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Fans Line Up for 'Lord of the Rings' Blu-ray

28 Jun, 2011 By: Chris Tribbey

LOS ANGELES —  For nearly 24 hours, 18-year-old Sagar Sharma sat outside a Best Buy in West Los Angeles just to be the first to buy the 15-disc The Lord of the Rings Motion Picture Trilogy: Extended Edition Blu-ray from Warner Home Video.

“I told my boss I was going to New York for a week for my birthday. A total lie,” the Santa Clarita, Calif. resident admitted June 27, shortly before the midnight release of the set. More than 100 other die-hard fans were lined up behind Sharma.

That may seem like commitment, but Nicole Roberts had them all beat. The Texas native, dressed as a Balrog Showgirl, took home the prize of the night: an all-expense-paid “Lord of the Rings” trip to New Zealand. 

“I’m so flattered; it’s mind-blowing,” said Roberts, 35. She beat out 11 other costumed “Lord of the Rings” characters. Executives of Weta Workshop, the special effects company behind the franchise, judged the contest via Skype.

“I now have an all-access pass to ‘Lord of the Rings,’” Roberts said, nearing tears.

This level of fandom for a catalog disc release may seem unwarranted, but the “Lord of the Rings” faithful, retailers, franchise stars and Warner all are on the same page: This Blu-ray release earns the hoopla. The set ($119.98) includes a new transfer of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, and more than 26 hours of bonus material, including several feature-length documentaries.

“There are certain crown jewels in our library that deserve this kind of attention,” said Derek Maddalena, VP of sales and retail marketing at Warner Home Video. “We owe this to the fans. You can’t buy this kind of passion.”

Richard Hibben, Los Angeles district manager for Best Buy, recounted arriving to work before the release and seeing a line of Frodos, Gandalfs and orcs already waiting.

“There’s a lot of excitement with our customers for this one,” Hibben said. “They don’t usually dress up like this.”

Even stars of the film couldn’t help but smile while watching die-hard fans show up at midnight on a Monday, just to honor this franchise.

“I think it’s a wonder,” said “Lord of the Rings” actor John Noble (Denethor). “Ten years down the track, we’re still celebrating it.”

And it’s a good bet “LOTR” will be celebrated this way again soon.

Since 2002 there have been more than 20 individual or collection releases of the “Lord of the Rings” franchise on disc, culminating in this all-encompassing Blu-ray edition. Many buying the set at midnight admitted they were replacing an earlier version. 

With two “The Hobbit” prequels set through 2013, this may not be the last time they reinvest.

“We will listen to the consumer,” Maddalena said, when asked about another collection down the line. “If they want another version, we’ll give it to them.”

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