“The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” celebrates its 20th anniversary this season, and the milestone has brought a bevy of oral histories and look-backs with key cast members and filmmakers. What’s clear is that a trilogy of such scale — filming in New Zealand on a combined production budget of $281 million across the three films — couldn’t be made the same way in 2021, when nothing cinematic is sacred on the internet.
“There was a great sense of a lack of oversight. Peter and the larger team were allowed to make the movies the way that they wanted to make them without much outside perspective,” said Wood.
Jackson pitched the film to Miramax as early as 1995, but when the studio and chief Harvey Weinstein demanded two-hour cuts and exhaustive story changes, Jackson found an audience at New Line, which afforded more creative freedom.
“That doesn’t mean the studio wasn’t afraid or invested. They knew the risk of making these films back to back,” Wood continued. “I don’t know if he would be able to make them in the same way now.”
He added that the ubiquity of fan rumors and leaks and fascination would probably prevent the film from being made as it was today, in a relatively tight “bubble.”
“Look, the internet’s different too. There was less scrutiny on the films. There was less known about them. We were able to make the movies in a bubble. We had quaint problems, like there would be some photographers up on a hill, but it was pretty minor. [Laughs.] I don’t know if that would be possible now. Now the world is online and there’s a great deal of access afforded to pretty much anybody about anything,” Wood said.
In any case, the legacy of the “Lord of the Rings” has lived well beyond the original films. Jackson eventually released his own follow-up trilogy of “Hobbit” films, Amazon has a massive TV series expected to release late next year, and “Fellowship of the Ring” was recently added to the National Film Registry.