Published at: Jan. 11, 2001, 11:50 p.m. CST by headgeek
I knew that the trailer was in town. I felt the vibrations of the FED EX trucks carrying it to theaters everywhere... I knew where the trailer was.... There would be two copies of this trailer at an unmarked theater in southern Austin, there was a sneak preview of 13 DAYS there tonight... I went with a mission... See 13 DAYS and be one charming as hell Clark Gable bastage to ensure my eyes seeing this trailer.
I arrive. Quint and the Fair Spanish Maiden are there... They have this look in their eye... this pleading desperate 'Can you do it Harry' look. I looked deep within my layered self... I traveled to Middle-Earth. I stood in Minas Tirith and before the doors of Moria while holding Anduril. (which wasn't there for that scene, but for another) When it comes to LORD OF THE RINGS, if it exists... I will find a way to see it.
I look around the lobby, hoping to catch the eye of someone... I see the STATE TROOPER, who doubles as a security guard... heh. heh. Cops are public servants.... I'm the public, and on this night I had need of an ally. I begin shooting the shit with my armed assistant with the walkie talkie of power. Soon... I have the manager down.
"Here he is sir," as ol Jimmy Doyle gestures at Sam The Lion, the manager of this here establishment. I notice he is wearing a Shriner's pin. Oh... Oh my, I can do this.
My grandfather taught me a whole series of secret handshakes that various secret societies use to identify rank and allegiance. There are 4 handshakes in the SHRINE organization that I know of... I gave him the second highest shake in the regional level and a smile creaked from one cheek to the other.
"Can a brother be of service my friend?" said Sam the Lion.
"It is a mere trifle my brother... There are two trailers here in this establishment that I wish to behold. They arrived with two prints of 13 DAYS. Now I know you can't show them with the print of the film tonight, but if... perchance, you could string them up back to back about 10 minutes after the audience has left... well, what would the harm be in that?" smile smile smile....
Sam the Lion's hand slapped my shoulder and said that it would be the least he could do.
We shook, (same handshake) and I left, very happy. I love ancient secret society bs and knowing enough to casually make life easier from time to time.
As I entered the theater, Quint looked at me... The Fair Spanish Maiden looked at me.... I smiled. Quint began pumping his arm and the Fair Spanish Maiden fluttered her eyelashes and arched her back. They knew.
We watched the film for a second time, the trailer before it was for 15 MINUTES which still looks interesting.... Then 13 DAYS played. And it played very differently to this audience than the last audience I saw it with. The first time I saw 13 DAYS was with a college audience, the duck and cover drills... the headphones... the speakerphone set ups all elicited laughter from the 17 to 20 crowd. This audience was, on average, about a decade older at least, and having lived through the government prepare to be annihilated drills... the bomb shelters and the belief that a flash of light would be the last thing they saw.... well this audience stayed with the movie and didn't pop out of it to laugh at it at all. There was a smattering of applause after the film came to a close.
I swear to Christ it took that audience an hour to leave.... some descended the stadium seats... only to climb them again to gather some forgotten item. You ever get a horrible sunburn then had your mom or loved one peel the skin from your back before applying the aloe? It was like that. Because as soon as they left.... IT would begin.
Various folks that I know looked at the four of us.... sitting center of the theater, not moving. They'd lock eyes with me and there was this... thing that passed between us... my eyes would go from theirs to the screen with a smile. They had a gasp. They understood and left (or so I thought.)
The theater was seemingly empty except for the four of us... We sat there... the pulses accelerating. We began leaning forward into the screen.... Suddenly the lights began to dim, and the trailer began.
It begins with the music from the Internet Trailer that plays as the screen widens and you see the evil army with Mt Doom in the background, but instead of seeing that.... you see...
A simple plain gold ring with the Elvish (or whatever dark language it may be) phrasing as the ring spins away from us as lightning thunders from the crimson gathering of clouds in the distance.
