Archive for the ‘Peter Jackson’ Category
The New Zealand Government has released a tranche of email exchanges between Sir Peter Jackson and ministerial officials, which lay bare his frustration over the deal eventually done to ensure The Hobbit was made here.
Earlier this month the Ombudsman ordered the Government to release documents about the deal it struck for the movies. Warner Bros’ New Line unit warned that the ruling jeopardised future film-making in New Zealand.
In a statement Jackson today said he welcomed the release of the documents, which he hoped would end “unfounded conspiracy theories” that a Hollywood studio had been dictating terms to a sovereign government.
[Read More] | [View the documents]
Posted in Director news, Hobbit Movie, MGM, New Line Cinema, Peter Jackson, Studios, The Hobbit, Warner Bros.
Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is leading this years Saturn Awards with nine nominations announced overnight. Nominees include Peter Jackson up for Best Director, Martin Freeman for Best Actor and Ian Mckellen for Best Supporting Actor.
Complete list of nominees:
Best fantasy film:
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN
THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY
LIFE OF PI
SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN
CHRISTIAN BALE, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
DANIEL CRAIG, SKYFALL
MARTIN FREEMAN, THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY
HUGH JACKMAN, LES MISERABLES
JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT, LOOPER
MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY, KILLER JOE
Best supporting actor:
JAVIER BARDEM, SKYFALL
MICHAEL FASSBENDER, PROMETHEUS
CLARK GREGG, THE AVENGERS
JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
SIR IAN MCKELLEN, THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY
CHRISTOPH WALTZ, DJANGO UNCHAINED
WILLIAM FRIEDKIN, KILLER JOE
PETER JACKSON, THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY
RIAN JOHNSON, LOOPER
ANG LEE, LIFE OF PI
CHRISTOPHER NOLAN, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
JOSS WHEDON, THE AVENGERS
Best Production Design:
LIFE OF PI
THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY
LIFE OF PI
THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
Best Costume Design:
THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY
SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN
THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY
TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN, PART 2
Best Visual Effects:
THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY
LIFE OF PI
SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN
The Saturn Awards, is compiled by officials from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films, winners will be announced at a Hollywood ceremony in June (13).
Posted in Crew News, Director news, Events, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Other Events, Peter Jackson, Production, Studios, The Hobbit
Once again it has been a long time since I posted in this series, but what with the run-up to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Adventure and the reaction to it, TheOneRing.net has been a busy place, and now we’re coming up on The One Expected Party on Oscar night! But I’ll delay no longer.
In the first entry I recalled getting the permission to interview the filmmakers and going down to start my work, back in September-October of 2003. The second one dealt with my first interview and tours of the Three Foot Six office building and the Stone Street Studios. Now, more of the facilities I visited.
The Film Unit
My third full day in Wellington was Wednesday, October 1. Melissa Booth called and said I could come to the new Film Unit building to meet Barrie Osborne. He, as I cannot stress often enough, was the one responsible for getting me New Line’s permission to interview the filmmakers for my book. This meeting, though, wouldn’t be for an interview. (I interviewed Barrie twice for the book, first a couple of weeks later and again during my third Wellington visit in December, 2004.) He was driving out to the old Film Unit facility that afternoon to give the people working there, sound mixers, editors, and other post-production crew members, a pep talk.
As most readers know, the race to finish The Return of the King was on by that point, and a lot of people were working long hours. I was told that Barrie often gave these pep talks, and the filmmakers really appreciated them; it was part of what gave the production that feeling of being one big family. I could at least introduce myself to Barrie and ride with him to the Film Unit; the half-hour drives there and back would allow us time to talk about my project. (more…)
Posted in Barrie Osborne, Daniel Falconer, LotR Movies, Models, Other production, Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor, WETA Digital, WETA Workshop
Warner Bros is threatening that the Government’s release of confidential documents about the Hobbit union debate would be a “major disincentive” to future film-making in New Zealand.
The New Zealand Ombudsman has ordered the Government to release documents about the deal it struck to ensure the Hobbit movies were made in the country.
The Government secured the three movies by changing employment laws and beefing up the tax rebate sweetener for the productions, resulting in an additional $25 million in incentives for Warner Bros.
Unions fought the law changes and the Labour Party accused the government of chequebook legislation.
