. Trust me: it is magnificent."
The new trailer for the film will be screened before the movie Pearl Harbor, which opens in New Zealand on June 7.