10 things you may not know about The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Geek Dave flys out of Mordor on the back of a giant eagle to bring you 10 things you may not know about The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

1. The opening scene of The Return of the King, which sees Smeagol discover the Ring and start on his journey towards ultimately becoming Gollum, was actually directed by Fran Walsh and set to appear as part of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. It would have featured immediately after Frodo first revealed Gollum's real name.

2. With all three movies shot back to back, many times elements overlapped (like the one above). When Ian McKellen arrived his very first day of shooting on the trilogy was Gandalf's first scene in The Fellowship of the Ring, as he arrives in Hobbiton. But his second day of shooting was Gandalf's very last in the trilogy, some drop in shots for the Gray Havens scene featured at the end of The Return of the King.

3. The rest of the cast filmed their portions of the Gray Havens scene over a year later, and they had to do it three times. After the first attempt was deemed successful, it was later discovered whilst viewing the dailies that Sean Astin was wearing the wrong shirt under his cloak! The negatives from the second attempt were inadvertently exposed to light during processing, causing a white haze over the entire day's footage. Third time was a charm, much to the delight of the cast who had spent most of the time crying in character.

4. When external filming for The Fellowship of the Ring was suspended after an unexpected flood hit Queenstown, the production schedule was turned upside down. Realising that the only available indoor facility was a squash court in a local hotel the scene from The Return of the King which features an obsessed Frodo siding with Gollum and sending Sam on his way was moved up the schedule by over a year. This would require Elijah Wood and Sam Astin to learn their lines overnight and with no chance for a read-through or preparation (Andy Serkis had not been cast at this point). Astin's scenes were completed, but almost as quickly as the flood had hit it receded and so external filming started up again. It would be 13 months later when Elijah Wood finally got to do his side of the scene, with Serkis, at that same squash court which had stayed closed to guests the entire time as the set had remained in place on the court.

5. The dead Oliphaunt carcass used in The Return of the King is reportedly the largest prop ever built for a motion picture. Even so, according to members of the prop department, director Peter Jackson still thought it could have been bigger!

6. The Return of the King boasts the highest body count of any movie. At 836, it is 226 ahead of its closest rival, Kingdom of Heaven.

7. At the time of release a normal major sci-fi/fantasy motion picture averaged about 200 computer-generated effect shots. The Fellowship of the Ring had 540, The Two Towers had 799, and The Return of the King had 1488.

8. On the last day of their respective shooting each of the principle cast members was given a gift which was usually a prop that was significant to their roles. Miranda Otto received one of Eowyn's dresses and her sword, Liv Tyler received Arwen's "dying dress", Orlando Bloom got one of Legolas' bows. Andy Serkis and Elijah Wood were given the One Ring, both believing they had received the only one. In fact 15 rings were originally produced by a goldsmith in New Zealand, each slightly different in size and weight for samples. From these, one design was selected for the One Ring. Two were made for the scenes with the hobbits (given to Serkis and Wood), a slightly larger one for scenes with Sauron, and a huge one for marketing photography for the movie. It was some time later when Elijah Wood spoke about his gift on a chat show that Andy Serkis realised what had happened and got in touch to break the news that his One Ring was not unique.

9. The Return of the King won all 11 Academy Awards that it was nominated for (a record win, beating The Last Emperor's 9 out of 9). Most notably though, it won the Academy Award for Best Picture, this was the only time a third installment in a trilogy had been awarded that Oscar, and also the only time a fantasy film has ever accomplished that.

10. The very final day of filming on the trilogy actually took place three weeks after the 2004 Academy Awards. Peter Jackson arranged to film one final shot of skulls on the floor in the tunnel of the Paths of the Dead, to be included in the Extended Edition DVD release of The Return of the King. Jackson remarked that it was funny to still be filming on a movie which had already won that years Best Picture Oscar.

Read All Our Lord Of The Rings / The Hobbit Trivia Articles
The Actors Who Could've Been In The Lord Of The Rings
10 things you may not know about The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
10 things you may not know about The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
10 things you may not know about The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
10 things you may not know about The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
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