By Stephen Galloway
On June 4, Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne, the co-chairmen of New Line Cinema, boarded Shaye’s private plane for a flight from Los Angeles to Wellington, New Zealand, accompanied by a handful of their top executives.
Shaye was nervous. Three weeks earlier, 26 minutes of footage from his ultra-high-profile “Lord of the Rings” trilogy had received a positive reception at the Cannes film festival, but Shaye himself still hadn’t seen a complete cut of the first movie, “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.” Now was his chance.
Two days after leaving L.A., Shaye, Lynne, two of their top deputies (Toby Emmerich and Rolf Mittweg), marketing chief Russell Schwartz, distribution head David Tuckerman, home entertainment president Steve Einhorn and Fine Line Features president Marc Ordesky sat down with director Peter Jackson in his screening room and watched as the first rough assemblage of the movie unspooled.
Its length was approximately three hours and 25 minutes, a good half-hour longer than any likely final cut. But insiders say Shaye and Lynne were thrilled with what they saw.
Thrilled. And relieved.
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