Things you didn’t know about Lord of the Rings

Three posters for the Lord of the Rings trilogy side by side featuring profiles of the cast.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy is a series that could be considered one of the most ambitious film projects made. The production of these three films was huge with an overall budget of $280 million. All three films were shot simultaneously in New Zealand and the project took eight years to complete. The extended editions of the three films total 682 minutes (6hrs 22m), the longest being Return of the Kings with is over three hours.

A moving image of Peter Jackson in in a small rainy village at night-time, walking across screen taking a bite from a carrot =.

Peter Jackson in The Desolation of Smaug. Image via

If you’re a big Lord of the Rings fan then you may have noticed director Peter Jackson’s cameos in the films. In The Fellowship of the Ring Jackson appears in Bree, he was originally supposed to be smoking a pipe but it made him feel sick so he holds a carrot. In The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug Jackson again appears in Bree talking across screen taking a bite from a carrot, a nice reference to his cameo over a decade earlier.

In The Two Towers Jackson defends Helms Deep as a Rohan soldier. During the battle he can be seen throwing a spear at an Uruk-hai. Jackson actually has two cameos in the extended edition of The Return of the King Jackson plays one of the Corsairs of Umbar who is killed when Legolas fires a warning shot. Jackson also appears as Sam’s hands when he faces Shelob. Sean Astin was temporarily absent and Jackson stepped in so that filming wouldn’t slow down.

Jacksons son and daughter, Billy and Katie Jackson, also make appearances in the trilogy several times. Firstly as young hobbits in The Fellowship of the Ring, Billy was actually the only ‘hobbit’ not to wear a wig as he had ‘perfect hobbit hair’. The children also appear as refugee children in the caves of Helms Deep in The Two Towers, and children at Minas Tirith in The Return of the King. 

Fanghorn forest, the forest beneath the Misty Mountains where Merry and Pippin meet Treebeard and Aragorn Gimli and Legolas encounter a white wizard. In The Two Towers, Fangorn is entirely artificial, made up of miniature, CGI and a studio set. It was decided that Fangorn would not be shot on location as director Peter Jackson could not find anything suitable in New Zealand.

As part of creating the studio set, Dan Hennah (art director) and Brian Massey (greens department) would visit local botanical gardens and ask to collect their leaves, “We’d fill up all these great big woolsacks full of leaves and take them and cart them away and stash them very carefully”. Driftwood collected from beaches nearby was used as roots for the trees. Treebeard was a 14 foot tall puppet, operated by five people.

Many of the Lord of the Rings sets were actually miniatures. The Numenorian ruins in The Fellowship of the Ring, Amon Henwhich is seen at the end of the Fellowship are recycled polystyrene structures from Weathertop. Several of these ‘miniature’ sets were, although small in terms of scale, so large they became known as ‘bigatures. This name was inspired bur Barad-Dur miniature, which was 15ft tall. The bigature of Orthanc actually filled a whole car park.


Quentin Tarantino sues for $2million over script leak.

An image of Quentin Tarantino holding an award.
An image of Quentin Tarantino holding an award.

Quentin Tarantino.
Source: Wikipedia

Oscar winning director and screenwriter, Quentin Tarantino is seeking at least $2million in damages down to the leak of his script for his movie The Hateful Eight.

Tarantino is suing the gossip website Gawker for contributory copyright infringement after it posted a link to the leaked screenplay.

Last Monday (20th January), the first draft of Tarantino’s ensemble Western was published to the world after the director trusted it into the hands of only six people.

The lawsuit, filed by Tarantino’s lawyers today, seeks damaged of $1million (£603,000) against Gawker and $1million against the anonymous file-sharing website where the leaked script was hosted.

The director, who last year won an Oscar for Best Screenplay for Django Unchained, has since decided to shelve the product which he had previously planned to film in the winter of 2015.

Instead, he said that he will probably publish the script as a book instead, a practice that in the past has seen him rack up some impressive royalties and advances.

With the release of Django Unchained in 2012 and Inglorious Basterds in 2009, the director is certainly not struggling for funds as they were both box-office smashes, accumulating over $740million worldwide.

As well as an impressive box office, the two films achieved 12 nominations and 3 wins at The Academy Awards.

As for what Quentin Tarantino has planned next, he said “I’ve got 10 more where that came from.”

IMDb voters move Disaster Movie off the bottom of the pile.

Directors Friedberg and Seltzer image via

Directors Friedberg and Seltzer
image via

On the 31st of August 2008, Disaster Movie was named by IMDb as being the worst movie of all time. With an average rating of just 1.9 out of 10 after over 63,000 votes, Disaster Movie out flops titles such as Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2, Zombie Nightmare and even Birdemic: Shock and Terror, a film in which a two survivors fight off a platoon of eagles and vultures who had partnered up in murdering most of the residents of a small town. Yes, really.

The parody, starring Matt Lanter, Vanessa Minnillo, Carmen Electra and even an acting début from the multi-talented Kim Kardashian, received six nominations at the 29th annual Golden Raspberry Awards for Worst Picture, nominations for both Electra and Kardashian in the Worst Supporting Actress category, Worst Director, Worst Screenplay, and Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-Off or Sequel.

