Some things would have made a lot more sense (i.e. Boromir's concern for the hobbits, Elven Cloak giving, Speech at Osgiliath, The Death of Saruman, The Witch King breaking Gandalf's staff, The Mouth of Sauron and other scenes as well) and they are far truer to the books.

  • 1
    I guess that its because the movie is already too big without them? It would be really hard to watch it casually.
    – LeonX
    Aug 2, 2017 at 18:22
  • More or less your answers are correct. Aug 2, 2017 at 18:33
  • IIRC there were showings of the EE, e.g. the EE of film 1 just before the premiere of film 2 etc. But more importantly, the EEs were made after the regular versions were in theatres.
    – BCdotWEB
    Aug 2, 2017 at 19:12
  • BCdotWEB,What is IIRC? Aug 3, 2017 at 5:09
  • @TheWitchKingofAngmar If I Remember/recall ** Correcty
    – Paulie_D
    Aug 3, 2017 at 9:34

3 Answers 3


Quite simply...they would have been too long.

Recall, theatres need to show these multiple times per day...the longer the movie is...the less times they can show it.

These movies clock in at:

  • Pt1: 3hr 28m.

  • Pt2: 3hr 44m

  • Pt3: 4hr 12m.

Factor in getting the theatres ready, preview times etc you're not looking at much change from 5 to 6 hours overall.

Assuming you can get people to sit still for that long...most won't

The average mainstream US/European movie clocks in at around 2 hours for a reason, research has shown that that is the optimal length theatergoers prefer (or can stand).

So they can rotate each movie in around 3 to 3/5 hours and the theatre can get one or two more showings in every day and that's MONEY.

Anything else is leaving money on the table.

  • 2
    The average mainstream American movie... Indian films are regularly 3-4 hours long but they have an intermission.
    – Catija
    Aug 2, 2017 at 19:06
  • Noted and edited accordingly.
    – Paulie_D
    Aug 2, 2017 at 19:10
  • I recall the EEs being shown and then there were regular breaks. Even the regular movies had breaks in the middle when I saw them. Breaks = chance to sell more food and drinks + convenience for customers.
    – BCdotWEB
    Aug 2, 2017 at 19:14
  • 1
    I'm not saying they weren't shown just that the primary release would have been the original Theatrical Cut. Any EE showings would have been extra and secondary to the headlining movies also on show.
    – Paulie_D
    Aug 2, 2017 at 19:17
  • 2
    Another factor, is that when they sell the "original" DVD set, weeks or months later they can sell the "Extended Version" again and make more money. It might not be their primary reason, but it's definitely a factor.
    – Tim S.
    Aug 3, 2017 at 17:14

Much of the marketing for movies and the eventual income from them has to do with the ability to capture the most dollars from the audience as possible. With the LotR franchise, there was already a proven market for video and books. Naturally, if positioned properly there was room for toys, accessories, costumes, collectibles and everything else. There will always be rabid fans who have to have everything, including alternate versions of any material if there is enough of a difference. This can be seen especially in today's comic books, where some titles will be released with alternate covers (I believe Harley Quinn #1 from October 2016 holds the record for some 120 or so "variant" covers for a single title).

Now, keep the above info in your back pocket for a sec. Let's go back to what was filmed for the 3 movies in the trilogy. The movies were filmed over a span of 438 days. They had hours of film in the can, but had to pare it down to what an average movie-goer could handle. Basically, 2 hours is considered a ceiling for most movies, you almost never want to go over that because you begin to lose the audience. So each movie was stripped down to a negotiable length and released in theaters.

Now, what do you do with the rest of the video? Well, you cater to the general public first. So the "Theatrical Release" was put out on DVD. Now, let's get back to our back pocket from above. You know you've got rabid fans who have to have everything, so a few months later you release a "Director's Cut". Then you repackage the whole thing and release it again. Then you release a Blu-Ray version with a couple extra "extras" so the hard-core collectors buy that up too. Then, maybe a video game or 2.

The franchise, in its entirety, is said to have brought in over $4B US (nearly $3B alone from box office sales).

  • LOL. An answer got submitted, upvoted and accepted all while I was writing mine. :o) Aug 2, 2017 at 18:49
  • The accepted answer makes a valid point, but doesn't capture the full story. Your point about DVD sales (and now on-demand purchases) is definitely the major driver, speaking as one with some experience in the business of media.
    – DukeZhou
    Aug 2, 2017 at 18:58
  • QT didn't originally want to break up Kill Bill, and the Wbros reported had to cajole him into it, but from a purely economic standpoint, it was surely the most profitable approach.
    – DukeZhou
    Aug 2, 2017 at 19:00
  • "With the LotR franchise, there was already a proven market for video and books." The LOTR movies were a massive gamble and the size of their success was a complete surprise to most involved, IIRC.
    – BCdotWEB
    Aug 2, 2017 at 19:16
  • @BCdotWEB - I'm not saying you're wrong, but I have a hard time believing their success was a surprise if they filmed the entire trilogy at once, and had to put up some $300M to do it. It may have been bigger than expected, but they knew they had an audience for it. Aug 2, 2017 at 20:01

They did. I have seen the extended versions of "The Fellowship of the Ring" and "The Two Towers" in theater in Paris. This was a national release in France (I don't know for other countries) that was just before release of the next episode and also about at the same time of availability of the dvd version.

According to the bonus of these DVDs, the extended version movie editing was ready only months after the initial release.

  • Really?What about the Return of the King? Aug 3, 2017 at 11:24
  • They didn't release the Return of the King extended version in theater. I suppose that for the first two, releasing the extended version of previous episode was only part of the marketing strategy of releasing the new one.
    – ch7kor
    Aug 3, 2017 at 11:51

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