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Special Extended Return of the King DVD Now Available

The wait is overthe four-disc THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING SPECIAL EXTENDED DVD EDITION (New Line Home Ent., $39.99) hit stores on Dec. 14, 2004. As expected, it contains more than 50 minutes of new footage, including a cameo by director Peter Jackson being quelled by an arrant arrow, and 300 new vfx shots (for a 250-minute running time). A five-disc collectors gift set, featuring a 52-minute doc on Howard Shores composing, additionally sells for $79.99.

The Oscar-winning film is presented on discs one and two, along with four newly recorded audio commentaries by director Peter Jackson, the writers, the design and production teams (including Richard Taylor) and the cast. One of the highlights is a fun dialogue between split-personality characters Gollum and Smeagol by Andy Serkis.

Disc Three (The Appendices, Part V -- The War of the Ring) includes a video introduction by Jackson, The Legacy of Middle-earth doc, the From Book to Script: Forging the Final Chapter doc, an abandoned concept featurette: Aragorn Battles Sauron, the final parts of the Designing Middle-earth, Big-atures, Weta Workshop and Costume Design docs, design galleries with more than 2,100 images (divided into The Peoples of Middle-earth, The Realms of Middle-earth and Miniatures), the Home of the Horse Lords doc and more Middle-earth Atlas: Tracing the Journeys of the Fellowship and New Zealand as Middle-earth interactive maps (with production footage).

Disc Four (The Appendices, Part VI -- The Passing of an Age) includes a video introduction by Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan, the final part of the Cameras in Middle-earth doc on the making of the film, a production photo gallery with more than 60 images, the last part of the Weta Digital visual effects doc, a multi-angle The Mumakil Battle interactive demonstration, the Editorial: Completing the Trilogy, Music for Middle-earth, The Soundscapes of Middle-earth and The End of All Things docs, The Passing of an Age doc, the Cameron Duncan: The Inspiration for Into the West doc, the DFK6498 and STRIKE ZONE short films.

The Weta Digital doc explores the evolution of the effects house throughout the trilogy as well as the challenge of completing 1,488 shots for RETURN OF THE KING. During one tense moment, the digital staff is told by Jackson that they have to redo some shots, making their task even more difficult as they try to make a four-week deadline in which 800 shots still need to be completed.

There is also a 30-second Mûmakil Battle multi-angle effects demo that highlights the previs, live-action plate and 3D animation work individually or together, with informative commentary by supervisor Jim Rygiel and other members of the vfx team.