Limited Paper: Mondo Mystery Movie X LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING Recap with Special Guest Elijah Wood

     July 6, 2012

The last time we did the Mondo Mystery Movie dance, it was October of 2011.  For that event, the good folks at Mondo/the Alamo Drafthouse arranged for a dozen charter busses’ worth of film geeks and poster fans to be ferried (via police escort) across Austin to a nearly-abandoned mall swarming with “zombies”, at which time we were all shown an extremely special screening of George Romero’s Dawn of The Dead.  Nine months later, the Mondo Mystery Movie returned to Austin, and—as you might’ve already heard—the results were fantastic.  Read on for my report from Mondo Mystery Movie 10, my fellow limited paper enthusiasts.

lord-of-the-rings-return-of-the-kingLast night, if you’d wandered into theater two at the South Lamar Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas, here’s what you would’ve seen:  Elijah Wood, staring back at a sold-out crowd of films geeks and poster nerds (all of whom—it’s worth mentioning— have been drinking beer in the sun all afternoon).  Next to him is Justin Ishmael, creative director of the Alamo Drafthouse’s movie-poster powerhouse, Mondo.  The two have just revealed that the heavily buzzed-about tenth Mondo Mystery Movie will be…1996’s Flipper?  The audience is confused.

“Does anyone have any questions?” Wood asks.

Without skipping a beat, someone calls out, “Did Flipper ever touch you in your no-no place?”

Wood starts to respond (“Well, I—“), and then someone else yells out, “Did Paul Hogan ever touch you in your no-no place?!”

Thus began Mondo’s tenth Mystery Movie, which—as it turns out—was not 1996’s Flipper.   Instead, the assembled crowd of limited paper enthusiasts was treated to a flat-out amazing (and lengthy) screening of Peter Jackson’s Lord of The Rings:  The Return of The King (Director’s Cut).  We already showed you what Aaron Horkey’s amazing Return of The King print looks like, but here it is again, for those that managed to sleep through last night’s awesomeness:

  • Artist: Aaron Horkey
  • Size: 19.25 x 39
  • Edition: 260 (regular), 125 (variant)



Holy Soiled Pants, Batman.  That’s a serious set of prints, right there.  For those that didn’t catch last night’s announcement, this behemoth weighs in at a massive 19.25×40”, the inks on that variant are, in fact, metallic (fun fact:  if you look at the print rightside up, the lighter ink appears to be silver, but when looked at from top-down, the ink appears to be gold—it’s insane), and every last one of the prints in this run is signed by artist Aaron Horkey.  Oh, and the variant edition is numbered out of 125, while the regular’s a slightly-larger 260.

the-lord-of-the-rings-return-of-the-kingWhy the overages?  BadassDigest is reporting that the remaining prints will go up for sale online (“….eventually”), but the word on the street in Austin yesterday—during a lengthy wait for 7pm to roll around—was that the remaining prints would probably be popping up at the 2012 San Diego Comic Con, which is just days away from kicking into high gear.  In either event, this is the first Mondo Mystery Movie we can recall that offered more prints in the run than there were seats in the theater.

But that probably has a little something to do with the announcement of Mondo’s acquisition of the Lord of The Rings license:  a license this big doesn’t come along every day, and offering a few extras on top of this screenprint means that a few lucky LOTR fans who weren’t in Austin last night will have a shot at picking one of these up once they go on sale.  Oh, sure, it’ll be tough to score whether it ends up online or at Comic Con—that’s the nature of the beast, folks—but that’s better than having no chance to score at all, right?  To misquote Lloyd Christmas:  they’re saying….there’s a chance.

So, you’ve seen the print, but how was the event?

Some line-campers arrived as early as 8am yesterday morning, quickly establishing a base camp of sorts along the row of picnic tables outside the S. Lamar Alamo Drafthouse.  By noon, there were roughly 50 people camped out, everyone milling about, fraternizing, soaking up some of the Drafthouse’s gloriously cold booze.  The temperature was skirting an even 100 throughout the afternoon, and despite the fact that we remained outside until close to showtime, spirits remained high:  Mondo fans played the “What movie will it end up being?!” guessing game that always accompanies a Mondo Mystery Movie screening, talked posters, and generally nursed hangovers from the night before (there was a massive poster-swap/BBQ held at Limited Paper HQ the day before;  see photo at the end of this page).

