The Tarantino-Weinstein 'Lord of the Rings' Movie Would Have Sucked

We dodged a bullet, guys.

by River Donaghey
May 4 2018, 3:51pm

Tarantino photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images

In some parallel universe, one not so different from our own, Peter Jackson never made his Lord of the Rings film trilogy. He never went to New Zealand, he never cast Elijah Wood, he never filmed those Hobbit movies, and... alright, maybe that one wouldn't be so bad. But in this parallel plane of existence, the Lord of the Rings movies weren't a trilogy at all—it was one movie, directed by Quentin Tarantino. And it probably would have sucked.

According to Anything You Can Imagine, an upcoming book about Peter Jackson's quest to make his now-legendary Lord of the Rings trilogy, that's almost what happened, the Guardian reports.

Back in the late 90s, when Jackson was in early development on the series with Miramax, then-Miramax head Harvey Weinstein tried to push him to condense all three stories into one single Lord of the Rings movie. Weinstein's idea for the film, which he reportedly detailed in a 1998 memo to Jackson, would have completely cut out the Balrog, all of Helm's Deep, and possibly even Saruman, according to Stuff.

When Jackson pushed back, saying that the version was "guaranteed to disappoint every single person that has read that book," Weinstein reportedly threatened to cut him out of the project entirely and replace him with Quentin Tarantino.

"Harvey was like, 'You’re either doing this or you’re not. You’re out. And I got Quentin ready to direct it,'" producer Ken Kamins told the book's author, Ian Nathan.

Jackson eventually split with Miramax and went to New Line, where he was allowed to craft the trilogy as he wanted, and the rest is history or whatever. But what would a Tarantino-helmed Lord of the Rings movie actually have looked like, if that had actually come to pass? The truth is, it would probably have been terrible.

Look, there's no denying that Quentin Tarantino is a genius director. Half of his films so far are stone-cold classics—fight me on which half—and the guy has shaped American independent cinema for the past two decades. But the closest he's ever gotten to fantasy is probably writing From Dusk Till Dawn, and Tarantino's way too self-conscious a director to tackle something like Frodo and Sam's friendship as earnestly as it needs to be. Plus, trying to condense a 455,000-word trilogy of beloved novels into a slim, two-hour runtime is already nearly impossible, no matter who you are. Ralph Bakshi's animated Lord of the Rings movie may be beloved by 15-year-olds who just discovered mushrooms, but it is a flawed film and still only managed to cover Fellowship and part of Two Towers.

To be fair, Weinstein's threat was likely just a bluff, since Tarantino was fresh off of Jackie Brown at that point and not yet the proven powerhouse who could be trusted with such a massive property. He is now, though, so maybe Amazon should hit him up about its new Lord of the Rings series—especially since the director seems to be down with established franchises these days.

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