When United Artists acquired film rights to “Rings” in 1969, Variety explained that the books’ success was fueled by students, adding that the trilogy “preceded marijuana and LSD in making the younger generation flip.” For years, “Rings” continued to fascinate but frustrate filmmakers. Among those who flirted with film adaptations were Walt Disney, John Boorman and the Beatles; Ralph Bakshi did a 1978 animated version. But a live-action version went nowhere until 1998, when Peter Jackson made a successful pitch to New Line’s Bob Shaye.
On Aug. 31, 1998, Variety announced that New Line would commit $130 million to perhaps the biggest gamble in the history of movies: Jackson would make three films simultaneously. If