Part One Of Epic Trilogy Becomes 'Lord Of The DVD Extras'

Deluxe four-disc 'Rings' box set bursting with bonus material and

The legions of "Lord of the Rings" fans impatiently awaiting the release of

the trilogy's next two installments will soon have a variety of treats to tide

them over.

"The Two Towers," part two of the mythical tale of hobbits, wizards and

orcs, doesn't hit theaters until Christmas. But before that, "Rings"-philes

can look forward to not one, not two, but three different DVD versions of

last year's "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring," according

to the film's official Web site.

Part one of the epic trilogy, starring Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen and a host of

others, recently came away with Best Movie honors at the 2002 MTV Movie

Awards and earned Orlando "Legolas" Bloom a golden popcorn bucket for

Breakthrough Male Performance (see " 'Lord

Of The Rings,' Nicole Kidman On Top At MTV Movie Awards"). All three

DVD editions will carry with them a plethora of extras as studied, intricate

and involved as the wide range of "Rings"-related mythos that has long

crowded bookshelves.

"The Fellowship of the Ring"'s first treatment arrives in stores August 6

and includes three in-depth "behind the scenes" programs, 15 featurettes

originally crafted for the film's Web site (each of which includes several

cast interviews) and a handful of other goodies.

The ornately named Platinum Series Special Extended Edition slated for

November 12 spans a staggering four discs. This edition will include 30

minutes of unseen footage integrated into the main feature, with new music

scored by Academy Award-winning composer Howard Shore. There will also be

four audio commentaries with more than 30 participants including Wood,

McKellen, filmmaker Peter Jackson, his wife and "Rings" partner Fran Walsh,

and several members of the design and production team. And that's just the

first two discs.

The third and fourth discs will include, among many things, an atlas of

Middle Earth; an up-close look at weapons, armor and miniatures; art

galleries with artist commentary; an interactive map of New Zealand shoot

locations; storyboards; a tour of the wardrobe department; and cast photos.

There's also a feature called "A Day in the Life of a Hobbit," which

presumably may cover some of the same ground as MTV's recent feature, "Becoming a Hobbit."

And finally, for the most meticulous of "Rings" collectors there's the

Collector's DVD Gift Set, which houses the four-disc version inside a box

stuffed with trading cards, Argonath polystone figures and a new version of

National Geographic's "Beyond the Movie: The Lord of the Rings" DVD with

additional footage.

Casual movie fans content with a more cursory appreciation of Peter

Jackson's epic first chapter — people with little interest in polystone

figures and Middle Earth atlases — will have two much simpler VHS

versions to choose from: the standard theatrical widescreen release and a

version with the added 30 minutes of bonus footage.