While The Hobbit series didn't quite measure up to the standard set by The Lord of the Rings, Peter Jackson's six movie saga remains one of the most impressive feats in fantasy filmmaking of all time. And now there's one collector's set to rule them all.
Considering that the final movie in the sequence, the Battle of the Five Armies, debuted almost two years ago in late 2014 it would have made sense for the powers that be to get a collector's set out long before now. Still it looks to have been worth the wait with a massive 30 disks and some really impressive packaging.
You'll get the extended cuts of all six films (adding up to almost three hours of new footage) as well as all the special features from the previous releases of each cut of the film. Each movie comes in its own faux leather bound book and it's all collected onto a special shelf which was selected by Peter Jackson himself.
There's also a reproduction of The Red Book of Westmarch- basically the large volume which Bilbo and Frodo are both seen writing in at various times to tell their story. You won't find words inside, instead there are gorgeous illustrations by Alan Lee and John Howe who have been responsible for most of the Tolkien art over the last few decades.
Here's a look at the set:
Now let's dig into it a little bit. There's a huge amount of content here but you won't find a disk for the theatrical cuts- though an Ultraviolet code is supplied for these versions, which is most welcome. It's also worth mentioning that while the extras for The Hobbit movies are all mastered in HD and will be on blu-ray, those for The Lord of the Rings remain standard def on DVD.
That's not really an issue as the extras are still exhaustive, especially as it seems like those rarely seen Costa Botes docs will be on board too, with an amazing fly on the wall angle on the making of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Still it's strange not to see any mention of new content, especially as the films are now behind the cast and crew. Some retrospective material would make this a must buy- where's that epic gag reel from the first three films which has been teased for years?
We can't help but notice that the disks are held in cardboard sleeves inside the books- something which looks nice but ultimately can lead to damage of the delicate rear side of blu rays and DVDs. Maybe stop doing this studio folks.
Still it looks very impressive, and could easily sit alongside those well thumbed copies of the books.
The Middle Earth Ultimate Collector's Edition is set for release in the US on the 4th of October, 2016 - almost 15 years on from the debut of Fellowship. It was originally reported to cost $800 but that price has been removed. Which is as just as well because its insane.