The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is a film directed by Peter Jackson. It is currently in post-production (as of April 2003) and is due for theatrical release on Wednesday, December 17, 2003. The premier screening is proposed to be held in Wellington, New Zealand.
The film retells the story contained in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Return of the King, the third part of his epic fantasy The Lord of the Rings. (This story also served as the basis of an animated film of the same name that debuted on U.S. TV in 1980, featuring the voices of Orson Bean[?] as Frodo Baggins and John Huston as Gandalf.)
According to some newspaper reports Andy Serkis[?] will appear in person in a flashback scene playing Sméagol before his degradation into Gollum. In his degraded state Gollum is "played" in the movies by a CGI character whose movements are derived from a "motion-capture" suit worn by Serkis.
This film will almost certainly contain key scenes that occurred in the middle portion of the novel The Lord of the Rings but were not included in the film The Two Towers. These include a confrontation at Isengard in which Gandalf casts Saruman out of the order of wizards, as well as the scene in which the monstrous Shelob attacks Frodo and is wounded by Sam. Other key events include the Siege of Gondor, the Battle of the Pelennor Fields[?], the destruction of the One Ring and the final fall of Sauron, Aragorn's assumption of the throne, and the departure of several of the heroes to the Undying Lands.
One sequence that will not make it from the book into the film despite the hopes of many fans, according to repeated statements by Jackson, is the "Scouring of the Shire", in which the Hobbits return home at the end of their quest to find they have some cleaning up to do. The fall of Saruman originally takes place at the end of this scene, so it is not clear where it will occur in the movie.
The end of the book is highly anticlimactic in many respects; following the destruction of the One Ring, most of the second half of The Return of the King consists of scenes that tie up loose ends, which will almost certainly have to be cut or briefly summarized in the film. One wonders how much will remain of Saruman's confrontation with Galadriel, Gandalf's departure from the Hobbits, Frodo's periodic bouts of illness following his return to the Shire, or the later history (from the Appendices) of the characters after the Ringbearers' departure from the Grey Havens.