LOTR - New Line Cinema to Produce Trilogy of Films Based on J.R.R. Tolkien's 'The Lord of the Rings' for Director Peter Jackson


Last Update: 16 June 2000


24 August 1998

Source: The Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 24,1998/PRNewswire/ -- New Line Cinema will commit
more than $130 million to produce a live action, special effects-packed trilogy
of films based on J.R.R. Tolkien's internationally renowned fantasy novel `The
Lord of the Rings,` it was announced today by Robert Shaye, Chairman and
Chief Executive Officer of New Line Cinema, Michael Lynne, President and
Chief Operating Officer of New Line Cinema, Michael De Luca, President
and Chief Operating Officer of New Line Productions, and Mark Ordesky,
President of Fine Line Features. Peter Jackson will co-write, co-produce and
direct the franchise, which will be executive produced by Academy
Award-winning film legend Saul Zaentz. Jackson's longtime production
partner Fran Walsh will co-write and co-produce the films through the
director's WingNut Films banner.

New Line picked-up the rights to `Lord of the Rings` and Tolkien's other
seminal classic `The Hobbit` from Miramax Films. Miramax co-chairmen Bob
and Harvey Weinstein will serve as executive producers of the potential
franchise. New Line's deal also includes worldwide merchandising rights to
consumer products based on the film property.

The company may release the trilogy as a Christmas-summer-Christmas event
series during the 2000-2001 calendar year. The films will be produced
consecutively and all will be shot on location in New Zealand. Principal
photography will last approximately one year, and it is expected that
production will begin by mid-1999. Weta Digital, Jackson's innovative special
effects firm based in New Zealand, will be responsible for the elaborate
computer generated visuals demanded of the epic project.

`This deal represents a unique collaboration between competitors in the
independent film world, and an unprecedented production commitment on
behalf of New Line Cinema,` Shaye said. `Anyone who is familiar with
Tolkien's work knows that this is one of the most internationally beloved
pieces of fiction ever produced. We are completely committed to Peter
Jackson's vision for this trilogy, and we will make sure that he has the
necessary logistical, financial and creative support to complete a project of
this size and scope.`

Jackson has been developing the trilogy for more than two years while
working with his groundbreaking visual effects team to perfect proprietary
computer programs that will be used during the complex production and
post-production process.

`It has taken 45 years for filmmaking technology to finally catch up with
Tolkien's imagination,` Jackson said. `We are fortunate down here in New
Zealand to have both the computer technology and the natural landscapes to
bring the unique world of Middle Earth to life. It's very exciting to be making
'The Lord of the Rings' as a trilogy. Shooting three feature films back-to-back
has never been done before, and it shows tremendous vision on the part of
Bob Shaye and New Line Cinema. Not only will we create a unique
cinematic event, but we will be treating Tolkien's work with the respect and
integrity it deserves.`

Added Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of Miramax Films, `Given our
long-term relationship with Peter Jackson dating back to his Academy
Award-nominated 'Heavenly Creatures,' and our respect for Bob Shaye,
Michael Lynne and their excellent team at New Line, we're pleased that
Peter's vision for 'Lord of the Rings' will be realized.`

Demonstrating the enormous popularity of Tolkien's work, `Lord of the
Rings` has sold more than 50 million copies worldwide while being translated
into 25 different languages. `The numbers support our enthusiasm for the
project,` Shaye said, adding `we believe international interest, licensing and
promotional opportunities will be extraordinary.`

Fine Line Features President Mark Ordesky was instrumental in securing the
project, and he will oversee the project on behalf of the studio along with
New Line Productions President Michael De Luca.

`Peter's creative foresight, technological prowess, and passion for the project
uniquely qualify him to translate one of the world's most imaginative novels to
the screen,` De Luca and Ordesky said.

New Line's Senior Executive Vice President Ben Zinkin and Senior Vice
President of Business Affairs Suzanne Rosencrans negotiated the agreements,
along with Ordesky. ICM's Ken Kamins represented Jackson and Walsh.
Jackson was also represented by attorneys Peter Nelson and George Davis
of Nelson, Guggenheim, Felker & Levine. Al Bendich represented Zaentz.

Last year, `Lord of the Rings` was named the `#1 Book of the Century` in a
survey of more than 25,000 avid readers in the United Kingdom. Published in
1954-55, Tolkien's timeless masterpiece `The Lord of the Rings` --
comprised of `The Fellowship of the Ring,` `Two Towers,` and `The Return
of the King` -- stands as one of the greatest works of imaginative fiction ever
written.

Set in a mythic pre-history, `The Lord of the Rings` tells the saga of a
desperate battle against encroaching evil -- a perilous quest to save humanity
which falls upon the shoulders of a young hobbit, Frodo Baggins, who has
inherited a seemingly innocent magic ring from his elderly cousin Bilbo.

However Frodo soon learns that the ring's original maker, the Dark Lord
Sauron, is desperately seeking it -- for it is a ring of great evil which will
enable Sauron to enslave the people of this land known as Middle Earth. A
hurriedly assembled fellowship of wizard, elf, dwarf and men accompany
Frodo and his friends on a harrowing mission across Middle Earth in an
attempt to destroy the ring by casting it into the volcanic fires in the Crack of
Doom. Against them rages the monstrous power of Sauron, whose sinister
emissaries ruthlessly pursue Frodo and his companions, while the omnipotent
power of the ring attempts to corrupt the fellowship from within.

An internationally respected filmmaker, Peter Jackson received an Academy
Award(R) nomination for his screenplay of `Heavenly Creatures,` a film he
also directed and produced. `Heavenly Creatures` was awarded a Silver Lion
at the Venice Film Festival in 1994.

Among his other films, he previously directed and co-wrote `Dead Alive,`
which won 16 international science fiction awards, including the Saturn. Most
recently, he was responsible for `The Frighteners,` which was executive
produced by Robert Zemeckis.

Walsh co-wrote the Academy Award-nominated `Heavenly Creatures` and
has also collaborated with Jackson on `Meet the Feebles` and `Dead Alive.`

A legendary producer, Zaentz secured the rights to `The Hobbit` and `The
Lord of the Rings` directly from author J.R.R. Tolkien. Among his many
credits, he has produced such Academy Award-winning films as `The English
Patient,` `Amadeus,` `One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,` and he is a
recipient of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' prestigious
Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award. Zaentz is also co-owner of Fantasy
Records, the first recording company to introduce audiences to Dave
Brubeck, Lenny Bruce and Creedence Clearwater Revival. Fantasy has
grown into one of the largest jazz labels in the world.

Along with his work on `The Hobbit` and `The Lord of the Rings,` Tolkien is
the famed writer of such fantasy genre novels as `The Adventures of Tom
Bombadil,` and `The Silmarillon.` A distinguished professor of English,
Tolkien began writing `Lord of the Rings` in 1936, and the three volumes
took more than 14 years to complete.

Founded in 1967, New Line Cinema is the entertainment industry's leading
independent producer and distributor of theatrical motion pictures. New Line
licenses its films to ancillary markets including cable and broadcast television
as well as to international venues. The company, which is a subsidiary of Time
Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX), operates several divisions including in-house
theatrical distribution, marketing, home video, television, acquisitions,
production, licensing and merchandising units.

SOURCE New Line Cinema


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