Wednesday, 27 October 2010

The Hobbit WILL be filmed in New Zealand, after all!

On my browser right now are about two dozen links to websites and facebook pages that are reporting that The Hobbit will go ahead in New Zealand. There are some HUGE celebrations around NZ tonight!

If you want to see our Prime Minister John Key's full press conference, take a look at this page on TV3. They have a 5 minute clip including questions time.

TVNZ also has a page for it here. Their video is about 10 minutes long.

And of course, our newspaper collective, had a few words to say on the matter as well.

I understand that the Matterhorn restaurant is the location of an inpromptu party right now. Can't make it myself, but that's mainly because I've been celebrating too much to legally drive there at this stage. :)

Personally, I've avoided talking about the actor's boycott that has taken over this country's news media in the last few weeks, mainly because it was too close to my heart. If the Hobbit hadn't had the go-ahead to be filmed here in New Zealand, I may as well pack up my bags and decide on a new career. Sure, LOTR tourism would still exist, but pretty soon it would stagnate. Pretty much everyone has always assumed (rightly, it turns out) that taking The Hobbit away from New Zealand would amount to lunacy. Frankly, I would have wound down the blog, and gone on with something else less work intensive.

Some of the specific reasons I didn't report on any of it on this blog - it was well reported elsewhere. I usually had no personal angle to add to it. When I did have my own story, I was bound by loyalty to keep things confidential (like the non-unionised actors meeting I attended). If we'd lost the Hobbit, I wanted it to end on a high note ("green light for Hobbit" and "pro-Hobbit rally" for instance), while if we didn't lose it (as it turns out), I don't want three weeks of hatred and spitefulness messing up my blog forever. And let's face it, some pretty awful things were said, and lots of untruths as well.

I'm sure everyone has been reading The One Ring, and perhaps Kristin Thompson's excellent blog The Frodo Franchise as well. Kristin's accurate analysis of everything LOTR/Hobbit related, especially the financial and political side, is always fascinating to read. If you haven't subscribed to her posts, I can highly recommend them.

From here on in, expect the casting rumours, the location rumours, and general film news to be foremost on my mind. The awful uncertainties have finally gone (I hope!), and I can relax a bit and get on with the job of reporting some FUN rumours for a change!

Hope you'll join me!

  - Jack M.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Pro-Hobbit rally in Wellington

I just got back from the pro-Hobbit rally here in Wellington at Civic Square, which was attended by thousands of people. There was a nice positive feeling from the crowd, which was a great change from all the negativity from the last few weeks surrounding the Actors Equity boycott of the Hobbit movie.

There were many famous faces in the crowd - some took a turn at the microphone while others were there simply to support Sir Peter Jackson.

A good turnout from the crowd, too. I estimated around 3000-4000 people or so but I was in the middle of them so didn't get an accurate picture. Let's see what the newspapers and TV reports say about it tonight.

Here's a few photos I took (if you follow me on Twitter you may have already seen some of these - if you don't yet, you probably should consider it).

12:26pm - The first Hobbits have arrived

12:33pm - The crowd is building up. In the foreground are my friend Grant McKenna and my wife Aiko.

12:51pm - Festivities have started - the Maori song Pokarekare Ana is sung, and the first speech is from the newly elected mayor of Wellington, Celia Wade-Brown.

12:54pm - Sir Richard Taylor, head wizard at Weta Workshop, gives a rousing speech, and reads a prepared letter from Sir Peter Jackson.

12:56pm - a partial shot of the crowd

1:02pm - Liz Mullane speaks next. She's the casting director from LOTR, and also for The Hobbit.

1:06pm - A good friend of mine and fellow LOTR tourguide, Ted Guise from Wellington Movie Tours, talked about tourism, and The Hobbit's impact on it.

Unfortunately I missed photographing some of the speakers at this point - one of them was Chris Guide, Ted's brother. Also a number of others - crew members, designers, a producer, technicians, etc. (my apologies to those I missed!).I was a bit too busy spotting faces in the crowd. Although Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh weren't there, I did spot Katie Jackson with some friends. I didn't photograph her - I gather she doesn't like the limelight as much as she used to when she played "cute hobbit child" in Fellowship of the Ring. :)

1:20pm - Next up, a speech from Gino Acevedo, SFX wizard extraordinaire (and incidentally Liz Mullane's partner - they met on the set of LOTR, apparently)

1:22pm - Wait, is that Barry Osborne in the crowd (producer of LOTR, and Matrix as well)?

