Friday, 31 July 2009

Gimli on display at Weta Cave

The Weta Cave has been rearranging their mini-museum over the last two days. A lot of their older pieces are being put back into storage again, while they're putting other items on display for us to ogle at.

From their website it looks like Gimli (the puppet version, not John Rhys-Davies) has made the list. Unfortunately I won't be able to see it for myself till next week, since I'm away for the weekend, but I just thought I'd give you the sneak update. :)

I'm racking my brains over who the red and green guys are - my guess is they're from Xena or Hercules or something... :) More next week when I find out!

Not confirmed yet, but apparently the Hellboy Gun will also be on display!

- Jack

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

The Hobbit - The Current Facts

Comic-Con'09 has been and gone, and we've learnt essentially nothing, except that we need to forget what we we thought we already knew. I think it's time for a round-up of the most current versions of the "truths" out there. (read : most up to date rumours)

  • NewLine Cinema
  • Warner Brothers
Executive Producer
  • Peter Jackson
  • Fran Walsh
  • Peter Jackson
  • Fran Walsh
  • Philippa Boyens
  • Guillermo del Toro
  • Peter Jackson
  • Guillermo del Toro
Design/Sfx/Middle-earth creators
  • Richard Taylor
  • Alan Lee
  • John Howe
  • Mike Mignola
  • Wayne Barlowe
  • Oscar Chichone
  • Francisco Ruiz Velasco
  • Weta Workshop/Digital
  • Spectral Motion
  • Howard Shore
Bilbo Baggins
  • Sir Ian Holm
  • Daniel Radcliffe
  • James McAvoy
  • Currently favoured rumour : David Tennant ?
  • Other online suggestion : Martin Freeman
The Narrator
  • Sir Ian Holm
  • Sir Ian McKellen
  • Andy Serkis
  • Sir Christopher Lee
  • Hugo Weaving
  • Ron Perlman
King Thranduil(**)
  • Doug Jones
Bard of Laketown(**)
  • Luke Goss
Sets to be reused from LOTR
  • Hobbiton
Contents of movies
  • Movie 1=The Hobbit, Movie 2=bridge between Hobbit and LOTR
  • Movie 1=The Hobbit part 1, Movie 2=The Hobbit part 2
Release Dates for the two movies
  • 2009, 2010
  • 2010, 2011
  • 2011, 2012
  • Dec 2011, Dec 2012

(*) Christopher Lee (excuse me; SIR Christopher Lee!) has indicated about a year ago that he probably won't take part in The Hobbit since his advancing age would prevent him from returning to New Zealand for it, but he would love to do voice work (and suggested Smaug the Magnificent!).

However, when he was awarded his knighthood a few months ago, he couldn't immediately be contacted for comment, since he was filming in New Mexico! So travel doesn't seem to worry him too much yet (I mean, he's only 89!), and I'm sincerely hoping this would extend to reprising his role as Saruman.

(**) Regarding Beorn, King Thranduil and Bard of Laketown, they seem the most likely choices for the three del Toro regulars. Guillermo has indicated they are very likely to be used. Edit: I missed this snippet, but it looks like MTV interviewed Doug Jones, and he'd love to be the elven king as well. Luke Goss is a good friend of GDT as well, and for those who don't remember him, he's already played an elf in Hellboy 2, so I'm guessing he may not want to get typecast, but then again who knows? Perlman, Jones and Goss were all in a different MTV interview at Comic Con'08, where they're basically grovelling to get a Hobbit role.

How accurate is all this? Not very, in all likelihood. Nobody has been confirmed, and even a confirmation isn't a certainty (ask Stuart Townsend how his confirmed Aragorn role went).

I'm heard a lovely line somewhere that I'm fond of repeating - "nothing is certain until you're sitting in the cinema watching the movie. And even then, things can change afterwards (eg, extended versions may come out nine months later which may change things again completely)"

Drop me a line if I've missed anything else we already know. I'll keep this page updated as we discover more, so you can link to here directly.

- Jack M.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Weta Workshop to make new Middle-earth items for us!

It looks like Weta Workshop has finally secured the rights to making more new Middle-earth replicas. The first announcement came through this morning, and is for the following items:

  • 10 only fullsized Anduril swords made by Peter Lyon. I expect these to cost around us$4000.
  • An unknown number of fullsized bronze (or faux-bronzed fibreglass) Gollum statues, as seen at the Weta Cave. Price unknown, and I'd hate to estimate that one. us$10k for the bronze, probably. Much less for the fibreglass one, obviously.
  • Gandalf the Grey cloaks, made not by Weta but by Stansborough, the fabric specialists for Middle-earth, Narnia, and a bunch of other movies (including "30 days of night", of all things). I predict they'll cost us$1000, possibly slightly more. Fantastic quality, by the way. Stansborough is an amazing company, focusing always on quality rather than quantity.
  • And finally, something affordable for the rest of us - a new range of three miniature shields - one elven, one dwarven, and one Gondorian. They can be kept on the custom made bases or "used as badges", which sounds awesome. It doesn't sound like they are limited run items, so hopefully everybody should be able to get one off the Weta website soon. I'm hoping these are truly affordable (us$30 or so) but they're probably more like us$100.

