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'Rings' Fan Site Spawns DVD

1 Nov, 2005 By: Jessica Wolf

It's a love story set in Middle Earth.When New Line's “The Lord of the Rings” films went into production, fans searched for news of the movies and dissected themes of the beloved J.R.R. Tolkien books on the Internet — largely through the Web site TheOneRing.net. The site and its users caught “Rings” director Peter Jackson's eye. Jackson and his crew not only read the site every day, but also started sending contributions to it.

Out of that collaboration grew a documentary all about “Rings” devotees, also known as “Ringers,” said Cliff Broadway, site contributing editor and writer-interviewer on Ringers: Lord of the Fans, due on DVD Nov. 22 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Filmmakers were in distribution talks with New Line, which released all three Jackson films, but Sony was more “passionate” about the project, said Ringers director Carlene Cordova, another TheOneRing.net contributor. With Sony's acquisition of MGM, which holds the rights to The Hobbit film adaptation, the studio is building a “Lord of the Rings” franchise of its own, she added.

Documentary filmmakers enjoyed plenty of access to the cast and crew of the New Line films. Every main character from the films is featured. Ringers also looks at the books' pop culture import. A booth at a Comic-Con convention garnered 250 interviews with some of the most intense ringers out there. The doc even takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the sometimes-wacky merchandising materials based on the series.

“I've always had a fascination with the phenomenon of fandom,” Cordova said.

The Ringers site effect may prove a trend. Jackson's newest project, King Kong, is getting similar fan Internet treatment on KongIsKing.net, for which Jackson has provided a regular video production diary. Universal Studios Home Entertainment is releasing those production diaries in a two-disc DVD set Dec. 13, the first time a studio has released behind-the-scenes extras ahead of the theatrical release.

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