Posted in Hobbit Movie, MGM, New Line Cinema, Peter Jackson, Studios, Warner Bros.
Burbank, CA, February 5, 2013
– From Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson comes “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
,” a production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), arriving on Digital Download on March 12th
and on Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack and 2-Disc DVD Special Edition on March 19th
from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. All disc versions feature UltraVioletÔ and over 130 minutes of bonus content.The first of a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit
, by J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,
” which is nominated for three Academy Awards*, is an epic adventure that immerses audiences once again in the fantastical world of Middle-earth. The March 19th
home entertainment release will be followed by an Extended Edition in time for the holidays.
Posted in Blu-Ray, Director news, DVDs, Hobbit Movie, Merchandise, MGM, New Line Cinema, Peter Jackson, Studios, The Hobbit, Warner Bros.
In addition, Peter Jackson will host a live first look at “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,”
the second film in The Hobbit
on Sunday, March 24th
at 3:00PM Eastern/Noon Pacific. Content will be streamed live and an edited version will be archived on the Trilogy’s official website. Access to the live event will be limited to holders of an UltraViolet code available by purchasing “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack or 2-Disc Special Edition DVD. Select digital retailers will issue access codes upon purchase of the film. Visit www.thehobbit.com/sneak
for more information.
The news was horrific. Essentially The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was dead on arrival and if not a box office failure at least a disappointment and this on top of less-than-stellar reviews. Maybe Peter Jackson was lost in Middle-earth. Maybe the public and critics were just tired of adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien. Maybe LOTR was lightning in a bottle. Turns out though rumors of the demise of The Hobbit were greatly exaggerated.
I will be dismissed as a website-contributing fanboy of course. I couldn’t possibly have a love for fantasy literature and Tolkien and an appreciation for the fantastic in cinema and still be objective. So decide for yourself if my viewpoint is skewed, but I think I am being objective, I am certainly not the only writer around who has his bare bias showing. It seems clear that some writers were rooting for and proclaiming failure prematurely.
None of this would matter except that bad buzz around a film does affect the film’s earnings. Bad reviews (more on that later) and then bad performance likely convinces casual viewers to stay away. These aren’t presented as opinions but as news with expert analysis.
Don’t believe me about the doom and gloom? I have some samples below:
Weekend Report: ‘Hobbit’ Plummets, Holds Off Slew of Newcomers
“Even though it did hold on to the top spot, though, The Hobbit’s performance was underwhelming. The Peter Jackson-directed Lord of the Rings prequel plummeted 57 percent to an estimated $36.7 million for a new total of $149.9 million.”
From: The Numbers.com
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey didn’t hold on as well as predicted falling 56% according to studio estimates to $36.94 million over the weekend for a total of $150.10 million after two. It should get to $250 million in the end, which is a solid number given the film’s production budget. However, it’s not a monster number, and many thought it would be a monster hit. Explaining why this happened will take some time, but the weaker than expected reviews is a good place to start. Another possible reason is just too much hype.”
Another possible explanation is that you, Mr. Writer, were wrong.
The story sounds pretty reasonable, right? Except it isn’t and the sites where they originated, should know better. Folks on message boards were following his lead though, dubbing the film “The Flobbit” or “The Floppit” due to its perceived and inaccurate failures.
Remember those midnight screenings in mid-December that gave The Hobbit the largest ever December opening? That was never going to be duplicated the following weekend. But numbers are numbers right? Well yes, but numbers in perspective are even better numbers.
So Hobbit dropped 56% on the weekend. A plummet? Not when compared to the other top movies of the year. The Avengers dropped 50% and became the biggest blockbuster ever, The Dark Knight Rises dropped 61% (amidst a horrible shooting) The Hunger Games 61%, Skyfall 53% and the last Twilight film 69%. Those are currently the biggest films of 2012 financially. While “plummet” might be dictionary accurate, it is just exactly what could have been expected, especially in the busiest shopping weekend of the year. And for the record, to fully disclose, I liked all of those films save one, so I am not rooting against films financially. So yes, all the box office websites and film news reports should know better but mostly reported that it was disaster for The Hobbit. False.
