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- The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 
- The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies 
- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Special Extended Edition) 
- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring 
- The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers 
- The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (Special Extended Edition) 
- The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King 
- The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship & Towers Special Extended Versions 
- Lord of the Rings Movie Festival 
- The Lord of the Rings Trilogy 
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Regular readers here know that I'm a big fan of The Lord of the Rings trilogy of movies, and I had no difficulty buying both the theatrical and extended editions of the DVD box sets of the movies when they were released. It is with great joy and anticipation that I can tell you that the Blu-ray high definition box set of the entire trilogy (theatrical edition) is now available for pre-order from Gift Shop merchant Amazon.com!
A release date has not been provided by the studio, but I expect that it will be available sometime around November 2009.
The pre-order price is $69.99, which is 30% off the $99.98 retail price, and Amazon has a pre-order price guarantee, which means that you can pre-order it now, and if it goes down in price at any time between now and its release, you automatically get the lowest price when it does ship.
New Line/Warner Bros. is being very clear about the fact that this is the theatrical editions of the movies, and that an extended edition box set will be released closer to the theatrical release of The Hobbit - Part 1 in 2011 or The Hobbit - Part 2 in 2012.
Details about the extras are sketchy at this point, but they will certainly be forthcoming as the release date approaches. The worst-case scenario is that the box set is movies-only and no extras, so one could look at it as whether getting three movies for $70 is a good deal? Just over $23 for new releases on Blu-ray is about right.
While they could be considered catalog titles by now (The Return of the King debuted in theaters in December 2003), it's easy to argue that they are A-list titles, on the order of the Indiana Jones and Star Wars franchises. Given that the box set is reported to have six discs, it's logical to assume that some extras will be included. I also have great confidence that Peter Jackson and Warner Bros. know the value of this franchise and will not disappoint fans by providing only the movie. I expect that we'll see a package very similar in content to the DVD release, only in high definition.
Some people are crying that the extended versions should be included in the same package. In many cases, with other movies, I would say that there would be cause for that approach. However, the extended editions aren't just 2 minutes of additional video thrown in for the sake of getting a bullet-point on the box. Combined, the extended editions of the three movies contained over two hours of additional footage! Additionally, the extras provided in the DVD releases of the theatrical and extended editions contained very little overlap, so there is a lot of bonus material available. To put all of this into a single package would probably cost as much as the two separate editions anyway, and that price may put the set out of the price range of a lot of people.
So long as this box set has excellent picture quality, lossless sound, and is followed by a similar set for the extended editions as expected, I don't have any problem paying for two sets in the end. It is my hope that along with HD extras in this package, that there will be content that will take advantage of the advanced features made available by the Blu-ray format. Picture-in-picture commentaries and making-of sequences would be very cool, and of course, an isolated score would be icing on the cake!
From my perspective, pre-ordering it now carries no risk and the potential for an even lower price. If I change my mind for some reason before it's released, it's not a problem to cancel the order as my credit card doesn't get charged until it ships.
If you feel the same, please feel free to pre-order the The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy (Theatrical Editions) on Blu-ray today!
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