I find fun to think of “what-if” situations — the alternate history that could have happened if only something played out just slightly different. Similar to my alternate 80s/90s take on a Batman and Superman movie, there could have been another movie produced in the 80s if only the right creative minds had come together.
With the popularity of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings books, the Tolkien estate wanted to produce Lord of the Rings. There was hope that the animated feature of the 70s would have been their overwhelming achievement. Yet, the two projects just didn’t capture the hearts of minds of fans. So, the Producers decided the story had to be told as a life action movie. Tolkien family wanted something in the likes of Star Wars.
Star Wars was the biggest movie of all time in the 1980s. The three movies of the Star Wars franchise wasn’t just movies it was a licensee jugganaut. From books to toys, the intellectual property would eventually make billions. So, why not Lord of the Rings. After, George Lucas finished with Return of the Jedi and had no future plans of any other Star Wars films, he was the perfect choice for a massive Lord of the Rings project. The project is pitched to Lucasfilm. And in 1984, George Lucas confirms his next film project is Lord of the Rings.
Being inspired by the books when he was in college, George is excited to tackle the story. One feature that George is most excited about is the story from the perspective of the hobbits — the halflings of Middle Earth. During the writing of Star Wars, George had considered filming it entirely with midgets — or small people. George was fascinated by the courageous “little people” living with the disability. He had worked with them to create iconic characters like Jawas and Ewoks. So, he knew he had to find the right ones to play Merry, Pippin, Samwise, Frodo and Bilbo Baggins.
George quickly sums it up that if there was 3 books in the Lord of the Rings cycle, then it could only be done with 3 movies – focusing on 1 book per film. With all the pre-production concluded, filming starts in 1985. The first movie is released in 1986 to huge reviews and massive box office returns. The second film arrives 3 years later — in 1989 and the last film — in 1992. Toy stores were flooded with Lord of the Rings action figures, board games and puzzles. Kids would hit the first day of school with Frodo and the all seeing Eye of Sauron t-shirts. Lucasfilm stuns the world with 3 massive trilogies — Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Lord of the rings.
This would have blown our geek and nerdy minds…. And possibly put a new level to those that enjoyed D&D and modern fantasy!
[note: this is not real but a possible history in film. Images are from Willow.]