There is another factor, just as important at work here. It was pre-Christmas weekend and movies perform much differently during that season. Films that open on the holiday work differently than films that open on traditional Fridays. Movie-business wisdom suggests, with a term called “multiples” that a film might make two or three times its opening weekend for the life of the movie. Christmas movies are “guaranteed” to make four times their opening and can hope for five or six times that number. The weekend before a Christmas-Eve Monday was way down at the box office for obvious reasons: People were busy getting ready for the holiday. Grocery stores and malls were packed, megaplexes suffered. Again, box office tracking websites should know better.
Here are some other samples including the first one from the guy who gets on CNN and lots of other places to be the “box office expert” talking head and advertises that widely. Again, I expect experts to know better and he was defending its numbers, call the box office “tough” a little prematurely.
‘The Hobbit’ and Its Tough Box Office Journey
“Despite a record-breaking opening, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey experienced a significant 57% drop off in its second week, bringing in an estimated $36.7 million, with an $8,952 per screen average. This brings The Hobbit’s ten-day gross to $149.9 million, tracking about 8% behind The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’s ten-day gross.”
Box office update: ‘The Hobbit’ plummets to $10.2M on Friday
“Sure, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey set a December record last weekend when it opened with $84.5 million, but after eight days in theaters, it’s now clear that the Lord of the Rings prequel is running well behind the final LOTR film, The Return of the King, which earned $377.8 in 2003 — without 3D and IMAX surcharges.
“The Hobbit dropped by a huge 73 percent from its first Friday to $10.2 million yesterday, which puts it on pace for a $33 million weekend . . . but The Hobbit is falling much faster, and it will need to hold up remarkably well over the holiday to have a shot at $300 million domestically.”
After 21 days in release the film will sit at $250+ million domestically with two thirds of its audience being from non-U.S. outlets with $514 million, bringing the total to comfortably over $760 million in three weeks.
Disaster averted, $300 million in sight.
After the second weekend and its reports of plummeting, the film finished in third place on Christmas to two movies with Christmas openings: Les Miserables and Django Unchained. More disaster reported. The Hobbit was again “fading fast” and destined to not only wind up a disappointment, but would it force the studios to force Jackson to make shorter films?
Ho-hum. By the weekend, The Hobbit was back on top winning its third weekend in a row while those two films came down off their debut highs. In full disclosure, I liked both of those films a lot too which brings us to another problem.
The reporting of box office totals comes full of Movie X vs. Movie Y drama but is rather ridiculous. Skyfall just passed the $1 billion mark, the 14th film ever to do so worldwide, but it didn’t “win” a chain of incredible weekends. It was an entertaining film with beautiful cinematography that people (including Hobbit viewers) liked and told friends about. I know the competition aspect of movie vs. movie is just too hard to pass up, but it doesn’t work and isn’t fair but it is effective at creating false drama and gets considerable clicks. I don’t attend one movie and see it as a victory over another film I didn’t see. Make all good movies, we will see them all.
While I am complaining, writers also should stop calling The Hobbit part of the LOTR series because it isn’t, and as the Tough Hobbit Journey story above wisely pointed out, it should be thought of as its own series. The Hobbit is also not a prequel, invented after-the-fact, to make more story or explain anything. It stands on its own and did so before there was a LOTR and was written first. Preaching to the choir here, I know.
Here are some examples:
“However, The Hobbit did suffer the biggest second weekend drop (57%) of any movie based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth series.” - IGN
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey once again dominated the overseas box office this weekend, though its noticeable drop suggests it doesn’t have any chance of it matching Return of the King in the long run.
“The Hobbit’s overseas total reached $288.5 million, and worldwide is now at $438.6 million. While it will hold well through the end of the year, it does now seem certain that the movie will fall well short of $1 billion worldwide.” - BoxOfficeMojo
So really? It isn’t Return of the King? Rather than report The Hobbit is making serious bank, despite your dire predictions, and it performed well though the holidays, the story is its failure to make $1 billion? And, if that were the point, with “only” $250 million to go to reach that number, when is it no longer “well short” and are we sure that will not happen? It is destined to have much less staying power than, say, Skyfall? Whatever the right and wrong of it all, I think the $600 million invested by movie studios in a product that has a three-year-yield window, would be pretty happy with a $750+ million earned in 21 days.
Next week we will be treated to tales and headlines of how the latest Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie “slays the competition” at the box office, unless it doesn’t finish first and then we can read how it was slain by other films, perhaps including The Hobbit.
