Even given the hundreds of DVD releases with thousands of documentaries and behind-the-scenes featurettes, it wouldn't be difficult to mount an argument that the multi-disc Lord of the Rings Extended Edition sets are the most insightful and informative releases in all of home video history. Back on VHS, Lucas pioneered making-of supplemental materials when he released an impossibly expensive widescreen box set for Star Wars, and of course the laserdiscs offered plenty of inside information as well. But at a time when computer-generated special effects were colliding with unprecedented consumer interest in not just watching but owning seemingly every single movie, the Lord of the Rings releases galvanized audience interest in the filmmaking process with the true meaning of added-value content in a way that few other releases have before or since.
All of which is why the release of the new Lord of the Rings – The Motion Picture Trilogy box set may inadvertently provide a second, decidedly sadder benchmark in home video history: the moment when those same consumers seriously began to question what was "added" in added-value releases. Bereft of any new content, not to mention the lion's share of the meatier bonus content from previous releases, the high-definition debut of these three films only serves as a reminder that there may be only so much to say about a movie series, even one as beloved as this, before its continued popularity is more about making money than in maintaining a lasting legacy.