LOTR - Peter Jackson is to make a $264 million trilogy based on J R R Tolkien's fantasy classic


Last Update: 16 June 2000


Undated article

Source: Unnamed Wellington, NZ newspaper

Wellington film director Peter Jackson is to make a $264
million trilogy based on J R R Tolkien's fantasy classic
Lord Of The Rings. The project, believed to be the
biggest cinema production ever undertaken in the
Southern Hemisphere, was announced today.

Half of the filming for the trilogy will be in Wellington.
The film will require 15,000 extras and is expected to
pump $200 million into the New Zealand economy,
co-producer Tim Sanders said. Jackson said he did not
believe the films could be made in the US because the
project would be too expensive.

"It's only affordable because of New Zealand expertise
and skills," said Jackson, whose previous films include
the Oscar-nominated Heavenly Creatures and The
Frighteners, made in New Zealand with Hollywood
money.

Mr Sanders said the financial spinoffs for Wellington
would be enormous. "We will be offering employment for
hundreds of people, we'll be utilising service industries
and facilities here in Wellington. "We will be
accommodating people from out of town, flying them,
renting cars, feeding them, paying them wages that they
will spend here. And by and large, doing that in the
confines of Peter's studio complex. So we will be out of
sight but contributing to the economy." "I can't think of
anything this big that has been done outside of the UK or
Hollywood."

Mr Sanders said the production headquarters would be
based at Jackson's new Stone St complex and his
Camperdown studio complex, both in Miramar. Jackson
said the films would be shot half in the studio and half on
location. Filming would be done entirely within New
Zealand, he said. Casting would be done later this year
and at least 50 of the 65 speaking roles in the cast, and
almost all of the film crew, would be New Zealanders.

Jackson said the three films would be made for US
company New Line Cinema. They would be co-written
and co-produced with partner Fran Walsh, under his
Wingnut Films banner. Executive producer would be
Saul Zaentz, whose films include The English Patient,
Amadeus and One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest.
Jackson said the project was "like the holy grail of
cinema".

"It's a time when the technology now allows us to tell this
story. "This is one of the most widely loved books of all
time, so it is quite daunting," Jackson said. "The only
thing I can do is make the version of the Lord Of The
Rings I would like to see. I'm a huge admirer of the
books and think it could make a great sequence of
movies. Somewhere over the next two years, I've got to
find those great movies and shoot them."

Principal photography would take about a year, with 18
months set aside for post-production, he said. Staff at
Miramar-based Weta Digital special effects firm had
already been working for a year, developing the
technology for the many special effects the film would
require to bring the fantasy world of Middle Earth to
life.

"Something I'm hoping to achieve is, rather than have
the film look like we went out in New Zealand and shot
on location, is that it looks we went out to Middle Earth
and shot on location. "I want to give it a sense of reality,
so it doesn't look like a fantasy picture postcard, but a
real place that has a magic and a special quality to it."

The first of the three films, The Fellowship Of The Ring,
is due to be released at Christmas time in 2000. The
sequels, The Two Towers and The Return Of The King,
would be released either four or six months apart.


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