Posted by Aston Avery

Renowned film journalist celebrates 20th Anniversary of Lord of the Rings

This time twenty years ago today, the first film in one of the biggest and most anticipated movie series of all time was released. The first Lord of the Rings film – the Fellowship of the Ring – had its premiere in the UK, and was immediately hailed as a masterpiece. Directed by New Zealander Sir Peter Jackson and featuring a star studded cast that included Elijah Wood, Sir Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Sean Bean, Orlando Bloom and Andy Serkis, it became one the highest grossing film series of all time, taking nearly $3 billion in worldwide ticket receipts. The three films – the Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King – were critically acclaimed, with praise for innovative special effects, acting, set design and musical score. So much so that the series won 17 Oscars in total.

The entire project took around eight years to complete and cost $280 million dollars, which involved shooting all three films simultaneously in New Zealand. In the end it took around 15 months to shoot everything with the help of 2,500 crew members. One of the many highlights of the Lord of the Rings trilogy were the costumes. Professional swordsmiths were hired to create weapons for the films, roughly 10,000 arrows were made for The Fellowship of the Ring alone, and 12.5 million rings of chainmail were forged for the countless suits of armor seen throughout the trilogy. Plus 1,800 pairs of prosthetic Hobbit feet were also made, and that was just for the four main Hobbit actors alone.

The impact on the economy of New Zealand was also profound. Tourism bosses estimate that visitor numbers to New Zealand have increased by an estimated 40% since The Lord of the Rings, and it is thought the film series generates around 30 million dollars a year for the country’s tourism industry.

Aston spoke to film critic Jason Solomons.

Photo by Jeremy Yap on Unsplash

Ads help us keep this site online