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LOTR Fans Want WB To Release A 'Mithril Edition' Cut Of Peter Jackson's Trilogy

It's no secret that J.R.R. Tolkien fans love a long yarn. The author himself explained in the forward to the second edition of "The Fellowship of the Ring" book that the prime motive for writing his famous trilogy was "the desire of a tale-teller to try his hand at a really long story that would hold the attention of readers, amuse them, delight them, and at times maybe excite them or deeply move them."

When Peter Jackson adapted the lengthy books into his acclaimed trilogy, he substantially altered and reduced the overarching narrative. This was partly to make it more palatable for a crowd of moviegoers who, at the time, found three hours to be a nearly offensive length of time for a film experience. Fast forward two decades and movies are regularly passing that timestamp — and viewers are loving it.

Combine Tolkien fandom's penchant for lengthy tales and the appetite for longer movies, and it's no surprise that Tolkienites are pushing for even lengthier versions of their beloved cinematic trilogy. Two hashtags, #ReleasTheMithrilCut and #SecondExtendedEdition, have been making the rounds on Twitter for a couple of years now. The movement was started by Tolkien TikTok influencer Don Marshall, who has even created merch to fund the effort and respectfully push the movement forward. It has also been backed by various other Middle-earth social media personalities, including Alan Sisto from The Prancing Pony Podcast and Corey Olsen, commonly known as the Tolkien Professor. 

Most recently, Matt from the popular YouTube channel Nerd of the Rings took to Twitter, pushing for a "Mithril Cut" remake, linking to a Change.org petition with nearly 2,500 signatures. The move is warranted, too. With Warner Bros. officially resurrecting the movie side of Middle-earth. The time has never been better for a "Snyder Cut-esque" re-release.

What could a longer extended-extended edition include?

Watching the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy already takes serious commitment. Together, the three theatrical editions clock in at roughly nine hours and 18 minutes of viewing time. The extended editions already in existence tack on more than two hours of additional footage (a respectable movie in and of itself), adding up to a grand total of 11 hours and 21 minutes. This massive addendum already expands scenes from Bilbo's birthday party to the Paths of the Dead. Entirely new segments are also added, such as a duel amidst the wreckage of Isengard between Gandalf and the defeated Saruman or Treebeard's melancholic song about the Entwives.

But it turns out that's just a drop in the bucket for an endlessly thirsty fandom. Over the years, it's become clear through commentaries, interviews, and other hints and riddles that there is still a massive amount of unused material in the form of a truly overwhelming pile of cutting-room floor footage.

This appears to include a scene where Eowyn and Faramir are married — an important and lengthy part of the books merely hinted at in the movies. Samwise Gamgee has a spiritual duel with the mysterious "Watchers" who guard the Tower of Cirith Ungol. A chunk of Aragorn and Arwen's earlier courtship was filmed at one point. There's a scene where Frodo looks like Gollum in a "could have been" flash forward. The Woodland Elf prince Legolas has a conversation with the venerable Treebeard. Gimli is shown as the Lord of the Glittering Caves in the epilogue of the story. The list goes on and on.

What are the odds we could get a second extended edition?

Despite the massive amount of pre-existing finished material, there really does appear to be enough footage out there to warrant another re-release. It isn't too hard to see how the event could play out, too. After all, we live in an age of remakes and re-releases. Disney, for instance, bags a billion dollars a few times a year by simply rebooting live-action remakes of its classic animated films. If Peter Jackson returned to re-release four or even five-hour versions of his movies, in theaters no less, there's a good chance enough people would show up for the experience to make it worth it.

The question is, does Warner Brothers have the guts to empower Peter Jackson to re-release his films, Zack Snyder-style? After all, we know the studio and the director have been talking. "The Return of the King" (in its normal extended format) is already headed back to theaters in 2023 to celebrate the film's 20th anniversary, too. Maybe the stars are aligning for a full-fledged second extended edition to materialize. Then again, it seems just as likely that the hidden footage will never find its way to the big screen or even a straight-to-streaming release. Until the hope is officially buried, though Tolkien fans will forge on, lovingly fighting for an ultra-extended Mithril Cut edition. The craziest part of all of this? 20 years after the trilogy's release, the possibility of the wish becoming reality seems more likely than ever to come true.