British film writer Ian Nathan (obnoxious LinkedIn bio here) recently published his newest book "Anything You Can Imagine: Peter Jackson & The Making of Middle-Earth," in which he details a conflict between producer Harvey Weinstein and director Peter Jackson that nearly resulted in an entirely different Lord of the Rings.
According to Nathan, Weinstein thought Jackson wasted $12m in developing a two-movie script and threatened to replace him with Quentin Tarantino or John Madden (Shakespeare in Love) if he didn't turn it into a single two-hour film.
See a speculative fancast of a Tarantino LotR
Jack Lechner (development head of Miramax) sent an outline of what he called "a more radical, streamlined approach," including the following changes:
- Cutting Helm’s Deep
- Eowyn as Boromir’s sister
- No Faramir
- No Balrog
- No Saruman
Turning down the proposition (knowing it "was literally guaranteed to disappoint every single person that has read that book"), Jackson told Miramax: “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.”
Weinstein was eventually persuaded to let Jackson and partner Fran Walsh sell elsewhere. New Line Cinema picked it up and made the trilogy Jackson envisioned; he won a best director Oscar for The Return of the King and the series won 17 Oscars in total.
Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4