There’s big news for Lord of the Rings fans! But not necessarily good news. In fact, it may well be bad news, actually, depending on how long you’ve been waiting to upgrade your LotR and Hobbit Blu-rays. The six-film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved fantasy series is coming to 4K Ultra HD again... and that’s about it. All those wonderful extras on your Blu-rays, however, will be left behind.
It’s wild to describe a box set containing 31 separate discs as “bare bones,” but that’s exactly what this “Middle-Earth Ultimate Collector’s Edition” set is. It has the movies, and that’s virtually it. Now, to be fair, you’re getting all the movies, both in 4K UHD and remastered on the standard Blu-ray format, including both the theatrical and the extended editions. It’s a little hard to visualize, so here’s a breakdown of what the set contains:
So the three Hobbit movies—An Unexpected Journey, The Desolation of Smaug, and The Battle of the Five Armies—have four discs each: the theatrical cut on Blu-ray, the Extended Edition on Blu-ray, the theatrical cut in 4K, and then the Extended in 4K. But the three Lord of the Rings movies—Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and Return of the King—have six discs each: theatrical on Blu-ray, theatrical in 4K, and then the Extended Editions take up two discs in both formats. That’s a grand total of 30 discs, which leaves one remaining—the extras.
This single disc does not contain the contents found in the 12 discs of amazing extras—two per movie—found in the original Extended Edition Blu-ray releases. Dubbed the ‘Appendices’, these contained hours and hours of behind-the-scenes footage, documentaries, interviews, art, and more, and are some of the greatest special features ever made. Even The Hobbit got the same treatment, giving frank and clear insight into how the production of that trilogy went. Instead, here are all the extras included in the Middle-Earth Ultimate Collector’s Edition:
• The original Cannes Film Festival presentation reel
• Footage from the recent Alamo Drafthouse cast reunions
• A 30-40 minute “special feature” on each of the three Lord of the Rings movies
...and we’re done! That’s the list! Oh, and by the way? The three commentary tracks per movie found on the original Blu-rays? Those are missing, too. What the Middle-Earth Ultimate Collector’s Edition does have is a big box with some nice art, separate arts cards, and “a 64-page booklet featuring costumes, photography, and production notes from the film.” You can see all of the set’s wonders in the 37-second video above.
We’ve reached out to Warner Bros. Home Entertainment about why this set has left all those marvelous extras behind, and will update this when/if we receive a response. For now, though, the Middle-Earth Ultimate Collector’s Edition will run you $249.99, and is due out October 26.
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