Peter Jackson's epic film adaptation of "The Lord of the Rings" thrilled audiences and critics as a masterful piece of cinema. Though long in length—560 minutes for the original theatrical films, 683 minutes for the extended cuts—the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy also brings J.R.R. Tolkien's world of Middle-earth to life in stunning detail on DVD.
"The Lord of the Rings" Two-Disc Theatrical Releases
"The Lord of the Rings" films each got an original theatrical release: These two-disc sets include a limited selection of special features. Apart from standard behind-the-scenes featurettes, each film has a few other noteworthy features: "The Fellowship of the Ring" includes the music video for Enya's "May It Be"; "The Two Towers" has a silent short film made by Sean Astin who plays Samwise Gamgee; and "The Return of the King" features a supercut trailer of the entire trilogy.
"The Lord of the Rings" Special Extended Editions
Each film was also released as a Special Extended Edition with the director's cut of each film—adding two hours of additional content across the trilogy. These have leather-looking sleeves and fold out like books. Each special extended edition also features artwork from Alan Lee, one of the concept artists for the trilogy. Where the theatrical cuts have rather basic behind-the-scenes featurettes, the special extended Appendices—labelled sequentially as Parts 1 to 6—have in-depth featurettes that cover everything from script development and special effects, to sets and miniatures as well as photo galleries with audio.
"The Lord of the Rings" Limited Editions
"The Lord of Rings" also saw "Limited Edition" releases. These two-disc sets feature both the theatrical and extended editions on a single disc using seamless branching, though the films still break in half at the same spots as in the Special Extended Editions, and you have to flip the disc. The only bonus features are new making-of documentaries directed by Costa Botes, which primarily focus on the behind-the-scenes interactions of the cast and filmmakers.
Trilogy Box Sets
All three variations saw box-set releases. However, none of the "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy box set offers any additional special features beyond what is already offered for each film. They are simply box holders for the individual cases.
Collector's Gift Sets
Each film had a "Collector's Gift Set" release, containing the Special Extended version of the film, a collectible sculpture, and a bonus DVD. "The Fellowship of the Ring" includes bookends modelled after the Argonath and a "National Geographic"; "The Two Towers" features a statue of Gollum and a DVD about the making of the Sideshow Weta statue series. "The Return of the King" includes a statue of Minas Tirith and a DVD detailing composer Howard Shore's work on the film.