by Julie Remy
TORONTO (Reuters) – An exclusive exhibit of props and costumes from the set of The Lord of the Rings is attracting record crowds to Toronto’s stately Casa Loma, organizers say.
The show of about 200 props in the hilltop castle broke attendance records with more than 4,000 admissions in one day. Some 500 people have been turned away from the mansion built at the beginning of the 20th century by local financier Sir Henry Pellatt and now owned by the city.
“It’s a big film, so we wanted to do something special in Toronto allowing the fans who are in love with this story to look behind the scenes,” said Frank Mendicino, a vice-president at Alliance Atlantis, which distributes the film in Canada.
The adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring will premiere in London on Dec. 10 and have its North American debut on Dec. 19.
“We made over 50,000 props for the movie, and everything is really realistic. The director Peter Jackson didn’t want anything looking like it had been made for a movie,” assistant set dresser Judith Alley told Reuters.
Over the past half century, Tolkien’s classic fantasy about hobbits, trolls, elves and wizards has sold an estimated 100 million copies worldwide, enchanting readers with the tale of Frodo the hobbit (played by Elijah Wood) who sets out to destroy the magic ring that would make the evil Saruman (Christopher Lee) all-powerful.
The props displayed at Casa Loma look so authentic that fans of the epic tale — adults and children — can enter the world of Tolkien.
The sumptuous costumes, worn by actors during the shooting of the film in New Zealand, gives the exhibit a museum-like feel, as if it were chronicling the life of an ancient people.
The exhibit, titled “A Journey to Middle Earth,” also diplays a Hobbit’s doll house with clay mugs and ancient-looking metal tools, elaborate jewelery and leather work, strange weapons, wooden curved furniture and a torture chamber.
A gallery of portraits and still photographs taken on the set, as well as drawings and sketches by Alan Lee and John Howe, who illustrated a Lord of the Rings book and collaborated on the film, offer an early glimpse of the movie.
The show, organized by Alliance Atlantis, was launched on Halloween day and runs to Nov. 11