Around 4:30 or 5pm, Mondo’s Mo Shafeek came out and worked his way up the line, giving everyone who’d been waiting their first chance to toss down the $175 necessary to secure a variant edition of…well, whatever the Mystery Print turned out to be.  There was a small amount of hemming and hawing from the crowd when they realized they were going to have to toss down such a sizable wad of cash without getting a look at the poster first, but those folks quickly came to their senses:  any time a Mondo print runs over the normal $50 price point, it’s generally something extra special (and, as it turned out, that’s precisely what it was:  the variant edition of Horkey’s Return of The King is dumbfoundingly awesome in person).

Once Mo had finished variant-selling his way through the line, everyone filed into the Alamo Drafthouse lobby to finish out the wait:  by that point, there was just over 90 minutes until showtime, and rumors were flying fast and furious.

We heard (yet again) that the movie would be Jaws.  We heard that there were going to be multiple posters, not just one.  We heard that the poster was drawn by Martin Ansin.  We heard that this would be a surprise screening of Blade Runner, and that MMMX would turn out to tie into the Drafthouse’s ongoing Summer of ’82 series.  And yes, there were rumors that the film might be Lord of The Rings. But almost everyone who had their fingers crossed on that front was also guessing that we’d be seeing Fellowship of The Ring:  virtually no one guessed that Return of The King would screen.   Almost of these rumors turned out to be nonsense, of course, but—as always—it was fun playing “What if?” up until the last moment.

When Ishmael introduced Elijah Wood to the crowd, it’s probably fair to say that most people in the crowd knew right then and there that Lord of The Rings was being kicked off at MMMX.  Wood and Ishmael played a brief game with the crowd, however, both of them talking about a “really important, successful film” based on a “beloved series” that “means so much to so many people” without coming right out and naming the film-in-question.  It was at that point that the evening’s film was “revealed” as Flipper, which—as we noted earlier—was followed immediately with Wood being asked if he’d been “touched in his no-no place” by Crocodile Dundee.

Perhaps in a nod to the first Mondo Mystery Movie—where ten minutes of Jim Carrey’s The Mask was played before the evening’s real film, Akira, screened—Ishmael and company then played the first 10 minutes or so of Flipper (which, by the way, I was actually kind of getting into right around the time they shut it off:  any film whose first 10 minutes features Spaghetti-O’s, dolphins being shot by Mike from Breaking Bad, and Crocodile Dundee using a blowtorch to make toast will always get my seal of approval).  After that, the director’s cut of Lord of The Rings: Return of The King began, and…well, if you’ve ever seen that particular director’s cut, you know it’s lengthy.

Around 11:30pm, the film ended, and Grammy-winning Mondo overlord (that’s not what’s on his business cards, but it should be) Rob Jones took to the stage to reveal Aaron Horkey’s amazing poster.  The crowd got a good gawk in at the print, quickly fled into the lobby to snatch up their prints (in a nice touch, these were handed out from the old, pre-Mondo Gallery Mondo-store location inside the Lamar Drafthouse), and then hung around outside excitedly chattering about the long-ass day that had just come to a close.

All in all, this was one of the best Mondo Mystery Movie events I’ve personally attended, and not just because a Lord of The Rings film—any LOTR film, for that matter—is pretty tough to beat:  with each new Mondo-hosted event here in Austin, the Mondo fanbase grows a little more, and with that growth comes an ever-expanding community of like-minded poster collectors.  It’s great to interact with fellow fans at these events, and there seems to be remarkably little drama whenever such a get-together takes place.  Landing the LOTR license, artist Aaron Horkey, and Elijah Wood was a major coup for Mondo on this one, and sets the bar even higher for Mondo Mystery Movie XI.

Special thanks to Justin Ishmael, Mo Shafeek, Justin B, the rest of the Mondo team, Billy Garret (photos), the fine folks at both Fons PR (Brandy rocks!) and the Alamo Drafthouse, and everyone that attended the DrScott BBQ on July 4th:  this was one of the all-time best 4th of July celebrations I’ve ever been a part of, and the fact that I’ve got a giant-ass Horkey print to commemorate that celebration is one helluva cherry on top of an already-amazing cake.

Stay tuned for more from Limited Paper in the days ahead:  we’re headed to Comic Con this week, and are going to have a number of amazing prints to show you starting on July 11th.  Before we get to that, though, we’ve got one or two more installments of Limited Paper to dump in your laps, so keep your eyes trained on for more info on the Breaking Bad screenprint series, Tom Whalen’s journey to the Land of The Lost, and much, much more.  As always, you can sound off in the comments section below if you’ve got anything you’d like to add to all this!

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