By clicking on the site's "Creation" option, visitors can preview nine gorgeous concept paintings that include landscape scenes, an illustration of Frodo and Sam gazing at an army of Orcs and a sketch of Gandalf confronting the evil balrog. The paintings are only the first elements of what New Line Cinema hopes will become a truly unique interactive experience. "Lord of the Rings carries a great deal of respect and power in people's minds," says Gordon Paddison, New Line's director of interactive publicity. "We wanted to [create] a place where we could start a dialogue with the fans. We didn't want to slap something together that says, 'Go see the movie!'"
According to Paddison, the Web site is being developed with the full cooperation of director Jackson and his crew. The evolving production will be traced through the eyes of the filmmakers, with an emphasis on in-depth content rather than fluff. "We will focus very much on the process with which Peter approached the film,[the reason] why he's doing Lord of the Rings and his philosophy behind it," Paddison explains, "We're trying to set something up where we can be a conduit for official information without allowing the site to turn into a rumor mill. It'll be an exploration of the [filmmaking] process."
The next major addition to the site will be a Lord of the Rings Web browser that launches this fall. By downloading the free browser, fans can access exclusive news updates, production information from the film's New Zealand set and a video greeting from Jackson. Paddison also promises that the official site will soon provide additional forums where Tolkien fans can intermingle. "This site really isn't about us, about marketing the movie," he says. "It's about the fans."