A short proposal for an Alternate Ending for Volume III and to wrap up the LotR. - (or...How to try to please everybody!)
Here, I'm looking at just what's been said about the ending of the Return of the King.
We are all aware that Jackson's poor dealing with Sarumon and the Razing of the Shire has been considered by some Tolkien Fans to be an unforgivable abomination because Jackson ignores a major underlying point of the book that he himself touched on: no one can afford to try to ignore the world's problems no matter how much of an irrelevant backwater you may think you're in.
But there have also been complaints from non-Tolkienophiles about the ending being too long and drawn out. They're legit too.
At first glance, these criticisms are at opposite extremes - is there a way that both sides could be made happy?
Well I hope so. I guess if I wrote the screenplay, I would have dealt with the entire problem by ending v3 much earlier - - pretty much when the 8 of 9 reunite and discovers that everyone else did okay (Rivendell, perhaps?). This would have eliminated the "too drawn out" complaints.
For the final chapters - - because the confrontation with Sarumon in the Shire really is critical to the book's underlying themes - - would be planned as a special 4th installment. I'll leave it up to the Marketing Guru's to decide if it goes to Theater, or is released directly to Video/DVD...I'd recommend the latter. The idea is that with this approach, the "drawn out" stuff mostly of interest to the Tolkien Faithful's gets addressed.
But here's the most important point:
Since RofK won't be on DVD/Video for awhile, its not too late to still do just this.
To shorten RotK in a "Special Director's Cut" is easy.
What's left is some new filming of some Shire Razing scenes and some CGI work to put together "v3.5" I think that they've made enough money to do this, and if they follow past Video releases, they have a year to do it in.
Finally, you could also do some very nice tasteful things that only the True Fans would understand during the final credits to 3.5 roll, such as showing some elements that Tolkien only wrote about in the Appendix...for example, Sam's final destiny comes to mind.