In a digital overload befitting Peter Jackson’s super-sized Tolkien epic, New Line Home Entertainment has announced plans to release two separate DVD editions of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring later this year–which, all told, will feature six separate discs of Hobbit goodies.
The theatrical DVD version of the Oscar-winning film will hit stores August 6, in a two-DVD set featuring two hours of bonus material and a sneak preview of Jackson’s sequel The Two Towers, which opens in theaters December 18.
Then on November 12, New Line will release a “Special Extended Edition” of The Lord of the Rings that adds about 30 minutes of footage to the already three-hour movie. Studio officials predict that, because of explicit footage, the new version may even carry an R rating. (The theatrical version was PG-13.)
“I didn’t want to call this a director’s cut, because, essentially, both are director’s cuts,” Jackson told reporters Tuesday via satellite from New Zealand, where he’s editing the next installment, The Two Towers. “That’s why we’re calling [the second release] a ‘Special Extended Edition’…[The new footage] was always supposed to be in the film. There will be more character moments and more visual-effects shots.”
The four-disc special-edition set also will include six hours of additional material, including a behind-the-scenes documentary and director’s commentary.
Additionally, there will be a limited-edition gift set also available in November containing the Special Extended Edition, a National Geographic “Beyond the Movie” DVD, artwork by Tolkein illustrator Alan Lee and special bookends custom made by Sideshow Weta, the group responsible for LOTR’s special effects.
It might all seem a bit much, but “a mammoth movie requires a mammoth DVD,” notes Peter Bracke, editor of DVDfile.com. Bracke is already predicting the discs will break sales records. (Shrek is the current recordholder, with nearly $450 million in disc sales, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone could also challenge the mark when it comes out on DVD in May.)
“Unlike Pearl Harbor, it seems this is the kind of movie that warrants this treatment,” he says. “But I don’t even want to know what New Line is spending on this.”
Now that you asked: The studio is forking over $65 million for the marketing alone.
As for the extended edition, Jackson once again enlisted his effects team and composer Howard Shore to work on the 30 minutes of new footage. Here’s a rundown of the extra scenes:
- Bilbo’s journal, “Concerning Hobbits”: A brief introduction to the history of Hobbits, which comes after the introductory prologue about the creation of the ring.
- The introduction of Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin)–a scene that had showed him doing his gardening work.
- More footage from the Green Dragon Inn, with Merry and Pippin singing Hobbit songs.
- Sam and Frodo (Elijah Wood) on the road to Bree, during which they see an exodus of elves.
- Aragon song: Viggo Mortensen singing an Elvish song foreshadowing his relationship with Arwen (Liv Tyler).
- Aragorn in Rivendell at the site of his mother’s grave.
- An extended scene in which the Fellowship leave Rivendell.
- New scenes, pre-battle, from the Mines of Moria, which explain the history of the mines.
- Cate Blanchett‘s character giving a special gift to each member of the Fellowship before they depart.
- Thirty more seconds of footage from the film’s climactic battle scene.
The two-disc set will be available in wide-screen or full-screen for $29.95. No word on the price of the other versions. New Line will also release VHS versions of both the theatrical and extended cuts at the same time as the respective DVDs.
So far, Fellowship has grossed nearly $300 million at the domestic box office and $800 million worldwide, putting it in the top 10 all-time moneymakers. The film also picked up four Oscars on Sunday.