After Gino's speech, Sir Richard Taylor got up once more to address the crowd. Sir Richard is always a welcome sight - people here adore him. He's one of the most gentle people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting, with the most contagious sense of enthusiasm. The crowd loved him today.

1:29pm - A few balloons of hope are released - maybe Hollywood will see them...

1:43pm - Peter Lyon (sword smith) and Alan Lee (artist/designer) continue to mingle while the crowd disperses.

After the speeches, the microphone was switched off, and people started to drift away, although slowly. There were a lot of groups of people who hadn't caught up with each other for a while, seemingly. Lots of anticipation from different groups eager to get started. TV crews will no doubt have lengthy reports tonight, but it was the individual stories they won't catch. Everywhere I looked I saw hopeful people wanting to get started on this film.

This gathering was truly a show of unity aimed at the Hollywood executives, who are expected in the next few days. Let's hope it was enough.

- Jack

Saturday, 16 October 2010


It's finally official - The Hobbit is going ahead! I've just this minute received a press release from Peter Jackson's office, confirming the details. Rather than summarise like other blogs have done, I'll just post the whole press release here so you can read the whole lot at once...:

For immediate release
Peter Jackson Set to Direct J.R.R Tolkien’s “The Hobbit,” In a Two-Part 3D Production of Extraordinary Scope
 (Los Angeles, October 15, 2010) The two films based on “The Hobbit” are now greenlit and will begin principal photography in February 2011, under the direction of Peter Jackson, it was jointly announced today by Toby Emmerich, President and Chief Operating Officer, New Line Cinema, Alan Horn, President and Chief Operating Officer, Warner Bros. and Steve Cooper, co-Chief Executive Officer of  Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.

“Exploring Tolkien’s Middle-earth goes way beyond a normal film-making experience” Jackson says, "It’s an all-immersive journey into a very special place of imagination, beauty and drama. We’re looking forward to re-entering this wondrous world with Gandalf and Bilbo - and our friends at New Line Cinema, Warner Brothers and MGM”.

“Peter is a filmmaker of incomparable ability; having him return to Middle-earth to produce and direct is a dream come true. A true original, Peter is a gifted story-teller, visionary director and pioneer in film technology,” said Emmerich. “Reuniting with Peter, Fran and Philippa truly makes it feel like we are going ‘there and back again.’”
“There is no human being on the planet as qualified as Peter Jackson to direct these films,” said Horn. “Peter is incredibly talented and has the creative vision and experience to bring this beloved property to life in a way that no other filmmaker could.  And the team of Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens has proven through their work on the 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy that no one is more skilled at transforming Tolkien's written words into a vibrant, living language that makes the audience believe they are not merely visiting Middle-earth, but actually living in it. We couldn’t be more thrilled and look forward to seeing ‘The Hobbit’ take shape under Peter’s stewardship and the team he is putting together.”
"MGM is excited to move forward and add to the successful 'Lord of the Rings' franchise," said Cooper.  "Under Peter's direction, the films will undoubtedly appeal to fans of the original 'LOTR' trilogy and also bring the stories to a new generation of fans."
Jackson, who directed all three “Lord of the Rings” films, will helm the two films back-to-back, telling the story of “The Hobbit” in two parts. Jackson will utilize groundbreaking visual effects and his incomparable story-telling to bring J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel to the big screen. Both Hobbit movies will be filmed in Digital 3-D, using the latest camera and stereo technology to create a high quality, comfortable viewing experience. Jackson also co-wrote the screenplays with Fran Walsh, Phillipa Boyens and Guillermo del Toro.
“The Hobbit” is being co-produced by New Line Cinema and MGM, with New Line managing production, Warner Bros Pictures handling domestic distribution and MGM distributing internationally. Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Carolynne Cunningham are producing the films, with Phillipa Boyens as co-producer and Ken Kamins as executive producer.
The Oscar-winning, critically acclaimed LOTR trilogy grossed nearly $3 billion worldwide at the box office. In 2003, “Return of the King” swept the Academy Awards, winning all of the 11 categories in which it was nominated, including Best Picture – the first ever Best Picture win for a fantasy film. The trilogy’s production was also unprecedented at the time.


That is the best news possible! The original dream-team is reassembling from the top down - apart  from Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyens as script-writers and (co/exec) producers, Carolynne Cunningham and Ken Kamins are also back at the top.

At this stage I'm not going to quibble about the 3D thing - I'm just so happy it's actually going ahead!
I'm sure there will be a 2D version for those of us who prefer storytelling over gimmicks.

Now all we need is the actors unions to strike a deal, and we can begin! Let's hope it'll still be in NZ...