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The Numbers

1954 -- the first two books of "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy were published.
1955 - the Return of the King was published, completing the trilogy
7,000 - years ago: when Middle Earth is said to have existed.
100,000,000 - estimated number of people worldwide who have read the trilogy.
40 - languages (at least) into which the books have been translated.
12,500,000 --hand-linked rings used to create chain maille by Weta workshop for the films.
3,000,000 - feet of film (at least) used to film the trilogy.
250,000 - silk leaves applied by hand to a tree in Hobbiton.
90,000 - still photographs shot on set.
48,000 - swords, scabbards, axes, shields made by Weta workshop for the films.
20,602 - extras cast for the films.
15,000 - costumes made by costume department for the films.
10,000 - members of crowd at New Zealand cricket game recorded making Orc sounds.
5,000 - cubic meters of vegetables and flowers planted in Hobbiton a year before filming started.
2,400 - crew members at height of production.
2,000 - illustrations drawn for production by conceptual designer Alan Lee.
1,600 - pairs of prosthetic Hobbit feet used by principal Hobbit cast.
1,460 - largest number of eggs served at breakfast for crew.
800 - largest number of lunches served on set at once.
900 - suits of armor made by Weta workshop.
550 - hours of film (at least) shot on set for behind-the-scenes footage.
350 - sets constructed for films.
300 - handmade, knotted wigs made for films.
274 - shooting days for trilogy.
250 - horses used in one scene.
200 - individually crafted Orc masks created by Weta workshop.
180 - artists created computerized effects at Weta digital.
114 - speaking roles.
100 - locations, at least.
100 - hand-forged, inlaid weapons crafted by Weta workshop.
68 - miniature sets.
30 - actors trained by two dialect and creative languages coaches.
13 - months the Fellowship travels on its journey in the trilogy.
9 - the numeral, in Elvish script, tatooed on nine members of the cast following the shoot.
8 - acres of farm land in Matamata, New Zealand, used for set of Hobbiton.
7 - years of development of the film trilogy by writer/producer/director Peter Jackson.
5 - shooting units : Unit 1, two second units, blue-screen unit and miniature unit.
3 - films were shot simultaneously, a first.

Numbers source: New Line Productions

The Lord of the Rings

Directed by Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson was eighteen years old when he first read The Lord of the Rings on a twelve-hour train ride. He didn't finish the book during the train ride, but he remembers thinking, "This trilogy is so amazing, I hope one day someone makes it into a movie so I can see it" For years he waited for someone else to make the film. He waited so long, in fact, that he finally felt compelled to make it himself. At forty years old, Peter Jackson has worked on the film trilogy for seven years pouring his heart into every aspect of the project. He's the first director in history to simultaneously write, direct and produce three feature films at once

Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh began developing the screenplay with Miramax on the understanding that two films would be produced.

"So we did the screenplays. We developed them over the course of about two years. At the same time as writing the scripts, Miramax were also putting a lot of money into, basically, pre-production on the film.

We hired a team of 30 or 40 people. We were designing the movie. We were location scouting. We had visual effects being done. We had monsters being made. Computer work was happening. A lot of money was spent. In fact, it was about $20 million got spent during this time"

They then realised that to make the two films, it would cost about $130 -$140 million dollars.  Miramax had only budgeted on $75million and so asked PJ to compress the story into one film.  At this suggestions, Peter backed out of the project, realising that it would be disastrous with so much of the story being missed out in a two hour film.  So they got back on their aeroplane and returned to New Zealand.   In the meantime Harvey Weinstein of Miramax was keen that the money and time invested so far did not go to waste, and suggested that rather than scrap all their hard work, they try to find someone who would reimburse him and agree to make two films from it. 

"And so we decided to make a documentary, we got a video team in. We interviewed ourselves, you know, talking about The Lord of the Rings. It was like The Making of The Lord of the Rings"

By the time PJ arrived back in LA, every studio that had been shown the video had turned them down, and were not interested in making two films and paying back Harvey.  There were only two interviews left.  The first with Polygram proved unsuccessful, even though they liked the idea, because Polygram was being sold.

The final interview was with Bob Shay of New Line.  They went in and put in the 36 minute video presentation.  At the end Bob said,

``I don't get it.''

"I don't get it. Why would you be wanting to do two The Lord of the Rings films? It's three books, isn't it? Shouldn't it be three films?''

And I (PJ) thought, ''What's he, what's he saying here? What's he, what's he saying here?''

And he said, ''Look, we're interested'' but we're basically interested in three movies.

PJ headed straight back to New Zealand where he spent the next 18 months reworking the screen play, and eventually began production in October 1999

"The past seven years my life has been consumed with writing, directing and producing "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. It has been an exhausting journey, not unlike that of our fictional protagonists, Frodo and Sam; there has not been much sleep, no time for a normal life and there were days when we all wondered if we would make it to the end.

Two years of pre-production were followed by two hundred and seventy four days of principal production, which in turn have been followed by three years of post-production. Each stage of the process of making these films has presented unique challenges; I remember asking myself, whenever things got particularly hard, would I rather be doing something other than making "The Lord of the Rings"?

And the answer was always no.

Peter Jackson


Download the Trailer, Lord of the Rings The Journey here



Contributed by Elril Galia

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