The extended edition of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is returning to theaters 20 years after its theatrical premiere. Peter Jackson’s fantasy adaption is still hailed as an epic and satisfying conclusion to J.R.R. Tolkien’s renowned works. It was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won in every single category, including Best Picture, which is unusual for fantasy blockbuster films.
Regal Cinemas and Cinemark have announced that the extended version of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King will be released in cinemas on April 13. Guests will also hear an introduction from Frodo actor Elijah Wood, who will examine the influence of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
It remains to be seen whether Regal Cinemas and Cinemark will prolong the showings until April 13, or whether it will be shown in other locations as well. The runtime for the extended version is four hours and twenty minutes, which is much longer than the already lengthy three hours and twenty-minute runtime for the theatrical version.
Because of the key moments that were not included in the theatrical edition, the lengthier runtime of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is worth it. One of these enhancements occurs early in the film when Saruman dies. Despite being a key villain in the previous two films, Saruman does not appear in the theatrical version of the trilogy finale, even when the tale depicts Isengard after being captured by the Ents. The expanded edition concludes Saruman’s saga with him dying after being stabbed by Grima Wormtongue.
The Witch-King of Angmar’s tale is likewise improved in the expanded version. During the Battle of Minas Tirith, the depth of his terrifying power is never fully captured in the theatrical version, whereas the extended edition features his confrontation with Gandalf, who is barely able to hold his own against the Witch-King as the formidable villain breaks the wizard’s staff and nearly kills him. The Witch-King only comes to a halt and departs when the Rohirrim suddenly comes to Gondor’s help. After nearly murdering Gandalf, Eowyn’s death of the Witch-King is even more powerful.
The expanded edition’s most famous sequence involves the Mouth of Sauron, a horrific figure who tells Aragorn before the Battle of the Black Gate begins that Frodo is dead, creating considerably more suspense and drama as the heroes make their final stand. With the extended edition of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King fleshing out the aftermath of the previous film’s Battle of Helm’s Deep and Isengard and featuring more of Eowyn after the Witch-defeat, King there is plenty for audiences to sink their teeth back into when it arrives in theaters on April 13.