The third film will be a test of Thorin’s Oakenshield’s character.
None of this really matters for those who simply like the movie. Once the film is on safe financial footing, and the studio is happy to let Jackson do his thing twice more, who cares? Well I do for one. Accuracy is always important. Not shorthanded, easy reporting, but actual accuracy. That comes from my background as a journalist and as a film aficionado. From the same place comes my belief that word choices, like “plummeted” do matter. If you use that in a headline (and writers of stories often do not write headlines) make sure it really means that and it is accurate and isn’t just there to grab extra clicks.
TheOneRing.net and I don’t make any extra money from The Hobbit since we make none at all to begin with. I really hope all good films always find an audience and empower filmmakers to tell stories. (Speaking of movie goers, another topic for another day is my belief that critics are completely, wildly out of touch with film audiences but nobody needs to hear that rant – or let me know if you do.) But permit me one final point, that is directed very squarely at Warner Bros., MGM and New Line and the production company behind The Hobbit.
Dear studios and Team Jackson:
Posted in Hobbit Book, Hobbit Movie, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, MGM, New Line Cinema, Peter Jackson, Studios, The Hobbit, Warner Bros.
Please do the following if you want to make more money and at the same time want to throw fans a bone:
Send, to be added to digital copies of your digital movie, a teaser trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. People want to watch your movie again and again but reward them for repeat viewings with some idea of what is in store next December. Tack it on after the credits so folks can enjoy the film, sit through the credits and then thrill with the promise of things to come. You managed it almost a decade ago with the LOTR films, so no excuses. If you have a will, you can do it again and it would win a lot of hearts and minds.
For readers of The Hobbit, which became an almost overnight classic following its 1937 debut, the new movie may elicit some puzzlement. Seemingly extraneous flourishes clog up what many remember as a simple fairy tale, and random characters appear at every twist and turn throughout Middle Earth.
Yet those fans who went on to immerse themselves in J.R.R. Tolkien’s wider lore will find inspiration. For the most part, director Peter Jackson does not exercise an extra heaping of artistic license. Rather, Jackson—reportedly something of a nerd himself—borrows from the larger Tolkien literature to create a rich Hobbit tableau.
“Jackson knows the lore pretty well and wanted to bring that larger material in there wherever he could,” said Michael Drout, an English professor at Wheaton College who founded the academic journal Tolkien Studies and edited the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia. It’s this so-called textuality—or texts behind texts behind other texts—that lends Tolkien’s work the air of reality, he said, and which Jackson seeks to capture in his films.
Jackson isn’t free to tap into any detail he wants from Tolkien’s wider works, however. “He had a very difficult task in that the movie rights extend only to The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings,” said John Rateliff, an independent Tolkien scholar and author of The History of the Hobbit. “He’s well aware that there’s a great deal more material set in that world, but contractually not allowed to use that material in the movies.”
Posted in Christopher Tolkien, Hobbit Book, Hobbit Movie, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, LotR Books, Other Tolkien books, Peter Jackson, Silmarillion, The Hobbit, Tolkien, Tolkien Estate
Philippa Boyens. Photo: KENT BLECHYNDEN/Fairfax NZ
At the New York Premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Vulture spoke to Philippa Boyens and Peter Jackson about the absence of Gandalf’s backstory from the film. In particular, they delved into why there’s no insight into why Gandalf assists the Dwarf company, and how he obtained the map and key of Thrain. Read on below the cut for some spoilery answers that hint at what we can anticipate for The Desolation of Smaug. (more…)
Posted in Hobbit Movie, Ian McKellen, Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens, The Hobbit
It’s no small feat to make the wizard Gandalf appear larger than his dwarf and hobbit friends. Over at Popular Mechanics, Eric Vespe explains how the filmmakers pulled off the illusion in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
In the past, director Peter Jackson had to shoot characters of different sizes at different times and piece the scenes together in postproduction. “There was no way to direct the whole scene at once, no opportunity to finesse performances,” says motion-control supervisor Alex Funke. With the new system, Jackson watched scenes from The Hobbit unfold in real time.
