Things are heating up in Narnia.

"Work on The Narnia Chronicles has started at Peter Jackson's Weta Workshop," reports Bess Manson at Stuff. "A spokeswoman for Weta confirmed it was working on the $170 million film project, but refused to go into detail. Secret negotiations have been going on for months among Walden Pictures, Economic Development Minister Jim Anderton and Bob Harvey, mayor of Waitakere, where much of the filming is expected to take place."

And speaking of the WETA Workshop …

By the time you read this, you may already have seen The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Extended Edition, the new four-disc DVD set, released this week, that expands the second episode of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movie trilogy into a 208-minute event. This new edition fills in many gaps in the story told by last December's 175-minute version.

It's a chance for newcomers to see a more cohesive, complete film, and for fans of the film to see more Treebeard, Gollum, Faramir, and even more of The Fellowship of the Ring's tragic hero Boromir. Those who are picky about Jackson's faithfulness to the original novels will be delighted to see some favorite episodes and memorable moments that were cut from the theatrical version of the film, including (click here to go past some spoilers):

  • Merry and Pippin's visit to Treebeard's home, where he blesses them with a deep drink of the nourishing (and growth-inducing) Ent draught;

  • Frodo and Sam making use of the remarkable rope given to Sam when the fellowship parted company with Galadriel in Lothlorien;

  • Discoveries of Shire-property in the cellars of Isengard after the overthrow; and,

  • perhaps most exciting of all, an explanation of just what became of those orcs who fled the battle of Helm's Deep.

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