Then MR VOICE says the classic, 'One Ring To Rule Them All, One Ring To Find Them...' well you get the idea. This is MR VOICE. Why they didn't get Ian McKellen to say this in his Gandalf Voice I'll never know. I mean... Mr Voice sounds about as MiddleEarth as Casey Kasem sounds Victorian. As he reaches the end of the phrase, "and in the darkness bind them," you see an Unidentified Hobbit Hand reaching up and clutching the ring out of the air.
So far everything you have seen to this point is the creation of New Line Marketing, and the fiery letters against the golden ring twirling with the strange echo lighting playing against the clouds... well it's ok. And ix-nay on Mr Voice-ay on the next trailer please.
We do a hardline cut to the ORC armies traveling across Mordor. Some will say this is the 'final shot' that will be used in the film. Well, remember the Internet trailer... this is... in execution basically the same thing, but for 35mm resolution. When NEW LINE marketing was cutting this trailer they told Peter they were going to use that shot again, and Peter told them he'd do it better for this trailer. Now what you see is a two shot.... it is framed better, bringing you closer to orcs in the foreground, and the Mt Doom in the distance finally looks dead on right... as opposed to the low res really nice slapped together matte shot you saw online. But this is still not the shot you will see in RETURN OF THE KING.... but it gives you an idea of what kind of thing you'll be seeing in these films.
Next there is an entire flurry of shots... The company traveling over Caradhras as we soar above (this shot is better than the entirity of VERTICAL LIMIT), We see Saruman doing something cool (this shot was shown if memory serves at San Diego Con during the New Line Presentation there), there is Aragorn tossing his torch at Weathertop, I believe I saw a scene inside the mines of Moria (but I may be wrong), there is a shot of Gandalf that I am convinced is when he first sees the Balrog... I believe, at least that's the feeling I get... he's still Gandalf the Grey.... I also believe there is a shot at Edoras here. There is a shot of Arwen in bed I believe and there are shots of the Nazgul.
Then suddenly we are faced with Galadriel speaking..... This startled me, as I was used to the rhythm of the trailer flashing stuff at me, and then it slows down. She has this ethereal look to her as she says something to the degree that 'even the smallest of us can make a difference' as we cut to Elijah looking back at her startled.
The light in his eye sparks as we segue into the logo art saying LORD OF THE RINGS with the accompanying dates for the next three years. At this point you feel that it is a bit abbreviated, then...
We have a view from the Misty Mountains looking out in the distance as the Fellowship all come from out of frame and past us. I believe the order was Gandalf with that wonderful staff of his, followed by Legolas and the shorter Gimli, then the even shorter Frodo, Pippen, Merry and Sam leading Bill the Pony, then rising up came Boromir (this is when I heard applause from the side of the theater... aha! Someone figured it out! Good. and then finally Aragorn.
The next screen was the all black, with the word ONE bleeding into the names of the cast.... then
Came a tag line: "You will find Adventure..." "...or Adventure will filnd you." Ugh. Don't like that tag line.
Then the trailer played again. Then the lights came up and I left.
There were three people that snuck back into the theater on the sneaky suspicion that I was up to something sneaky. They stood in the wings watching and two of them... this was their first look at anything from Lord of the Rings.
Outside of the theater I talked with the group about the trailer. Everybody seemed really enthused about it. Line Lady and Bloody Teacher thought the movie was going to be animated and were ecstatic to see it was going to be live-action. Line Lady said, "It has Sean Bean so I'm soooooo there." Both of them are not geeks or fan types. They are a pair of the most avid filmgoers I've ever met though. Bloody Teacher is an extremely picky lady though, and she really liked the trailers and is excited to see the films... but thinks it is going to be torture waiting between the three. Line Lady was happy to see there were going to be 3 movies.
Then there was 'the other guy', the fella I don't know. He liked it, but prefers the online trailer, he wanted it to be longer and have more oomph to it.
Both Quint and the Fair Spanish Lady both love the trailer, and on their ride home did nothing but enthuse about the last shot of the fellowship upon the Misty Mountains.
Father Geek says, "It did what it was supposed to, gives you the idea of the grandeur... but we didn't get to see anybody but normal looking people, but then again it is a teaser and it did its job it teased."
What did I think?