Posted in Hobbit Movie, Peter Jackson, Production
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
The Hobbit would be better subtitled ‘Great Expectations’ rather than ‘An Unexpected Journey’, given the spectacular triple-act it follows, and the accumulated anticipation in the near decade since the Oscar-sweeping The Return of the King
. This presents a problem for judging the film, for we are none of us objective. Comparisons with the original trilogy are inevitable, and thus before we even look at the intrinsic merits of the latest addition to Jackson’s Middle-earth adaptations, we need to be aware of how much we take for granted in coming to this new trilogy, and thus how our critical faculties are skewed. (more…)
Posted in Characters, Hobbit Book, Hobbit Movie, Peter Jackson, The Hobbit
Forbes.com: My wife and I took most of our kids to the first showing of The Hobbit at our local theater Friday morning. All but one of us was already a fanatically patriotic citizen of the Shire long before this movie, and all of us enjoyed the film quite a bit. This will not be the case for every Tolkien fan: I suspect the purists will be upset by the ways in which the films deviate from the book.
I, however, am not a purist. The Hobbit is a nearly perfect book from a literary point of view. That is no surprise, given the fact that it comes from one of the greatest literary minds of the 20th Century. But, books and films are different types of story-telling vessels and Peter Jackson was right in adapting the story to the newer medium. And he did so as someone who truly loved the original, who respected his source material, and who as a general rule carved it with the grain and not against it in his attempt to shape it into the needs of a big budget film trilogy.
Posted in Director news, Hobbit Book, Hobbit Movie, Lord of the Rings, Peter Jackson, The Hobbit
Last week the filmmakers and cast of The Hobbit took over the Waldorf Astoria in New York to talk about the much-expected film. For your enjoyment, here is a selection of questions and answers from the conversation with Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens and Senior Visual Effects Supervisor Joe Letteri.[Portuguese Translation]
On casting Martin Freeman:
Peter Jackson: Martin was the only person we ever wanted for that role. And that was before we ever really met Martin – we knew him from “The Office” and “Hitchhikers Guide” and we just felt he had qualities that would be perfect for Bilbo. That essential kind of fussy, English, slightly repressed quality. He’s a dramatic actor, he’s not a comedian, but he’s a dramatic actor who has a very rare comedic skill.
… With the delays that happened, we couldn’t offer the role to anybody contractually. And by the time we were able to offer Martin the role, he had committed to the “Sherlock” TV series. And he shot the first season, but the second season of “Sherlock” was going to fall right into the middle of our shoot so he said “Listen, I can’t do it.” So we were in trouble. I was really panicking, we all were. … We literally couldn’t think of anyone else we thought would be as good as Martin.
I was having sleepless nights. We were probably about six weeks away from the beginning of the shoot and still hadn’t settled on anyone else. I was tormenting myself by watching “Sherlock” on an iPad at 4 o’clock in the morning. The second episode of the first season had just come out in iTunes and I downloaded it – because I love the show – and I was sitting there looking at Martin and thinking “there is nobody better, this is insane.” When I got up that morning I called Martin’s agent in London and I asked if we could find a way to accommodate Martin’s schedule would Martin be prepared to still come down to New Zealand to do Bilbo? And fortunately the answer was yes, he’d love that.
On the reasoning behind three movies:
Philippa: If we hadn’t made the “Lord of the Rings first, if this wasn’t set against that, this probably would have been a very different story. But we had. The Gandalf turning up in these films was the Gandalf portrayed in “Lord of the Rings,” but if we wanted to tell that part of Gandalf’s story, we got to bring in people as Saruman and the brilliant Cate Blanchett coming back as Galadriel.
So, as soon as we knew we would tell that part of the tale, what happens when Gandalf disappears – because we know what happens when Gandalf disappears because Professor Tolkien kept writing the Hobbit – and we made that decision to tell that part of the tale, you start to draw in that bigger mythology that this is set against.
Also, when we began to go in there… it’s so easy to forget the depth that is in the story telling and how dark this children’s book turns at the end. It doesn’t end with Smaug, when it should end, when any normal children’s story ends, and kids love it. I know I loved it when I read it, because it was unusual, it took you further.
There were strong elements of tragedy in there, revolving around a particular character, Thorin. They’re extraordinary and when you go into the appendices you realize how extraordinary and what has been placed on him.