The only positive review of the film came from Australian newspaper critic Jim Schembri, who described the film as being “dumb but also undeniably funny in more spots than a right-thinking mature person feels comfortable admitting” giving it a rating of 3 ½ stars out of 5.
Schembri’s was himself subjected to criticism from peers and Rotten Tomato website visitors for the review.

Directors Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer are used to negative reviews. Disaster Movie and Meet the Spartans were voted the two worst films of 2008 by the Times. Empire released their own list of “the Worst Movies of All Time”, in which all but one of Friedberg and Seltzer’s films made it into the countdown.

Although it did manage to recoup nearly $40million in box-office and DVD sales, Disaster Movie was considered by many as being the worst movie ever made, but not anymore.

With a rating of only 1.3 after over 40,000 votes, Indian action crime thriller movie Gunday has “overtaken” Disaster Movie on IMDb’s list of worst rated films.

Directed by Ali Abbas Zafar, Gunday received mixed reviews with many critics admitting the movie had a credible storyline, but was structurally poor. Whilst reviewing the film, Bollywood critic Saibal Chaterjee said that “It really is difficult to keep a two-and-a-half-hour film from losing its wheels when its engine room is bereft of the propellant of genuine inspiration. Gunday is like the dusty minefields it is set in. Its loud explosions deliver loads of coal, but no trace of any diamonds.”

Although far from being a classic, Gunday is seen by many as a commendable effort, and it’s position on IMDb’s list seems quite frankly, a little harsh.

However, for the directors who have been described as being the “”evildoers, charlatans, symbols of western civilization’s decline” and “a plague on our cinematic landscape, a national shame, a danger to our culture, a typhoon-sized natural disaster disguised as a filmmaking team, a Hollywood monster wreaking havoc on the minds of America’s youth and setting civilization back thousands of years”, Friedberg and Seltzer, for now, are no longer the directors of the worst movie of all time.

This week in history: 20th – 26th January

A whole six years ago on January 22nd 2008 Heath Ledger died from an accidental overdose of prescription pills. When he passed away, the 28 year-old actor was in the prime of his career. He was in the middle of filming The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus. After some clever re-writing, Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell were cast to complete Ledger’s role as a man who changed his appearance as he travelled between imaginary worlds. Depp, Law and Farrell all gave their earnings from the film to Ledger’s daughter Matilda.

The last film that Heath Ledger completed was Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight in which Ledger played Batman’s nemesis The Joker. His incredibly performance won him over thirty posthumous awards including an Oscar for best supporting actor.

On this day in 1961, Disney’s 101 Dalmatians was released. The film was a bit of a risk for the studio, their previous animated feature, Sleeping Beauty, failed to make even half of the $6 million production costs.

In light of this loss the animation team was reduced fivefold and xerography, a new, cheaper form of animation was introduced. 101 Dalmatians was the first feature film to use this technique. Xerography was a new photocopying technology which resulted in hard black outlines on the animations, a contrast to Disney’s previous soft feel. However, Disney needn’t have worried; 101 Dalmatians became the highest grossing film of 1961.

The original novel was written by Dodie Smith. Bill Peet, the writer, kept in close contact with her while screenwriting and he made a fair few changes. The Dalmatian protagonists were originally Pongo and Missus Pongo, Perdita was a stray, taken in to help wet nurse the puppies. The owners, Mr and Mrs Dearly, were originally named Roger and Anita Radcliffe. Although in the 1996 Disney live action version they are again named Roger and Anita. The changes were welcomed by Smith who felt that the Disney studios were improving on her story.

29 years on in 1990, Ava Gardner died aged 67. The pin-up actress’ biggest films included The Killers (1946) a crime drama where Gardner played Kitty Collins and On the Beach (1959) a Sci-Fi drama also starring Gregory Peck. Gardner once met J.R.R Tolkien at Oxford University in 1964, but neither knew that the other was famous.

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Image via

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5 facts about the Screen Actors Guild Awards Statuette

An image of the Screen Actors Guild award trophy standing behind the words' Screen Actors Guild Awards'.

Screen Actors Guild Award 

The Screen Actors Guild Award statuette, an oxidised bronze statue of a man holding in front of him the make of the dramatic arts, comedy and tragedy.

The Actor®. Credit Mark Hill

Official Name – The Actor®

Height – 16 inches

Weight – 12 pounds

Number Presented – 823

Designer – Jim Heimann and Jim Barnett

Manufacturer – American Fine Arts Foundry in Burbank


  • Set on a block of black granite, The Actor® is the heaviest awards of the awards season. Not yet dressed, he holds the mask of comedy and tragedy contemplating which persona he will take when he steps in front of the camera.
  • A team of 10 people are responsible for the handcrafting of each of the awards each year, a process that takes between 3 and 4 weeks to produce.
  • Each awards is created through a process called ‘lost-wax’ which requires a highly detailed, ceramic mould to be filled with wax to create another mould in which the molten bronze is poured into. Due to the delicate process, The Actor® starts out life with no arms, they are attached at a later point to ensure that they do not break off.
  • The award itself is created from bronze, but to achieve the distinctive green appearance, oxidation, which is a natural process, is sped up with the help of a blowtorch.
  • To date, the Screen Actors Guild foundation has given out a total of 832 Actor statuettes. Each nearly identical and yet each an individual work of art.