Tracking Trailers - The Trades

The Trades, an entertainment marketing analysis website, thinks that Lord of the Rings has a good chance of overcoming the marketing hype and becoming a blockbuster but laments that Jackson "forgot to diversify his cast" with non-white actors.

It should be noted that the author, Alex Keen, is not well-acquainted with the books. But that does not make his perspective invalid. Movie analysts like Mr. Keen and movie reviewers see hundreds of films each year, and it is not realistic to expect them to be acquainted with every book upon which a film adapation they see is based. Indeed, the average movie-goer who will see Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings films will not have read the original books.

Therefore, the average movie-goer might well have the same initial reaction to an all-white cast as Mr. Keen, which makes his article all that more relevant. You may not agree with what Mr. Keen has to say in his final remarks, but Tolkien scholars ought to be interested in what 21st Century Society's reaction to the story might be.

Tracking Trailers

by Alex Keen

The Trades

Lord of the Rings - Starring Elijah Wood, Ian McClellan, Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Cate Blanchett, and John Rhys-Davies. Written and Directed by Peter Jackson. Original Story by J.R.R. Tolkien. Release by New Line Cinema on December 19th, 2001. Rated PG-13 or less (upcomingmovies.com). Trailer Link: Hi-Res Quicktime.

Widely assumed to be the most anticipated film of 2001, the trailer already has as much buzz as Episode One. Fanboys lined up outside of "Thirteen Days" to catch a glimpse at New Line's biggest film series ever. Peter Jackson has the amazing task of creating a fantasy world that is responsible for the current Dungeons & Dragons craze.

So far Tolkien's tales about Middle Earth, Hobbits, Dwarves, Trolls, Wizards, Dragons, and a Gollum, have been used as the basis for endless dice games, novels, LARPs, video games, and sermons. It is one of the most interesting tales ever published. And the fan base is rather prominent.

So far Tolkien's tales about Middle Earth, Hobbits, Dwarves, Trolls, Wizards, Dragons, and a Gollum, have been used as the basis for endless dice games, novels, LARPs, video games, and sermons. It is one of the most interesting tales ever published. And the fan base is rather prominent.

As the film goes, winning an uphill battle is not impossible. "Batman," "X-Men," "Conan," and others were able to capture the atmosphere of the source, and still survive as solid product. And from the quality of images shared from LOTR so far, it looks likely that Peter Jackson knows what he is doing (QuickTime Making-Of Link).

As a warning to you all, I'd like to point out that hype-machines are difficult to topple. When the trailer for "The Phantom Menace" came out, fans across the globe were amazed at the scenes, sounds, and imagery. And then the film arrived. And then the attacks began. Fans expected way too much and Lucas was unable to deliver. That is the gamble when it comes to making blockbusters. Sometimes you're lucky ("Titanic," "Mission: Impossible 2," and "The Mummy"), sometimes you break even ("Armageddon"), and sometimes you bomb ("Battlefield: Earth," and "Little Nicky"). That is the way the blockbuster cookie crumbles.

Now onto the target audience analysis of this column. Obviously it will have a large audience of Fantasy fans, and science fiction crazies. On top of that I'd also add in a large proportion of English Literature scholars and readers. Professors throughout the nation will go to see if digital effects can capture the imagination of a great storyteller. As for the women, I'd say a film of this size does not discriminate. Therefore the audience should be a decent mix. I have come across many female fans of "Willow," and I don't doubt they will be seeing LOTR. Just expect more men than women (like Star Wars). Unfortunately, Jackson decided not to cast any minority actors in major roles, which I think would strengthen the culture of the film. Often blockbusters fail to acknowledge a non-White world. How could Middle-earth exist with only one race of beings. Granted there are "races," it seems that Jackson forgot to diversify his cast.

LOTR is going to be big. That is no shocker. I just hope that is will be as enjoyable as it is interesting.


Do you agree with this author that Peter Jackson should have appealed to today's racial concerns by casting some non-white actors? Post your comments below or on our Messageboard.

Note: We have already informed the author of this article that Middle-earth is meant to represent a mythical Europe of 6000 years ago. Please do not contact him about Tolkien's or Peter Jackson's handling of racial issues -- he has already received enough correspondance about the matter.

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