It wasn’t hard to see what’s in there. One of the things that’s in there is greed. So as soon as you start taking on the notion of “how much wealth is too much wealth?” and “how much gold is too much gold? “ Something that is literally a sickness of the mind, a sickness of too much wealth.
The other thing is, you start to work with great actors, and great actors come to you because of the material. If you give them slight material you’re just not going to get them and we wanted to write for some of these incredible actors that we had.
On the lack of female characters in “The Hobbit”:
Philippa: You do feel the weight of it, the lack of feminine energy. And it’s interesting because Professor Tolkien actually wrote brilliantly for women. He had a real respect for women. The most powerful being in Middle Earth at this time as he wrote was Galadriel. And so, we have her story as it develops, as he wrote it. It informs “The Hobbit” – it’s actually quite powerful and it’s going to get good for the girls, I think.
On the addition of Galadriel and material from the appendices:
Peter: It goes back to the appendices. We can adapt “The Hobbit” and we can take these appendices, which appear in “Return of the King,” which has material I think he was developing as an expanded version of “The Hobbit.”
He wrote “The Hobbit” in 1937 and then the “Lord of the Rings” came out in the 1950s – which was supposedly supposed to be a sequel to “The Hobbit” but obviously developed and expanded into something much much more apocalyptic and the tone was different.
So I think he was intending to go back and revise “The Hobbit” or write a companion novel that was going to sort of tie it all together. He never did publish that book or even finish it, but a lot of the material his son published in the back of “Return of the King.”
So they talk about the White Council and the Necromancer, and she’s part of the White Council and they refer to the attack on Dol Guldur, and it’s that type of plot that we’re developing. So, it’s still part of the Tolkien myth.
On reality and fantasy films:
Peter: The levels of detail in the movie are similar to “Lord of the Rings.” With the high definition cameras you see more, so you may have the sense of more detail but fortunately the team that we have in New Zealand, WETA Workshop, who design a lot of the makeup and effects, and our wardrobe department, our art department – we’ve always wanted to put a lot of detail, and a lot of details that never get seen by the cameras.
To me, fantasy should be as real as possible. I don’t subscribe to the notion that because it’s fantastical it should be unrealistic. I think you have to have a sense of belief in the world that you’re going into, and the levels of detail are very important.
On why he originally chose not to direct, but then stepping back into role:
Peter: I guess I thought I wouldn’t enjoy it is the truth, because I thought I would be competing against myself to some degree ,and that it would be interesting to have another director. …. Guillermo Del Toro was involved for a while, for over a year probably, but after he left because of the delays, it was still another six months or so before we had a green light and during that length of time I just thought, well I am actually enjoying this a lot more.
I came to realize there’s a lot of charm and humor in “The Hobbit” that the “Lord of the Rings” didn’t have. And I thought that returning to Middle Earth with a entirely different story and a different tone – I thought “this is not the Lord of the Rings” and I’m not going to try to make another film that’s exactly like that. This gives me an opportunity to do something a little different. … and the first day of shooting I was incredibly happy I was there. It was a great deal of fun to shoot.
On added or expanded scenes:
Peter: Well, one expanded, the stone giants – that’s like a paragraph in the book when they’re going through the Misty Mountains and Tolkien refers to a thunderstorm created by this fight between giants. He doesn’t really dwell on it particularly, so those sorts of things were fun, a visual scene out of the book that we could develop and expand on. So, we did sort of expand it … the Goblin tunnels?
Philippa: I love Azog, Azog the Defiler. Because we just loved that name and he is a character that we just loved that back story and thought we can’t have him be dead, we’re going to keep him alive. So we enjoyed that… bringing him back. And I think we do that quite powerfully, he’s got a good journey to go on.
On making connections between “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings”
Peter: This is what made the film enjoyable for me, being able to connect little pieces from “Lord of the Rings” to “The Hobbit.” There was a scene in the “Fellowship of the Ring” when they’re stuck in the crossroads in Moria, and there’s a quiet moment between Gandalf and Frodo… and he’s talking about the events in “The Hobbit,” that the pity of Bilbo rules the fate of us all. Meaning that Bilbo had a chance to kill Gollum but he didn’t. And the fact that he didn’t is now directing the story, it’s now created the story of the “Lord of the Rings” – for good or for bad. So it was really interesting to twelve years after we shot that scene originally to come back and actually show the moment where Bilbo stays his hand.
