Filmmaker Peter Jackson has decided to give credit to The Lord of the Rings fans. Literally.

The writer, director and mastermind behind the hugely anticipated LOTR celluloid trilogy is going to give hardcore Hobbit heads a chance to be immortalized on the film credits of The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King when the movies are released on DVD.

Charter members of the new Web-based Lord of the Rings Fan Club can have their names appear on one, two or all three films, depending on how much they're willing to spend.

A one-year membership at costs $39.95 and is good for a listing on The Fellowship disc. The entry-level membership also includes a subscription to a bimonthly movie magazine, a special lithograph and a 10 percent discount at the site store. A two-year membership (and listing on the first two movies) is $69.95. A three-year subscription (and credits on all three DVDs) will set you back about $100. The offer is good through November 15.

"This is an announcement unprecedented in cinematic history and of immense importance to The Lord of the Rings fans," says Dan Madsen, vice president of Decipher, the company teaming with New Line Cinema to lauch the LOTR fan club. "The fact that these films are being made with such precision and care is exciting in and of itself. But, by agreeing to place fans' names in the credits of the films, Peter is demonstrating that he truly understands what it means to be a fan of this brilliant property."

No doubt about that one.

Jackson has spent the past two years filming the three Lord of the Rings movies back to back to back in New Zealand at a cost of $270 million. Although some industry observers questioned New Line for making such a risky expenditure, the studio's gambit looks like it could pay off.

Between the books built-in (and fanatical) readership, Jackson's equally fanatical attention to detail and an eye-popping 25-minute preview making the Industry rounds, New Line has created a buzz rivaling Harry Potter and the new Star Wars movie. The first installment, The Fellowship of the Ring, hits theaters in the United States on December 19.

Jackson, himself an aficionado of the books, and the studio have carefully catered to Frodophiles. The fan club offer, while a bit commercial, is also expected to generate goodwill among diehard J.R.R. Tolkein geeks. That is, of course, if they can find their names among the thousands of others scrolling by on the DVD (the list would take too long in the theater).

Says Madsen: "This is the first time a director has acknowledged the contribution of fans to the creation of a film in this way."

Elijah Wood, who plays the trilogy's pint-sized star, Frodo Baggins, was purportedly so psyched about the idea that he signed up as the club's first official member.

"Since I started working on these films, I've been amazed by how many people have been impacted by this story and how much they care about it at a deep, emotional level. The fan club creates one big, worldwide society of Lord of the Rings fans and I am proud to be part of that.

"Besides," the actor cracks, "I want to be sure Peter puts my name in the credits of the film's DVD."

We're pretty sure Jackson won't forget.

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