25 August 1998
Source: New Zealand News
Middle Earth Comes To New Zealand
Tuesday, 25 August 1998, 11:14 am
Staff Reporter: Greg Meylan
"One Ring to rule them all, One Ring
to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them"
Next year Middle Earths fantastic landscape and peoples, Gandalf, Frodo Baggins, the Dark Riders and all, will be transposed onto our own countryside in a $260 million film by New Zealand filmmaker Peter Jackson.
Jackson told National Radio his morning that after 18 months of negotiation with the US film company Newline Cinema he had the $260 million contract to make J.R.R. Tolkiens classic trilogy Lord Of The Rings into three films.
Jackson says he has been thinking about filming the book for almost four years and that it will be easily his biggest project to date.
He says turning the book, voted the most popular of the century in a worldwide readers survey, into a film is daunting but exciting with the excitement slightly outweighing the terror.
He says New Zealand is an ideal place to make the film and various parts of New Zealand will be used during the film.
"Anyone that has read Lord of the Rings will realise that Tolkien was very obsessive about the landscapes and he paints an incredibly vivid picture that you read and you absorb. You have a very definite sense in your mind about what his world of Middle Earth was like and New Zealand just fits this perfectly."
He estimates over $200 million will enter the New Zealand economy over the course of the filming in New Zealand.
All three books will be filmed over 12 months and the first film, The Fellowship Of The Ring, is expected to be released around Christmas 2000 with the next two films of the trilogy following at roughly four month intervals.
He says making all three at once is not the usual way to make a trilogy and that it took a lot of negotiating to convince the films backers to allow them to be made together.
Jackson says he wanted to do it this way to ensure that all of the films got made. A cartoon version of the book was made in the 1970s but only ever got as far as telling half the story.
The 12 month filming period is about five times longer than it takes to shoot most films and it will be the biggest film ever made in New Zealand.
There will be over 60 speaking roles and thousands of extras, no one has yet been cast but Jackson says they are looking at some famous people for cameo roles and to play some of the older people of Middle Earth.
Casting is expected to be completed by Christmas this year.
The Hobbits, described by Tolkien as between three feet six inches and four feet tall, will be played by full sized people and then shrunk by computer.
Jackson says the talent is in New Zealand in abundance to make the film and that the Government could also help.
"This project more than any other we
need the Government to really help us to make this a great experience
because if the Americans have a good time making this film here
they are going to come back and the Government are going to be
very instrumental in smoothing the way for us."
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