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At 11am on June 21 in Wellington as in the rest of the world, the Fifth book of Harry Potter is out: in the very same day Frodo, protected by Sam, was fighting for his life in the enormous spider Shelob’s lair, in an ambush setup by Gollum, during the traditional Pick-ups. Harry Potter was, at least in the cinema, the best rival for The Lord Of The Rings, at least until the second installment gained less then the first one. The opposite was true for The Two Towers, which overcame FotR by many millions of dollars. If it will run all as anticipated, The Return Of The King, the last installment, should gain more than a billion dollars overseas.

It’s been seven years that Peter Jackson has worked on what he always considered a whole, one movie, divided in three parts, exactly like Tolkien’s novels, divided in three books by the editor. And it’s been seven years that he say he lives his personal ‘marmot’s day’, that is to live the same day every day, as in the 1993 Bill Murray movie ‘Groundhog Day’. I.e., today, June 22, he woke up at 5am, put on his very famous shorts, began the shooting at 8am, and, in spite of the rain, moved from a set to another, as usual on his red bicycle Challenge model, recognizable by the skull on the handle. The skull is a souvenir from Shelob’s lair, where there are also some dangling, mummified corpses, which are imprisoned in synthetic webs made by an elasticized fiber of boiled-vegetal-oil (220°C!!!).

Frodo and Sam continue to fight her in front of a Blue Screen, because Shelob, female spider, it’s under ‘gestation’ in Weta Digital! During the years she is continuously changed (the movies were shot at the same time in 274 days between 1999 and 2000). At the beginning, she was a little 30-cm model who didn’t frighten anybody. In the end, she will be a 5-meters high monster, destined to frighten first of all Peter Jackson, who loves splatter movies but is arachnophobic (like Tolkien too!). The last model is a NZ spider called Tunnel Web, that is little and innocuous, but was super-sized by the computer! Shelob, who is different from the other spiders of the cinema, will be really fast, but stops in a second to fix her eyes on her prey.

Jackson’s pickups are not re-shootings, but little additions, sometime only a sentence, a glance, looking for a psychological deepening. Jackson says: ‘RotK is the movie that has to justify the other two installments’. He shoots every scene ten times, from multiple angles. He decided this in the very beginning of the production, inserting this ‘vice’ in the production budget of $310 millions. In the end he will exceed 500 hours of film, reducing them to only 10 hours.

Every Friday the troupe organize a raffle with prizes taken from
merchandising, but every month of pick-ups (they will end on July 10) was a long feast. Every time an actor came back home, they had a party and gifts. It’s happened with Arwen (Liv Tyler), Eowyn (Miranda Otto), Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Gandalf (Ian McKellen). The 4 hobbits have to do another week, while Saruman (Christopher Lee) has not arrived yet. It’s a soft atmosphere, like in the end of the movie when most of the characters leave Middle Earth in the Grey Heavens. Elijah Wood, who promised an annual assembly with all the members of the cast and crew, says: ‘Do you know when I could shoot another time the most important movie of my life?’

The RotK is PJ most-liked part of the trilogy. Producer Barrie Osborne
says ‘go to the cinema with tissues!’. Hobbit Merry (Dominic Monaghan), who saw a pre-edited copy of the movie, cried during the whole last 8 minutes. The plot is full of weddings, coronations, ambushes, suicides, betrayal, but also the biggest battle of the history of cinema: 200,000 orcs in Pelennor field! We’ll see a new, sophisticated city (Minas Tirith) and a new race: The Pirates (oriental in origin). Faramir will have his 15 minutes of fame, while a new entry, Denethor (Australian actor John Noble), steward of Gondor, is a Shakespearian-tragic character. We will see him in the longer version of TTT (47 minutes longer!!) which contains three key- scenes: Eowyn’s declaration of love to Aragorn, Aragorn’s declaration of age (87 years old!) and the growth of 10 cm. of Marry and Pippin after drinking an Ent-drink. If we had a ‘The Middle Earth Times’, here we would have the last news:

-World premiere of RotK on December 1

-European premiere on December 10 in Berlin

-Italian premiere in Rome on December 13

After LotR, Peter Jackson is going to direct a remake: King Kong, the most famous gorilla of the planet. It will be a digital creature, but humanized like Gollum: voices speak about the same actor to give life to Kong: Andy Serkis.