In the books, Tolkien often mentions specific numbers of warriors/units when describing the armies. In Peter Jackson's movies, he uses dramatic camera sweeps and large overviews to show the size and power of the forces.

This page gives counts and ranges of the various army sizes in the Middle-Earth books.

I wonder, were Jackson's renderings true to the numbers that Tolkien indicated? Or did he inflate them for cinematic effect?

Edit I am specifically asking about the visuals, if the visually depicted number of soldiers match the numbers in the books. It seemed to me, when I watched the movies, that the armies had many more soldiers than what had been stated in the books. I assumed that Jackson had done this for visual effect, to make the armies look large and intimidating to a perhaps-jaded audience. But, I wanted to somehow fact-check my perception.

Regardless of what's in a script or on a storyboard, the animators had to (somehow) programmatically indicate an integer number to the renderers (even if, say, they clicked on "10-15,000"). During the creation process, they could have sat down, reviewed the film, and said "This army looks small-- bump it up a bit, it's not scary-looking."

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    Related, not a dupe: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/90752/…
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 19:43
  • I'm pretty sure that the numbers were completely different. (Most were bigger, some were smaller, etc.) I think they mentioned this a couple out times in the bts for the extended editions, but I don't have a source.
    – ibid
    Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 19:55
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    Does dialogue count? In the movie, Theoden says he has six thousand men before Peleanor, which Wikipedia says is the same as the books. Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 20:26
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    Who wants to volunteer to count spears in screenshots? Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 21:05
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    So, basically, the question is (1) what does a 6000-man army look like, and (2) does that match the movie.
    – Martha
    Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 22:09

1 Answer 1


Wikipedia says that the Rohirrim brought 6,000 cavalry to the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.

Here are some images of 6,000 people in formation:

(Note, while the event had 25,000 participants, only 6,000 people were present at the particular location in this image)

enter image description here

And an image from the movie:

enter image description here

They appear to be roughly the same size crowd - the Rohirrim look more crowded, but that is because they on horseback.

Interestingly, Aragorn apparently had 6,000 men at the Battle of the Black Gate

enter image description here

Obviously, they've bunched up a bit more, but that still doesn't look like 6,000 in that image.

As for Mordor's and Orthanc's armies - the book numbers tens of thousands at each of their battles. Apparently, this wasn't enough for the moviemakers, and so they created larger orc armies (from the Extended Edition appendices)

So, to answer your question - yes and no (depending on the army in question).

  • I feel like there's information about the number of costumes produced for the movies that could give an indication of the size of the non-CGI parts, which may add more weight to this answer!
    – user31178
    Commented Feb 2, 2016 at 3:10
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    I'm not sure that would work - there wouldn't be any scale. The number of physical actors in a scene is determined by what is needed to fill the background behind a close/middle shot, and wouldn't relate to the actual size of the army
    – HorusKol
    Commented Feb 2, 2016 at 3:44
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    What is needed is an actual "head" count of cgi soldiers per army from the animators
    – HorusKol
    Commented Feb 2, 2016 at 3:45
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    In the RotK EE appendices they talk about how they drastically increased the number of orcs.
    – ibid
    Commented Feb 2, 2016 at 4:04
  • fair enough if they said that - the books already give something a 10 to 1 advantage for the orcs...
    – HorusKol
    Commented Feb 2, 2016 at 4:37

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