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Comic-Con Attendees Get Extended ‘Return of King' Preview

26 Jul, 2004 By: Jessica Wolf

SAN DIEGO — “Lord of the Rings” fans will get 50 added minutes of footage and 300 new effects shots on the extended version of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King DVD, which will be in stores by December, New Line Home Entertainment (NLHE) announced Friday at the Comic-Con International Convention.

Nearly 7,000 fans — some of whom began lining up seven hours before the presentation — were the first to be treated to a preview reel of that extended footage, introduced by a special clip from Peter Jackson recorded just for Comic-Con during which he apologized for not showing up in person.

“All you geeks are there, and here I am, a geek stuck in New Zealand,” he said.

The packed house cheered at the snippets of extended footage, which included glimpses of the downfall of Sauruman, more details of Aragorn's journey to the battle at Minas Tirith, more of Sam and Frodo masquerading as Orcs, and the “Houses of Healing” segments in which Faramir and Eowyn fall in love.

And the mouth of Sauron is in the DVD — the horrific Orc who speaks for Sauron and leads Aragorn, Gandalf and the army that marched with them to the black gate of Mordor to believe that Frodo is dead.

NLHE VP of DVD content Mike Mulvihill, DVD producer Michael Pellerin, “Lord of the Rings” producer Rick Porrus and stars Billy Boyd (Pippin) and David Wenham were on hand to share clips of even more footage from the upcoming DVD, tell stories of filming the movie and the extended interviews, and take questions.

Working on the final extended edition was a different process than the first two releases, said Pellerin and Porrus. There was a bit less pressure because filmmakers weren't backed up trying to get another theatrical release out at the same time, but it was poignant and nostalgic knowing it was the last time, they said.

It's a lot of hard work to deliver the some 20 hours of additional content the four-disc set will hold, but that's made easier by the willingness of the cast and crew to spend hours recounting stories, Pellerin said.

“I've worked on a lot of DVDs, and I've never experienced the kind of cooperation from the studio, the cast — everyone just went to the wall for this,” he said.

“Elijah Wood basically called and said, ‘I'm going to need 16 hours, no less' [of DVD interview time],” he added.

The cast was prodded by the DVD documentarians who were with filming every step of the way and know things the cast may have forgotten, Boyd joked pointing at Pellerin.

“He makes us sit and do interviews for four days, five hours a day until you feel quite sick ... and they won't let you go to the bathroom until you tell them something new,” he said.

In all seriousness, Boyd said he enjoys contributing to the DVD because “in 20 or 30 years, I want to be able to go back and remember everything.”

One of his favorite moments that's been changed for the DVD release of Return of the King is when Merry is wounded on the battlefield and Pippin is searching for him. In the theatrical version, Pippin finds his friend quickly after the battle, but on the DVD version, Pippin and friends search all day for Merry, and Pippin continues the search into the night after the rest have given up. The scene was changed from day to night for the DVD via digital color grading. There's an added level of emotion when the two hobbits are finally reunited, Boyd said.

Wenham said he enjoyed working on the DVDs and seeing how extended scenes with his character help better tell the story of Faramir's relationship to his father and brother and, of course, his romance with Eowyn.

Wenham said one of his favorite scenes from the whole trilogy is a moment with Billy Boyd, shortly after Pippin becomes a guard of the Citadel of Minas Tirith. The scene is part of the extended edition and was screened for the crowd at Comic-Con.

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