And also, the reason why he doesn’t kill Gollum at that stage when he’s got the opportunity, when he’s invisible and standing over Gollum … and Gandalf had said to him that true courage is deciding when not to kill rather than to kill.
So, completing those little loops and circles was one of the really interesting things whilst you’re dealing with a different story, a different tone. And if we had shot the films in a different order, we might not have been able to do that as effectively. Because really, once these movies are done and have had their theatrical life, we’re really looking at a six movie set – which is the way it will exist from that point on. And so I’m very conscious and wanting to make it feel like an organic story with synergy.
It wouldn’t have been that easy if we’d shot “The Hobbit” first, because it is such a different tone of a book. We might have just leapt into that much more fairy-tale tone, which would have made the “Lord of the Rings” a much more difficult adaptation in a way, because it would have been hard for the two to talk to each other.
On the shift in Thorin’s character from bombastic to warrior, and the casting of Richard Armitage:
Philippa: That’s really simple actually. When we were writing it we understood – writing backwards – how much the audience needs to care about this character. In a way it’s almost his story – a lot of it is his story. When we were tackling this character – because he’s much older in the book – it becomes very hard to invest in a character that you want to reclaim a homeland and rebuild a city when he’s in his eighties.
So when we were looking, when we began the casting process, we were looking between 45, 55. Someone who had life left in him, who could be that heroic character, who could be a great fighter. Again, harder to do with a character who, as Professor Tolkien wrote him, was an old warrior.
So we made that decision that we were going to go younger, and then from that point in terms of Richard Armitage, he was the youngest actor to audition for that role. It had nothing to do with the fact that he is gorgeous (laughs), it had to do with the fact that he did a phenomenal audition and the notion that you had this dark conflicted character, but was also quite grunty, Northern, English – like a dwarf. Strangely enough, he’s six foot four, but he’s still a dwarf. He had that whole thing of being miner, of that grittiness, gruntiness, but who probably plays a good game of rugby, which felt as Professor Tolkien described the dwarves.
On 3D and the approach to visual effects and directing
Peter: It didn’t change my style of directing, I didn’t want it to. And that was the beauty. I didn’t want to convert it, we wanted to shoot it in 3D. I think that is much more realistic. Fortunately we had great support from the companies who worked with us (on the cameras and rigs) and they made the equipment as light and as small as they possibly could. The rigs were originally made in steel, yet they made them for us out of carbon fiber so that we could put them on steady cams and use hand held cameras. Because I really wanted to be the same filmmaker going back into Middle Earth. I didn’t want to, because it was 3D, to shoot it in a different style.
I don’t believe in the concept that 3D should be shot differently. Every director has his own style, sure, but I don’t think that any of that is an issue with 3D. For me it was important to not even worry about 3D and I didn’t, I didn’t even think about it half the time. I was just directing as I would normally do and the cameras could do what they normally do. For me it was a comfortable experience.
Joe: There’s one case where it did matter, though. Back with the “Lord of the Rings,” we could do force-perspective tricks – bring Gandalf closer to the camera and put Frodo farther away, and one could look bigger and one could look smaller. When you put the glasses on you realize how far apart they are, that trick no longer works.
So we came up with this idea – especially because we wanted to keep the cameras moving – to actually synchronize two cameras together on two separate stages. So Gandalf was on one stage, the dwarves on another stage and Peter can see them both in his monitor together and direct both of them. But they both had to keep in their heads where the other virtual person was going to be that was wandering through Bag End.
You’ll see in the film, if you haven’t seen already, that there’s a minute-long shot of them walking through each other and handing things off – that was all done by the actors for the large part, just having to keep in their heads where each other was in this very cool space.
On converting “Lord of the Rings” to 3D
Peter: It’s not really a question for me because it’s a studio issue because they would have to pay for it and it’s expensive. So, I’d be happy to do it if they decide, but that’s really a marketplace thing. I think the whole idea of dimensioning older films is something that the studios are still unsure of. I know that Jim did it on “Titanic’ and it was very successful, and then George Lucas did it with “Star Wars” and it was not so successful financially.
So, I think the studios are not quite sure at the moment where that market is going to finally land. I guess as time goes on and 3D establishes itself more in people’s homes and the cost of conversion comes down, I think things have to move on but at the moment it’s not being discussed.
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