For the last four years or so, Weta Workshop has not made any LOTR related items, due at least partly to NewLine Cinema not renewing the merchandising licenses to Weta.

On top of that, Weta has also had a bad habit of making only limited numbered ranges of miniatures, so once the range is finished, nobody else gets to buy them. This has its good point, of course - if you did manage to secure yourself one, you know it's a highly sought-after item. Some of the items I own were only created 400 times.

The bad part of this is of course; the items are so beautiful you don't actually end up caring if thousands of other people have them - you just want one yourself. Too bad they're no longer available.

I'm sincerely hoping that this time around, Weta has the foresight to create longer lasting licencing rights to continue creating beautiful items for everyone. One of the most often asked items I have from my guests when we get to the Weta Cave has been "why aren't there more LOTR items for sale"? Maybe after "The Hobbit" has been released, and we take people on Hobbit Tours around the region, we will have a better answer to that one.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Taking a short break, do not adjust your sets...

As of next Monday the 6th of July, I'm going to be away for a few weeks. I got married earlier this year (way back in January in fact!) but since I'm a tourguide I couldn't get away in the high season, so the honeymoon has been put off till now.

Of course, in the next two weeks, the following things are bound to happen:

  1. Peter Jackson will get to ComicCon in San Diego, and will announce/confirm every major actor for The Hobbit,
  2. Guillermo del Toro will appear here in Wellington at next week's Unity Books autograph session, and will reveal all sorts of cool Hobbit plans,
  3. The Weta Cave will make a major announcement regarding the new plans for a Middle-earth museum "proper" in Miramar,
  4. Lots of cool people will come into town looking for me,

...and I won't be here.

Oh well, the honeymoon wins out, I'm afraid. My lovely bride, Aiko, and myself will disappear to a totally secret and undisclosed location (around Brisbane, Australia, actually) for a few weeks, and will be pretty much unreachable.

I may (or may not!) read my email a few times but I probably won't respond. :)

- Jack M.

PS - for those who are wondering - yes, the wedding rings were made by a VERY reputable company... although some of their products have been known to have been discarded in the nearest volcano... :)

Poll 1 - The results for the first poll are here...

Voting for the first poll has closed, and I'm very pleased with the results - both in number of people voting, as well as the actual answers provided. I want to thank everyone who took the time to click on the poll. It's only a second of your time but I do read the results - if nothing else it shows me that someone's actually reading this blog!

The question was:
Have you visited Wellington's LOTR locations yet?

And 148 people answered it, with the following results:

64 (43%) - Not yet, but soon!
42 (28%) - Yes, loved it!
24 (16%) - No, and not planning on it.
18 (12%) - Yes, and Jack was my guide.

Apparently the readers here are not just people who have been on my tour then! Of the 148 people, only 24 people have no intention of coming, so the other 84% have either already been here or are planning to in the future! That's awesome!

I must make one small admission - my wife also voted, and yes, I was her guide. In all fairness, she wasn't my wife yet then - in fact I hadn't actually met her until she boarded the tourbus on that fateful morning... ;)

- Jack M.

ANOTHER del Toro book signing session in Wellington!

Guillermo del Toro is making friends in Wellington, and is gracing us with a SECOND autograph session for his new book, The Strain.

This one's not at the Weta Cave though, so if you couldn't get your freezing cold body out to Miramar last time, you should be able to make this session, as it's in the middle of town, at Unity Books. Check the full details here.

Apparently Guillermo del Toro has a new favourite bookshop now that Dymocks has closed down here. At least, he's been seen there not just once but twice, according to the Wellington Dominion Post newspaper.

The session will be at 6:00pm (sharp!) next week Wednesday July the 8th. If the Weta Cave session is anything to go by, I'd say show up at 5:00pm instead. And expect to be there till 10:00pm!

I do have some extra information though.
At the Weta Cave session the only books available were the paperback version of the new book - this time there will be around 30 copies of the hardback edition available for purchase. I'm not sure if you can reserve them beforehand, but it's worth a try, I guess. The hardback edition is still rare as hens' teeth around New Zealand, so getting a signed edition is possibly the coolest thing you can own until he signs your copy of the Hobbit DVD in a year or two.

Unfortunately I won't be there myself, as I'll be on honeymoon! Of course, if anyone wanted to get me a copy as a wedding present, let me know! :)

- Jack M.