July 20, 2001
Glitches Hamper Progress
on Lord of the Rings Films
The eagerly awaited Lord of the Rings trilogy may be costing more than $270 million U.S., but apparently filmmakers fudged on the money for adequate soundproofing at the New Zealand studios where the movie was shot.
"The Wellington film studios not being soundproofed, almost all the dialogue has had to be replaced," writes star Ian McKellen on his personal Web site, www.mckellen.com . Several of McKellen's colleagues were called in to London sound studios to re-record their lines. But the project encountered an additional problem -- the prologue. So McKellen, who plays the wizard Gandalf in the trilogy, was flown back to New Zealand to shoot a new opening.
New Zealand producer-director Peter Jackson decided to abandon the original prologue because it wasn't audience friendly. McKellen is forthright in saying that he thinks Jackson made the right move. "A prologue, with its stash of names and facts, can unnerve audiences, and I am relieved that ours has gone."
The project has been shrouded in secrecy since filming began in New Zealand some 20 months ago. The first film in the trilogy, Fellowship of the Ring, is due for release Dec. 19, with the two other instalments set to arrive in December 2002 and December 2003. Although all actors, extras and support staff signed secrecy agreements before hiring, McKellen's Web site has been surprisingly informative.
Despite the glitches, McKellen says he's seen enough of the movie to know that it will be worth waiting for. "It's been greatly reassuring to be able to view the Gandalf scenes and to see how excitingly the story is being told and how movingly the characters relate to each other."
McKellen also had a glimpse of some of the first instalment's final scenes. "At the end of this first film, Frodo and Sam are separated from the rest and row across the river, destination Mount Doom: on even a scratchy video, Elijah Wood and Sean Astin are heart-breaking and couldn't be better. Trust me: it is magnificent."