Well, I liked it. It is a good trailer, and to fans that are dying to see something new, it is a new dose... but frankly that first section with the fiery red clouds and the ring making all that noise with the letters burning into it..... Well it felt like wasted space, and a bit redundant from what we've seen before.
The structure for the trailer makes it feel big, which of course it is, but like the trailers for DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS or LOST IN SPACE this is a formula trailer.
Big Logo stuff followed by everything and the kitchen sink, followed by the title and cast, followed by the big memorable shot.
Now this trailer is cool and for the un-initiated... those that 'thought these films were going to be animated' or that didn't know there were going to be three films.... Well, this trailer taps them on the head and tells them there is something that IS up their alley.
What we really need though are trailers that sell the mythology of THE LORD OF THE RINGS, and believe it or not... that is more than "ONE RING TO RULE THEM ALL" People need to be introduced to Hobbits and Dwarves and Elves and Wizards and Men and Orcs and Goblins and Uruk Hai..... I'd love a trailer that just began with Gandalf coming into Hobbiton on his cart.... Bilbo and him at tea.... Gandalf creating an amazing firework display.... Gandalf and Elijah and the ring.... THEN the fellowship .... then orc army and Goblins and the darker stuff....
Starting with lightning and red clouds and swirling ring and Mr Voice? That sort of feels like you are selling me something, not telling me something... and first and foremost these are stories to be told, and we as audience members should be asked to listen to a story that is going to be told to us for the next 3 years.
I'm very interested in seeing this trailer with a full on audience.... hearing shouts and screams and such... Did the hairs feel raised on the back of my neck... yeah, but the trailer didn't do the "OH DEAR CHRIST ALMIGHTY" feeling that the Internet Teaser had when it showed.
I know these films are going to be the most amazing set of films we'll see in the next 3 years, I can feel it, but for the rest of the world to see it, it is up to the Marketing team at New Line. I have no doubt that the next level of the The Official Lord Of The Rings Site will unfurl tons of stuff for us geeks waiting to see stuff... but every stage of the marketing of this film should feel EPIC. I mean, Christ... did you see the pics of SPIDER-MAN that came out today? That's how to introduce your character! Something that instantly sets the heart to beating at triple time. I hope that now that principal photography is done, that New Line Marketing works hand in hand with Peter on this. AWE US! They have the material... believe me, I've seen it.
I just spent about 3 hours going through the New V.2. of the LORD OF THE RINGS site that Gordon Paddison at New Line has been overseeing. BRAVO! Wonderful, now update it weekly or more often. If you can update it daily that would be the cat's meow! I'd be there with bells on for a part of every one of my days....
I've continued to reflect upon this latest Teaser Trailer that many of you will be seeing tomorrow. And I just can't get around the idea that the Internet Teaser Trailer was more spectacular. How about 25 seconds of the GAG REEL assembled for the Wrap Party was more spectacular...
Had this trailer ended with the shot of Andy Serkis in mid-Gollum state entering the hole in the ground with the screen fading to black and the voice over saying, "MYyyyyyy Preciousssssssssss" you would have heard a scream of jubilation the likes of which I haven't heard in a theater since the opening 20th Century Fox logo upon the first screening of STAR WARS EPISODE ONE.... Now I have heard that there will be a new trailer in a few months (what I've heard is 3 to 5 months). If this is the case, and if I were running New Line... I'd let the 'visionary director' that you trusted with nearly a quarter of a billion dollars.... who you believe is going to deliver to you the biggest film franchise this side of STAR WARS and I'd let him cut the trailer and plan it... because I guarantee you this... Any given 40 consecutive seconds of his friggin Gag Reel was 10 times the impact of this trailer.
I'm not saying this trailer is crap.... It isn't. It is just good. Not very good. Not spectacular. Not the best thing since sliced bread. And most definitely it is not CLASSIC!
This trailer is less spectacular than TWO PUBLICITY SHOTS from SPIDER-MAN and that hasn't shot a frame of footage and hasn't spent a quarter of a billion dollars! I really don't mean to rain on anyone's parade, but I love this project. Shaye, Ordesky, Deluca... guys, time to step up the game.