Based on the negative fan feedback on the recently announced box set of the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit collection, we decided to reach out the director of the acclaimed Appendices from the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films’ home video releases, Michael Pellerin, for his thoughts.
Stay tuned to this week’s Leaguecast for the complete audio. Below are pieces of Pellerin’s response when asked about the box set and his relationship to it.
(Ed. note: Statement has been edited for clarity.)
I only know what they came to me with. They had planned to do this box set all along, I think a year after our last special extended edition of the HOBBIT films, THE BATTLE OF FIVE ARMIES. About two years ago, back in December of 2014, they approached Peter and me. We had a meeting about this box set. They had some art and concepts and things like that, some of which came to pass. That packaging was definitely in the works at that meeting. We talked about content and what we wanted to do. As we had always talked about, me and Peter had always put aside stories, materials, and an approach to storytelling for many years in hopes of an ultimate box set.
We knew back when we started this back in 2001… We knew there would be a high def medium and they would put out the materials in the hi def medium. Why not? And if they were going to do that, why not have saved really good stories and good materials for that instead of just bleeding the whole thing dry because as it was, there was 24 hours of documentaries on LORD OF THE RINGS and 24 or 30 hours of documentaries on THE HOBBIT. There was plenty of materials that came out, but with that said, we did choose certain materials, and certain stories, and certain approaches to storytelling … They are going to collect all the movies together, they are going to do an anniversary, and won’t we feel silly if we didn’t plan for that? They are going to come back and [ask]what else can you do? If you don’t have anything you just end up improvising and coming up with something that is probably a bit half assed. So, we actually started planning literally as far back as 2000-2001 somewhere around there about everything that we plan to do. Let’s think about whether or not it should end up in the box set.
We did that for years, we did that with the Hobbit, we did that with the Lord of the rings, especially with the Lord of the Rings, in the hopes that when they finally come to you and say let’s do a box set or let’s do an [anniversary], we’ll actually have a plan…. So when they came to us, Peter had proposed what he had always talked about… personally directing a documentary or a series of documentaries on the films, kind of going on the journey from his point of view on the making of these. Which, really, I’ve never heard of anyone doing… I’ve never heard of a filmmaker taking the audience on a journey, a series of shows, that takes you through the whole process chronologically, literally chronologically going through the process of making these films.
We kind of did a chronological thing on the Hobbit, we never did a chronological thing [for LOTR]and Costa Botes, the filmmaker who did the behind the scenes documentaries on Lord of the RIngs didn’t do a chronological approach. …You have behind the scenes footage, we have assets, we have artwork, we have interviews, but you’d really need to go back to the dailies, to the film. You’d have to actually pull all the old dailies in because the dailies, of course, have alternate versions of scenes, tons of extra footage that went through the lens that wasn’t necessarily [on the screen]. If you’ve seen the documentaries on THE LOVELY BONES, a lot can be done with the actual dailies to tell the story of the actual making of a film. Peter had that in mind. Also, in the dailies you have alternate versions of the film, different cuts, the bloopers. all the scenes that [did not]end up in the film. all of that could have been incorporated into a long form series of documentaries…
Obviously, doing something like that, something that’s a multiple hour documentary presentation is a real project. it’s a real production, it requires real production money. It’s going to be a lot of work, archival research, scanning, prepping, and digitizing. It’s like a real serious documentary series. Ultimately, Warner Brothers decided they were going to pass on it at this time. They weren’t interested in investing in all of the scanning and prep of the materials and all of the digitizing that would have had to have been done to make this documentary feasible…
That’s really kind of the last we heard about it. … We still have all of our plans, we still could pull this off, we’d just need the cooperation of the studio to provide the financial resources and the support of getting all the material scanned and digitized to create the set we were dreaming of all these years. … But with this box set, they just decided not to go there.”
Pellerin also made mention of Warner’s efforts on the HOBBIT films’ home video releases:
“We made the last edition of the BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES as good as we possibly could. we did everything we could with the resources we had… The studio, for the three Hobbit Extended editions, to their credit, they did support this. They did provide the resources and finances possible to do a production that was commensurate with the work that we had done with the Appendices on the Lord of the Rings. That’s to their credit. When the Lord o was made, DVD was on the upswing, it was the golden hey-day of that medium. To do a very big production like we had for home video release was challenging, but it was more acceptable and normal because of the financial returns of the medium. This day and age, with optical media, home media kind of on the decline, the studio supporting that at the level they did is very commendable.”