Before the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy ended up in the hands of Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema, the project was owned by Miramax. A very complicated episode for the development of the project, and which caused a little revenge against Harvey Weinstein.
The Lord of the Rings : from Miramax to Peter Jackson
Released between 2001 and 2003, the films The Lord of the Rings are arguably Peter Jackson’s greatest achievement. It must be said that the filmmaker has done a remarkable job and has paid tribute to the work of JRR Tolkien. The trilogy The Lord of the Rings indeed cumulates 17 Oscars and nearly $ 3 billion in box office revenue. Yet, as comedian Elijah Wood recently revealed on the podcast Armchair Expert, the project was initially in the hands of the company Miramax. Owned at the time by Harvey Weinstein, it was this company that notably produced and distributed Quentin Tarantino’s first films.
In the mid-1990s, Miramax has bought the exploitation rights to Tolkien’s books and invested a few million dollars to start an adaptation project. At the time, Peter Jackson and his wife Fran Walsh were already attached to the project. But the couple feel that Miramax is not going to give them the means necessary to bring their creative vision to life. The duo then offered Harvey Weinstein, the co-founder of Miramax, to turn to other studios, to develop a project closer to their vision. Miramax accepts but sets two conditions: that the deal be concluded during the weekend, and that it relates to the production of three films!
When an Orc looked like Harvey Weinstein
Thus, Peter Jackson launched a real flash promotional campaign to find investors and studios to produce not a single adaptation of the Lord of the Rings, but a whole trilogy. What Miramax refused to do. As Elijah Wood recounts, most investors wanted to produce a first film first, and see the revenue it would generate: “The main idea was: to produce a first film, and then invest in sequels”.
Peter Jackson then met Bob Shaye from New Line Cinema. A contract of three films was then miraculously concluded. ” The risk was immense. Miramax thought there was no way we could get away with it ” says Elijah Wood.
While this story is crazy enough, the comedian revealed another anecdote about The Lord of the Rings. Elijah Wood has indeed brought back a memory of his colleague Sean Astin:
One of the first memories he brought up, on Dominic Monaghan and Bill Boyd’s podcast “The Friendship Onion”, was the orc masks. And one of those masks – I remember it very well – was made to look like Harvey Weinstein, like an “f *** you”.
Elijah Wood concluded by saying: ” I think it’s okay to talk about it now, the guy is fucking incarcerated. So much the better ! “. Sacred history in any case that this change in extremis of production. Without New Line Cinema, The Lord of the Rings would have been totally different, and Miramax would only have started production of a single film. A project in which Peter Jackson would surely not have participated.