The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’s is returning to theaters for the beloved movie’s 20th anniversary, playing with the extended edition.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is returning to movie theaters 20 years after its theatrical release, this time in the form of the extended edition. Peter Jackson’s fantasy adaptation continues to be celebrated as an epic and satisfying culmination of J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved novels. It received 11 Academy Award nominations and won in every single category, including Best Picture, which is a rarity for fantasy blockbuster films.
Regal Cinemas and Cinemark have confirmed that they will be playing the extended version of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in theaters on April 13. Attendees will also be treated to an introduction from Frodo actor Elijah Wood discussing the impact of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It remains to be seen if Regal Cinemas and Cinemark will extend the showings beyond April 13 or if other theaters will feature it as well. At four hours and 20 minutes, the runtime for the extended version is significantly longer than the already lengthy three hours and 20 minute runtime for the theatrical version.
How Return Of The King’s Extended Edition Improves On The Theatrical Version
The longer runtime during The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King‘s re-release is worth it due to the important scenes that were not included in the theatrical release. One of these improvements happens early on in the movie by showing Saruman’s death. Despite being a major villain in the prior two movies, Saruman does not appear in the trilogy finale’s theatrical version, even when the story shows Isengard after having been taken by the Ents. The extended edition brings Saruman’s story to a decisive end as he falls to his death after being stabbed by Grima Wormtongue.
The extended edition also improves the story for another villain, the Witch-King of Angmar. The depth of his terrifying power is never fully captured in the theatrical version during the Battle of Minas Tirith, while 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 stops and leaves due to the Rohirrim unexpectedly coming to Gondor’s aid. Eowyn killing the Witch-King later on is even more impactful after seeing how he nearly killed Gandalf.
Arguably the most famous scene from the extended edition features the Mouth of Sauron, a gruesome individual who tells Aragorn before the Battle of the Black Gate commences that Frodo is dead, adding even more tension and drama as the heroes make their last stand. With The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King‘s extended edition also fleshing out the afermath of the prior film’s Battle of Helm’s Deep and Isengard and fearuing more of Eowyn after the Witch-King’s defeat, there is plenty for audiences to sink their teeth back into when it arrives in theaters on April 13.