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'Rings' Redux

20 Jun, 2006 By: Thomas K. Arnold

There hasn't been a new “Lord of the Rings” movie in nearly three years.

But that hasn't stopped New Line Home Entertainment from preparing new DVD versions of all three films in the franchise, which generated more than $1 billion in U.S. theaters and won 17 Academy Awards.

Three “Lord of the Rings: Limited Edition” sets, one for each movie, will roll out Aug. 29 (prebook July 25) at $28.98 each.

Each two-disc set will include both the original theatrical and the extended version of the film, along with Costa Botes' feature-length documentary on each film's creation.

Both versions of the three films — 2001's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, 2002's The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and 2003's The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King — have previously been released on DVD.

“But this is the first time they are available together, which we feel will appeal to the first-time buyer,” said New Line EVP of marketing Matt Lasorsa. Viewers can choose to watch the original theatrical versions or the extended versions through seamless branching.

New to DVD are the documentaries, in which director Peter Jackson and his crew gave Botes full access to the set for hours of behind-the-scenes footage.

“It's something fans have been asking for,” Lasorsa said. “Costa was hired a year before principal photography began, and his job was to capture all the production, relate his personal experiences and provide his perspective for Peter.”

Except for the first documentary's showing at the New Zealand Film Festival, none of the three video production diaries have been seen anywhere, Lasorsa said.

“New Line has owned these documentaries and waited to make them available to the general public,” said. “The style of these documentaries is quite different from the documentaries on the extended-edition DVDs. These are more organic, and had they come out sooner people might have been confused.”

While first-time buyers might be intrigued by the two versions of each film, ardent “Lord of the Rings” fans who already own the two previous DVD releases might be enticed to buy a third just for the documentaries.

“It gives us the chance to refresh the franchise,” Lasorsa said.

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