The first installment of the trilogy was met with guarded optimism (although there was some concern about certain casting decisions, i.e. Nishioka as a Hobbit). Unfortunately, LOTR II was both a critical and box office flop. Consequently, the studio has put production of the third installment--The Return of the (Championship) Ring on indefinite hold. While no decisions have been made yet, it seems as if everyone involved in the movie is on shaky ground, most notably the Producer. Changing Directors may even be considered, although Peter Jackson is currently unavailable.
Still, quite a few of the events prophecied in the books have come true. I've also reconsidered a few of my interpretations and revised them accordingly. More after the jump.
As predicted, Boromir/Delmon was eventually slain by orcs. In a departure from the books, Sauron used dark magic to revive him as some sort of Zombie Hacking Half-Orc, and he is currently hitting third for the Dark Lord.
Also as predicted, King Theoden/Jim Thome achieved a great victory at Helms Deep but eventually was slain/traded to Cleveland. Most recently, a great ceremony of appreciation was held in his honor at Minas Tirith/Target Field, and he responded by leaping off his funeral pyre and whacking off his 603rd career Orc head.
Orlando Bloom was replaced by Justin Timberlake in the role of Legolas, center fielder. Not as much 'gravitas' as Bloom, but more popular with some demographics, and cost-controlled. While Bloom is still under contract, expect him to be traded to "The Nationals of the Far Northern Caribbean: On Strasburg Tides" production in the offseason.
Joe Benson debuted in the role of Faramir. Though long considered to be of lesser 'quality' than his departed brother--Boromir after all was a former number one overall pick, while Faramir was merely a second rounder--it is becoming apparent that Faramir has far better range and character. Bonus: Benson is nearly a dead-ringer for Faramir, right down to the mullet. While he may be banished back to Osgiliath/Rochester for a while longer, expect big things from him going forward.
As for Gimli son of Gloin, Kubel son of Hrbek may not be around for the final chapter, so Chris Parmalee is auditioning for the role. I saw him run to first base the other night, and he definitely has the dwarf running style down pat. Now if he just shows up for spring training with a rich, luxurious beard, I think he'll get the part.
Nishioka, who also played the role of Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, may well lose his role as a starting Hobbit, and instead be pushed into the role of utility Hobbit or possibly even the role of the Old Gaffer. Alternatively, he may be traded back to Japan to revive his career in his old role as Short Round in the forthcoming film "Indiana Jones and the Crystal Bone Structure."
The casting director is auditioning a variety of actors to take the roles of Merry and Pippin. Currently, Plouffe and Hughes have the inside track, as they drank from the fountain of Treebeard and have developed sword-slashing power not often seen in Hobbits, although it has diminished their craftiness in the field. Also, they are out of options.
The most glaring misinterpretation I've made is the respective roles of Cuddyer and Mauer. Cuddyer is clearly Gandalf--not just a conjurer of cheap tricks, but the undisputed team leader. Willing to stay in the fight despite being nearly killed by a Balrog.
Even more clear to me now is that Mauer is Frodo. Constantly worn down by the weight of the One Ring/Huge Contract/Commercial Filming Schedule/Catching Every Day, he is still clearly the key to the team and the only one who can achieve final victory over the Forces of Darkness. His little bat "Sting/Single" glows green when a breaking pitch is coming, which he'll subsequently hit sharply into short left field. If Mauer is Frodo, that leaves Butera in the role of Samwise Gamgee--"I can't carry the Ring, Mr. Frodo, but I can catch every day!"
No word yet if LOTR III will be released in 2012. 2013 is looking more likely.