The "Frodo" Franchise: The "Lord of the Rings" and Modern Hollywood Paperback – 12 Aug 2008
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"Whether you are a film scholar, a student, or a Tolkien enthusiast, you will benefit from her [Thompson's] efforts."--"Journal of Popular Culture"
"A lively and quick read that should appeal to scholars and fans alike."--"Tolkien Studies"
"The Frodo Franchise is the best case study yet written about film as a commodity in the global marketplace."--Stephen Prince"Film Quarterly" (12/01/2008)
"For any person interested in the role of franchise film making on modern Hollywood, The Frodo Franchise should be considered required reading."--Terry Hobgood"Film International" (04/01/2009)
"It's always more satisfying to follow the art than the money, but in this comprehensive study you can do both."--Richard Von Busack"Metro Newspapers" (08/29/2007)
The Frodo Franchise is the best case study yet written about film as a commodity in the global marketplace. --Stephen Prince"Film Quarterly" (12/01/2008)"
For any person interested in the role of franchise film making on modern Hollywood, The Frodo Franchise should be considered required reading. --Terry Hobgood"Film International" (04/01/2009)"
It s always more satisfying to follow the art than the money, but in this comprehensive study you can do both. --Richard Von Busack"Metro Newspapers" (08/29/2007)"
From the Inside Flap
"This is the best all-around view of the Tolkien phenomenon. Thompson understands the books, she understands the moviesshe also understands the money and the franchising. Best of all, she understands the people. Thompson offers cultural criticism of the highest order, examining one of the most significant shifts in contemporary popular media."Tom Shippey, author of The Road to Middle-earth
"Reading these chapters has been an absolute pleasure. It s all so complex but so succinct. Thompson has managed to do what so many others have failed to do . . . in chapter one, she has explained how all the rights to LOTR bounced around, and were finally sorted so Peter Jackson could make the movie. I ve never understood the complexities of how that worked until now!"Judy Alley, Merchandising Coordinator, The Lord of the Rings
"I must say that Thompson has written the definitive study of Peter Jackson s work in creating this remarkable production entity."Alex Funke, ASC, Oscar-winning Visual Effects Director of Photography, miniatures unit, The Lord of the Rings
"I had a wonderful time reading those chapters! There s so much I don t know about what went onI am in awe of all the research Thompson has done. It is an extremely interesting read! There s so much there that I d forgotten and I always wished there was a permanent record of many things that happened. Thompson s account of TORN s beginnings and how it functioned gets it absolutely rightmore than that, Thompson captures how it felt to us at the time. Nobody else has managed to get enough of an understanding to do that."Erica Challis ("Tehanu"), co-founder of TheOneRing.net"
Top customer reviews
The book was published in 2007 and has ten chapters, spread over four sections. There are thirty-nine figures as well as twelve colour plates. In her preface and acknowledgements, Kristin Thompson (Honorary Fellow at the University of Wisconsin) states that she interviewed seventy-seven people from all aspects of the film business.
In her introduction, she points out that significant works of art have always had the potential to create a franchise, citing Shakespeare's Falstaff as a good example. She then explains how `TLOTR' also fits the bill, whatever Tolkien himself might have thought of the consequences of his conception.
The first of the four parts - `The Film' - has three chapters. `Prudent Aggression', the title of the first, is an axiom adopted by film studio New Line Cinema. Thompson explains how New Line used `prudent aggression' in the filming of the trilogy - not the nitty-gritty of the daily shoot, but in terms of film rights, studios, potential directors, and economic returns. In this first part, she also explains why changes were made between the book and the film, and the assessments made of the kind of audience for which it was aiming. She writes, "Fans who might object to some of the liberties taken with the story could be consoled by the fact that the physical world described so extensively in the novel was created in rich detail up on the screen."
Part two, again with three chapters, is titled `Building the Franchise.' Here she addresses how the trilogy was advertised; how it was tied in with other brands; the creation of `making of' special documentaries prior to the films' releases; press kits and press junkets. And here she demonstrates how the nascent power of the internet which was then only starting to have such a profound effect on communications helped spread expectation around the world's Tolkien communities. In two chapters she covers (i) official fansites and their relationship of the film to marketing, and (ii) unofficial websites and spin-offs such as fan-fiction sites over which the studio could have little or no control. There was initially a large degree of friction between New Line and unofficial websites until the former realised the level of suitably-controlled but free publicity that the latter could bring to their product.
Two chapters comprise part three, `Beyond the Movie.' In a chapter titled `Licences to Print Money', she analyses the new merchandising opportunities, most especially through the extended DVDs, another new concept in the market that appeared around the turn of the century to set alongside the power of the Internet in franchise promotion. `TLOTR' led the way in terms of extras on these DVDs. Video games are another feature she explores, writing "The games of the franchise have not simply adapted Tolkien's tale. They have expanded his imagined world into a site for interactive play."
The two final chapters that form part four do not really share a subject. In the first she looks at how New Line cleverly persuaded independent film distributors in their respective national territories to take on some of the debt towards making the trilogy even before the first had been completed. In the second she looks at the effect of the making of `TLOTR' on the country in which it was made: "Perhaps no film has had as much impact on the country in which it was made as `Rings' had on New Zealand. The short-term and long range effects on its national economy, on its film industry, and even on its culture in general are astonishing." There is much here about how the film was made in terms of the physical work required and the locations used.
This book then is geared more towards students of cinema as a business rather then to fans of `TLOTR.' Where `TLOTR' led - such as in terms of the issue of extended DVDs, or the interaction with internet fan-bases, or simply through the profits that can be gained through taking a franchise further - others followed, and to that extent the book is of immense insight. But it is noticeable that some of those franchises she mentions as being in the pipeline in 2007 have not appeared after all. Some might indeed blame `TLOTR' for much of the poor films produced by Hollywood since then.
Nevertheless, Thompson has done her homework, interviewed key players, engaged with wide-ranging sources. It is well-written and communicates easily, not being encumbered with academic or philosophical pretensions that much of cinema writing possesses these days. The book is insightful and has important things to say. So why only three stars? Well, because the subject is not one that really appeals to me. This book is about the nuts and bolts, not the magic; it is about the other culture of cinema, the side we do not really know about, or even wish to know about. That is not to say that I did not enjoy some parts of the book; but I was on the verge of boredom in others. This is not the author's fault: I am a student of life, not of the business of making money out of films. (Btw, I loved the films.)
This book is at some point an extension of all the documentaries on the extended dvds but you learn much more in these (besides you even learn how those documentaries were made!). It's a great inspiration, indeed!
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Just make sure you know what you are getting.
I enjoyed this book immensely because it discusses a facet of movie making that I didn't really understand. This book is about the business of making movies and how the Lord of the Rings trilogy was able to capitalize on emerging trends in movie making and internet-based marketing, and how Jackson and his crew used innovative practices and cost-cutting mechanisms to make the film.
Finally, I don't recommend this book if you are interested in learning more about how the movie was filmed. Instead I recommend simply watching the movie development series on the Extended Edition versions.
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