7 Little-Known Lord of the Rings Facts

Posted Dec 16, by Alison Stanton

The Beatles wanted to star in a film version of the Lord of the Rings. They wanted Stanley Kubrick to direct

Kubrick, of course is one of the best movie directors that ever lived. Some of his best known movies are '2001: A Space Odyssey,' 'A Clockwork Orange,' and 'The Shining.' When the film rights to The Lord of the Rings were sold to United Artists, The Beatles tried to jump on the opportunity to make a film about it. The Lord of the Rings was a huge hit with the '60s liberation movement and it makes sense that The Beatles would take interest in a project like this.

However, Stanley Kubrick had to turn them down. For him, the stories were impossible to capture on film. Indeed, the only projects based on the property were some mediocre animated movies for a long time, until Peter Jackson made the early 2000 versions. Peter Jackson later said that Tolkien had been against the idea of The Beatles being involved with such a project. Indeed, Tolkien was very protective of his IP and reportedly set up a clause that prohibited Disney from being involved in creating a movie based on his works.

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In The Lord of the Rings books, Frodo doesn’t start his adventure until 17 years after getting the Ring.

You probably know that the movies were drastically different from the books in many ways. In the books, when Bilbo leaves Frodo with his home and the ring, Frodo is already 33 years old. Gandalf convinces Frodo to keep the ring and keep it secret before departing. 

For many years, Gandalf visits Bag End (where Frodo lives) several times. It’s only when 17 years have passed that Gandalf tells Frodo the truth of the ring- when Frodo is already 50 years old. Many other changes were made in the movies to condense the story to under three hours a film. 

Many characters like Fatty and Tom Bombadil were cut from the story entirely, while many other elements were shortened or removed. If you ever decide to read the books, you’ll be very surprised at just how in depth and extensive they are compared to the films. 

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Lord of the Rings Return of the King has the highest body count for any movie made!

The film tops the list with 836 bodies. The second place winner is Kingdom of Heaven with 610 bodies. Lord of the Rings Return of the King was released in 2003. Although it shares a name with the third volume of JRR Tolkien's epic novel, it actually incorporates a good chunk of the second volume, The Two Towers. Specifically, much of Sam and Frodo's journey was taken from the second volume. This was for two reasons: 1. because otherwise, Sam and Frodo wouldn't have had much to do in the movie, according to the director, and 2. because those events match up chronologically with the events that everyone else is going through, so it made sense to move them.

Here's more facts about Return of the King

  • It's one of the greatest critical and box-office successes of all time.
  • It was only the second film to ever gross $1 billion worldwide.
  • It won all 11 Academy Awards that it was nominated for.
  • Most notably, the film won the Academy Award for Best Picture, the first and only time a fantasy film has accomplished that.
  • It was 200 minutes long and shot in New Zealand, concurrently with the other films in the series.
  • It had a $94 million budget. It contains 1,488 visual effects shots and for the battle, they shot 450 motions for the massive digital horses. 

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Frodo wasn't the real hero of Lord of the Rings… Sam was!

JRR Tolkien considered Sam Gamgee the "chief hero" of The Lord of the Rings. If you’re unfamiliar with The Lord of the Rings, it is a world famous story of the struggle of a group of people to destroy a powerful ring before it results in the resurrection of the evil Sauron. The “main character” of the story is Frodo Baggins, a hobbit (a person with large hairy feet and in short stature). 

Frodo is tasked with taking the ring to Mordor, the place where it can be destroyed. Frodo is joined by his gardener, Samwise Gamgee. Throughout the course of the story, it might seem obvious that the main character and carrier of the ring is the story’s hero. J. R. R. Tolkien, the author, saw things differently though. Tolkien claimed that Sam was the true hero of the story. 

To be fair, the claim holds some merit. Sam did beat a man eating giant spider in single combat, storm a tower full of orcs on his own, resist the temptation of the ring, and carry Frodo up the side of a volcano essentially carrying the fate of the world on his back- all while suffering from starvation and dehydration. So it seems to stand to reason.

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The Lord of the Rings isn't a Trilogy!

J.R.R Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” is often erroneously called a trilogy when it is actually one book often published in three volumes! The Lord of the Rings is a single novel with six books and appendices. It is sometimes published in 3 volumes and people erroneously call it a trilogy. 

The reason for this was that paper was scarce and expensive at the time, so the publisher decided that it would be better to publish it in 3 volumes, so that they could recoup the cost of paper. 

The first volume, “The Fellowship of the Ring” was first published in Great Britain in July 1954 and in the U.S. in October 1954. The publication of the first volume began a problem that Tolkien continued facing with each volume published. 

The editors made many well-intentioned corrections that actually ruined what Tolkien had tried to write. Instead of Tolkien’s “elven” they would correct it to “elfin” or “dwarves” to “dwarfs.” Tolkien’s invented language was continuously “corrected,” something he constantly fought to get reverted back to his original writing. 

The second volume, “The Two Towers,” was published in Great Britain in November 1954 and in the U.S. in April 1955. The third volume was delayed, because Tolkien had promised in his first volume that he would add an index and full etymological information on the languages, especially on the elven tongues. 

In the end, there wasn’t an index in the third volume, only an apology from the publisher for the lack of index. Volume three was finally published in October 1955 in England and January 1956 in the U.S. 

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Despite The Lord of the Rings being the 7th highest grossing film franchise of all time, New Line Cinema claims it was a financial loss.

Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy earned $2,947,978,376 in theatres, nearly 3 billion. Its production costs were less than 10% of its earnings, at $281 million. How exactly does New Line Cinema claim it suffered a loss then?

The details are a little sketchy. South Canterbury Finance had invested 30 million dollars in the trilogy, but New Line produced accounts showing the movies made “horrendous losses.” 

According to Allan Hubbard, South Canterbury Finance’s CEO, “We found it surprising because it was one of the biggest box office successes of all time.” He’s right, because the films rank 5th, 18th, and 25th on the list of highest grossing movies of all time. 

Evidence seems to point to shifty business at New Line Cinema, because over a dozen actors from the films sued New Line due to not getting their agreed upon share of profits from merchandising. This practice is known as "Hollywood Accounting" and it's not uncommon amongst movie studios.

The Tolkien estate also sued New Line for not receiving the right amount of money from the film series’ profits. Even Peter Jackson’s production company stepped in. Wingnut Films, Jackson’s company, brought in an auditor to New Line, and eventually filed a suit against them as well, once again over an incorrect amount of profits. 

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In The Two Towers, Aragorn ’s scream of grief at seeing burning Orcs is actually Viggo Mortensen breaking two toes.

Remember that scene in Lord of the Rings where an angry Aragorn kicks a helmet across the landscape upon seeing a pile of burning Orcs? Well, actor Viggo Mortensen was instructed to kick the helmet as close as possible to the camera lens to give it the appearance of flying past it. With each take, the helmet closer and the shot got better. 

Peter Jackson, the director, was satisfied with the fourth take, but then he thought that one more take would make the scene perfect.  When Mortensen made that last kick he broke two of his toes, but rather than asking for medical attention and yelling “cut,” he used his pain to inspire his performance and released that legendary scream of pure agony. The director called it the “best take” and used it in the movie. 

Although we don’t recommend breaking your toes on helmets, we think that Mortensen’s quick thinking and dedication made him the perfect Aragorn. 

However his injury was not the only one in the movie, for more see the video below!:


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