The Lord of the Rings is one of the most influential film series ever made based on J. R. R. Tolkien’s classic. However, Peter Jackson‘s film adaptation was in a lot of trouble earlier in development. His manager, Ken Kamins, recently explained how Harvey and Bob Weinstein nearly pulled him off the project and killed off three characters. The world would have a very different Lord of the Rings if that was the case.
‘The Lord of the Rings’ film series started at Miramax
Lord of the Rings‘ development originally started at Miramax. At the time, the Weinsteins ran the studio and made the big decisions. The Independent interviewed Kamins and spoke about the early development of the popular film series. Jackson was happy to sign a first-look deal with Miramax. However, it ended up working for the best when they moved the project elsewhere.
“Harvey was excited,” Kamins said. “We found that very encouraging and thought we’d have room to tell the stories, only we weren’t paying attention to the political dynamic between Miramax and Disney. Disney had set a budget cap on Miramax and Lord of the Rings was well in excess of what they could greenlight on their own.”
Kamins continued: “When Disney realized the budget and that we were going to shoot the films back-to-back, and the director was not exactly an A-list name, they made it very clear they were not on board. So then begun the very tortured process of Harvey not wanting to admit to the Disney pushback and then at the same time saying to Peter, ‘This is what you have to do.'”
Harvey and Bob Weinstein nearly fired Peter Jackson and killed off 3 characters
The Weinsteins had a lot of ideas for Lord of the Rings, including killing three Hobbits. They wanted to make the trilogy into a single two-and-a-half-hour movie. Jackson’s job was on the line if he didn’t obey what the Weinsteins wanted him to do.
“Bob Weinstein suggested at one point that we kill three of the Hobbits,” Kamins told Independent. “Disney didn’t want [the adaptation] and the relationship between Peter and Miramax soured. Harvey would go from acting empathetically to turning on a dime into Mr. Hyde and would threaten Peter.”
Kamins continued: “He’d threaten to get Quentin Tarantino to direct if Peter couldn’t do it in one film that was two-and-a-half hours – which was the exact opposite of what he initially told us he wanted.”
Lord of the Rings would ultimately end up moving to New Line, but the Weinsteins certainly didn’t make that an easy process either.
“Eventually, I go to Harvey and say, ‘You have to give us a window to shop it,’ Kamins said. “A traditional window [to try and sell a property to a different studio] is between six and 12 months – Harvey gave us three weeks.”
Kamins concluded: “He also wanted a $12m advance to cover what Miramax had spent and five percent of the total gross, and to be named as an executive producer. We had three weeks to sell Lord of the Rings to another studio or the rights were Harvey’s and he’d kick Peter off the project.”
‘The Lord of the Rings’ is one of the highest-grossing film series of all time
Lord of the Rings went on to make over $2.991 billion at the global box office, making it one of the highest-grossing movie series of all time. The series inspired many other mediums to take up the story, including video games. However, Lord of the Rings didn’t stop there. The Hobbit prequel trilogy followed Jackson’s original trilogy.
Amazon is releasing a Lord of the Rings series set in the Second Age of Middle-earth, which places it thousands of years before any other series installment thus far. The first 8-episode season will premiere on September 2, 2022.