Lord of the Rings Return of the King:
Gary Susman
September 27, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Have you soured on Sauron? Broken the hobbit habit? New Line Home Entertainment believes you haven’t, since the extended version of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is finally coming to DVD and VHS on Dec. 14. The distributor is expecting big sales figures for the four-disc set, which includes an additional 50 minutes of footage and loads of extras, even though viewers have already spent some $1 billion on LOTR videos, including $236 million on the home video of the theatrical version of Return of the King that came out in May, according to trade publication DVD Exclusive. Still, the extended versions of The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers have each sold about 5 million copies, so the longer version of this year’s Best Picture Oscar winner may do the same.

The extended version, which will run 4 hours and 10 minutes with the new footage, includes scenes that die-hard Middle-earth fans have longed to see, including the last stand of the evil wizard Saruman (Christopher Lee, who was cut from the theatrical version altogether) and the romance between Eowyn (Miranda Otto) and Faramir (David Wenham). Sharp-eyed viewers will also spot a cameo by director Peter Jackson, playing a pirate slain by an arrow when Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) and his army of ghosts commandeer his ship. Extras on the four-disc set, which will retail for $39.99, include several background documentaries and audio commentaries from Jackson, stars Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, and Orlando Bloom, and about 30 other members of the cast and crew.

Hardcore hobbit-heads can buy a five-disc collectors’ edition for $79.92. That includes a fifth disc all about the music, which includes concert footage of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra performing Howard Shore’s Oscar-winning score, and a hand-painted sculpture of the multi-tiered city of Minas Tirith, complete with a keepsake box. That should be enough to tide you over, at least until the inevitable boxed set of all three films comes out.

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