Movies - High-Def 'Hunt For Gollum,' New Lord Of The Fanvids In Britain, die-hard Lord of the Rings fans have put together a 40-minute film "inspired by" the Peter Jackson trilogy. It looks gorgeous. It's free to download starting May 3. And it's totally unauthorized.
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High-Def 'Hunt For Gollum,' New Lord Of The Fanvids

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High-Def 'Hunt For Gollum,' New Lord Of The Fanvids

High-Def 'Hunt For Gollum,' New Lord Of The Fanvids

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/103673352/103675964" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

On Sunday, a brand-new movie prequel to "The Lord of the Rings" is premiering. It's a 40-minute, high-definition film released over the Internet. The prequel was made by fans who earn no profit on it.

Still, NPR's Laura Sydell reports that the producers are walking a fuzzy legal line.

LAURA SYDELL: "The Hunt for Gollum" looks just like the Hollywood version. I was fooled the first time I saw it.

(Soundbite of film, "The Hunt for Gollum")

Mr. CHRISTOPHER DINGLI (Actor): (As Gollum) Precious. We will burn the Precious.

SYDELL: The actors are dead ringers for the stars of "The Lord of the Rings." The costumes appear identical. The special effects in the trailer are flawless.

(Soundbite of film, "The Hunt for Gollum")

(Soundbite of music)

SYDELL: But "The Hunt for Gollum" is the work of 150 volunteers.

Mr. CHRIS BOUCHARD (Director, "The Hunt for Gollum"): We're essentially a bunch of fans and enthusiast filmmakers making this unofficially.

SYDELL: Chris Bouchard is the director. He's been working on this 40-minute mini-feature for two years. He made up the plot, which focuses on a search to find the deranged Gollum. The fear is that Gollum might reveal the whereabouts of the magic ring to the powers of darkness.

Mr. BOUCHARD: I guess this story is really just a small chapter when you compare it to a full feature film. We tried to expand it a bit and try and show the epic scale of Middle Earth as well, in kind of a tribute to what Peter Jackson did.

SYDELL: Of course, Academy Award-winning screenwriter and director Peter Jackson might not consider this production a tribute, nor might New Line Cinema, which produced the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy into film, or JRR Tolkien's family, which owns the rights to his books.

Mr. FRED VON LOHMAN (Senior Staff Attorney, Electronic Frontier Foundation): Well, I think it's an interesting question.

SYDELL: Fred Von Lohman is an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Von Lohman says it's not really clear whether or not Bouchard and his crew of volunteers are in violation of the copyright for Tolkien's work. Von Lohman says fans have always written their own stories based on TV shows and movies. That's legal, but a high-quality movie available over the Internet could change the game.

Mr. VON LOHMAN: Now, the fans can reach a global audience immediately through the Internet. And now we have video hosting sites that can, you know, make that available in a global way.

SYDELL: Von Lohman says he could imagine a court might decide that "The Hunt for Gollum" violates the copyright of the Tolkien family because it may get in the way of their right to make money on licensing and franchising.

The entire 40-minute film will be released on Sunday in HD on the Internet. You can see the trailer right now on our Web site, npr.org.

Laura Sydell, NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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