Did Quentin Tarantino Almost Direct The Lord of the Rings?
If you sit down to watch Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy today, the most conspicuous credit onscreen is the one belonging to Harvey Weinstein. In addition to being one of the world’s most notorious predators, Weinstein is famous for abandoning this blockbuster franchise. New Line Cinema took over the project when Weinstein got cold feet, but the outcome was almost very different.
In a new book about director Peter Jackson and his six Tolkien movies (Anything You Can Imagine: Peter Jackson and the Making of Middle-earth), Ian Nathan explains that Weinstein had a problem with the two-movie script Jackson and Fran Walsh were developing for The Lord of the Rings. At one point, Jackson was told he had to deliver a single two-hour script or be replaced by frequent Weinstein collaborator Quentin Tarantino. Knowing Weinstein’s rampant dishonesty, Tarantino was probably never consulted or interested, but that didn’t stop the mogul from making this threat.
After receiving a memo proposing “a more radical, streamlined approach,” Jackson instantly reached his decision. “It was literally guaranteed to disappoint every single person that has read that book,” he said, before detailing his reaction to the offer. “We’d rather have our lives and do our films and not deal with all this crap anymore. Tell Harvey to go ahead and make his film and good luck.”
Of course, the Tarantino threat proved to be bogus and Jackson managed to go elsewhere, expanding the series into a trilogy. Ironically, the franchise’s ultimate success taught Weinstein a valuable lesson. Just a few years later, he encouraged Tarantino to turn Kill Bill—which was planned as a single film—into two films, resulting in one of Miramax’s biggest successes.
For a reminder of what Jackson achieved without Weinstein’s support, check out the trailers for The Lord of the Rings trilogy below.