It's hard to believe it's been 19 years since the original Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring came to theatres in 2001. Five more films later, with the LOTR and Hobbit trilogies completed and now remastered to 4K Ultra HD, the films' director Peter Jackson opened up about the process in a video released by Warner Bros. The LOTR films released in subsequent years shot back-to-back with The Two Towers (2002) and The Return of the King (2003). Nine years later, Jackson adapted J. R. R. Tolkien's other major Middle Earth work in the much shorter prequel, The Hobbit splitting the adaptation into its own trilogy starting with An Unexpected Journey (2012), followed by The Desolation of Smaug (2013), and The Battle of the Five Armies (2014). The films grossed a combined $5.8 billion globally at the box office.
"It was interesting going back and revisiting these films because I realized how inconsistent they were, and that's really due to the way in which 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy was shot first, about 20 years ago," Jackson said. "'The Lord of the Rings' was shot on 35mm. The color timing was done in an old-fashioned photomechanical way for the first 'Lord of the Rings' movie; then we switched to digital color timing for the 35mm for the next two. Being able to tweak individual colors we just couldn't do 20 years ago, so it's fun having all the toys now. We didn't have all this stuff to play with in the old days."
For The Hobbit trilogy, Jackson shot them on digital cameras while adapting different technology during the color timing process, making it distinguishingly look different from Lord of the Rings. By remastering the films, Jackson said he hopes to provide greater visual continuity. "It's always a meddle to make something feel consistent that was shot over a long period of time," Jackson said. "Even though they are six movies, it didn't have a consistency with the look of the film just due to the time they were made…It's great having all the films looking like they were shot at the same time."
The Lord of the Rings trilogy starred Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins, while Martin Freeman starred a younger version of his uncle, Bilbo Baggins, for The Hobbit trilogy. The six films are now available on 4K Ultra HD and Digital via Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.