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Extended Version of <I>Return of the King</I> Due Dec. 14

27 Sep, 2004 By: Holly J. Wagner

Dec. 14 director Peter Jackson will die.

Not literally, but fans will get to see the death of his cameo character, a pirate in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, amid the nearly 50 minutes of additional footage in the four-disc special edition set streeting that day. Prebook is Nov. 9 for gift sets and Nov. 16 for single units.

“Fans of the book will be very excited about this one. There are scenes from the book that fans will be looking for, such as the House of Healing, where Aragorn facilitates Eowyn's healing from her battle wounds,” said Laura Abele, New Line Home Entertainment's director of marketing for the title. “It also sets up the romance between Faramir and Eowyn, which was only implied in the theatrical film.”

As with extended editions of the first two films, added footage is scattered throughout the extended Return, but a few sections have entire new scenes, including a rematch wizard's duel between Saruman and Gandalf, now Gandalf the White, in which Saruman gets his comeuppance. Also beefed up are the special effects, with more than 350 new effects in the extended version.

“Much of the effects are in the battle scenes. There was another fantastic scene added into the path of the dead, where [Jackson] created an avalanche of skulls that falls when the army of the dead have Legolas and Gimli surrounded. The avalanche is a very high-action scene, where they narrowly escape the cave they were in.”

Bonus materials are all new and include a documentary that follows the cast and crew as they bid farewell to the characters they have played over seven years of production. “We had camera crews following the cast going to the premieres around the world. It goes into how the thing wrapped up,” Abele said. “It was an emotional thing for these actors and how they bid farewell to their characters, and it is very moving.”

Other bonus materials include four separate audio commentaries that involve more than 30 cast and crew members, production documentaries and featurettes, design and photo galleries, interactive maps, and access to exclusive online features via DVD-ROM.

Besides single copies ($39.99 DVD, $24.99 VHS), the extended Return will be offered in a slipsleeved set of the three extended editions ($119.97) and a five-disc special collector's gift set that includes a polystone sculpture of Minas Tirith that hides a keepsake box and a fifth disc, “Howard Shore: Creating The Lord of the Rings Symphony — A Composer's Journey” ($79.92). Fans who bought extended editions of the first two films can also take advantage of a special offer to get a slipsleeve for the three extended editions. Those who bought the theatrical version will also be eligible for $5 and $10 rebates on the extended version.

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