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Q&A: Peter Jackson On His Middle Earth Exit, How The Beatles And Stanley Kubrick Nearly Did LOTR, And A Disguise That Let Him Haunt Comic-Con

Mike Fleming

Q&A: Peter Jackson On His Middle Earth Exit, How The Beatles And Stanley Kubrick Nearly Did LOTR, And A Disguise That Let Him Haunt Comic-ConPeter Jackson is coming to the end of a stay in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth that has dominated a quarter of the 53-year-old director’s life, right into middle age. The result: three Lord Of The Rings films and two installments of The Hobbit that have grossed $4.89 billion in worldwide box office.

By the time The Battle Of The Five Armies, the finale to The Hobbit trilogy, plays out, Jackson’s six films may reach $6 billion, and better the current hardware haul of 17 Oscars including Best Picture for Return Of The King, and 35 other noms. Unless James Cameron has something to say about it with his new Avatar trilogy, we may never see anything again in our lives to match Jackson’s cinematic accomplishment, all done with the same creative team.

If he’s feeling the weight of that, he wore it well at Comic-Con. Mostly, he battled jet lag after the long trip to San Diego from New Zealand, where the last film waits for him to finish. He’s tired enough when I enter his hotel room that he suggests I get in bed next to where he’s resting. Then he thinks better, unsure he can stay awake unless upright. I tell him I had the same problem the night before at a very funny live Chris Hardwick-hosted game show my son was desperate to see, only to nudge me again and again for snoring too loud. Our chat started with middle-age sleep apnea and moved to Middle Earth, how close The Beatles came to doing The Lord Of The Rings with Stanley Kubrick, and how Jackson will handle leaving Middle Earth, a place he almost didn’t get to visit at all.

JACKSON: So you almost ruined your son’s time by snoring? I once flew coach class from New Zealand to London, and my friends informed me they’d gotten a ticket for the theater at the West End stage. My friend had to elbow me because not only could they see me from the stage, they could probably hear me as well. When I worked as a newspaper photo engraver in the only job I ever had, many years ago, I’d get the train home to Pukerua Bay where I was staying with my parents. An hour ride, 16 stops and almost always I’d have automatic wake-up, seconds before we pulled into my station. Travel makes you tired more than anything, and Friday was my daughter’s 18th birthday and we celebrated here.

indexDEADLINE: One of those tiny gorgeous kids we watched grow up in glimpses during Lord Of The Rings films?
JACKSON: She was 3 when we made The Fellowship Of The Ring. Katie and Elijah Wood were talking today and they figured out she was 3 when he first met her. She’s 18. Kids, more than anything in life, chart time for us.

DEADLINE: Movies and sports do it, too. It’s easy to be cynical, but I am so charmed by these Comic-Con people and how the proceedings bring out the child versions of themselves. Total lack of cynicism. Do you get to appreciate that still?
JACKSON: There’s a certain reality to me going out now. I’d get six paces, no further, and it would be selfies, and nothing else. In the old days, people asked you to sign something, and half would be too nervous to ask. Now, there’s an aggression to it, like they want you as a trophy on their web page. It’s a social coup to nail you on their cell phone. It changed everything. I get six paces and then can’t walk another. But I went anyway, yesterday, found a way to walk all the way around the convention center.

DEADLINE: How did you manage that?
JACKSON: Oh, I got myself a secret identity. I became the Evil Jester. You can look at the photos on my Facebook page. Read More »

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Bart & Fleming: On Jeff Blake, Comic-Con And Chasing Moviegoers In Digital World

By and | Sunday July 27, 2014 @ 10:14am PDT

Bart & Fleming: On Jeff Blake, Comic-Con And Chasing Moviegoers In Digital WorldFlemingBartColumn_badge__140510005503Peter Bart and Mike Fleming Jr. worked together for two decades at Daily Variety. In this weekly Sunday column, two old friends get together and grind their axes on the movie business.

Bart: You’ve been hanging at the epicenter of pitchdom all week at San Diego Comic-Con so you have watched the masters at work (also the loser geeks). But my thoughts this week were focused on a different generation of marketing mavens — those of Jeff Blake’s generation. Blake was “let go” this week after serving as Sony’s king of marketing and distribution for a couple of decades. Another of his generation, Dan Fellman of Warners, also is set for the sidelines. These were not the Comic-Con types — they were thoughtful pros who knew how to set strategy, pick dates — and tactfully tell filmmakers when their movies were dead on arrival. They didn’t bulls*** about social marketing like their young cohorts. One studio chief told me recently that all social marketing represents is a road map for spending less money while still failing to find an audience. The Comic-Con-crowd would likely disagree.

comic-conFleming: This is the movie business in Moneyball mode. We are seeing a profound change of the studio guard as they figure out how to tap a completely new generation that’s easily distracted by video games, social media and TV binge watching. Social media allows them to … Read More »

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Comic-Con: ‘Hobbit’ Teaser Tantalizes As Peter Jackson Mulls Even More Extended ‘Lord Of The Rings’

By | Saturday July 26, 2014 @ 2:00pm PDT

Comic-Con: ‘Hobbit’ Teaser Tantalizes As Peter Jackson Mulls Even More Extended ‘Lord Of The Rings’There are tears ahead in Peter Jackson‘s third and final Hobbit flick, The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies. “There’s a lot of sadness and tragedy,” he told the Comic-Con crowd. “It’s always great when you can kill off some main characters.” The good news for Lord Of The Rings and Hobbit fans? There’s more footage Jackson might pack into a new extended version of his LOTR franchise.

“There are a few Legendary Pictures Preview And Panel - Comic-Con International 2014scenes that haven’t been seen from Lord Of The Rings, but not many. We might try to put them back in,” he said, although he said obstacles will make it difficult to get to his seven million feet of footage locked away in a WB vault. “It’s a big logistical thing which haven’t wrapped our heads around. But if there’s enough interest…”

Jackson and his Hobbit cast return this December with Battle Of The Five Armies, which sees the Hobbit films move toward more somber territory in alignment with the LOTR pics. “It’s not as comical as the first Hobbit movie and they’re progressively getting to tone of Fellowship Of The Ring,” said Jackson. He’s still in production on the pic’s CG-heavy war action sequences but brought a stirring, battle-heavy teaser that played twice for the Comic-Con crowd.
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Peter Jackson Retitles ‘Hobbit’ Finale To ‘The Battle Of The Five Armies’

Mike Fleming

hobbitjacksonOn his Facebook page, Peter Jackson revealed that he has retitled the final installment of The Hobbit, which he had originally titled There And Back Again. All I can say is that after being initially skeptical when Jackson revealed he was turning the single J.R.R. Tolkien book and some appendices into a full trilogy, the second film was so strong after a whimsical first effort that I cannot wait to see the conclusion of this massive tale, and that he was right to stretch it out. The new title certainly conveys more urgency.

Here is Jackson’s missive:

“Our journey to make The Hobbit Trilogy has been in some ways like Bilbo’s own, with hidden paths revealing their secrets to us as we’ve gone along. “There and Back Again” felt like the right name for the second of a two film telling of the quest to reclaim Erebor, when Bilbo’s arrival there, and departure, were both contained within the second film. But with three movies, it suddenly felt misplaced—after all, Bilbo has already arrived “there” in the “Desolation of Smaug”.

When we did the premiere trip late last year, I had a quiet conversation with the studio about the idea of revisiting the title. We decided to keep an open mind until a cut of the film was ready to look at. We reached that point last week, and after viewing the movie, we all agreed there is now one title that feels … Read More »

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Global Showbiz Briefs: BIFA To Honor Julie Walters; New Zealand Film Group Picks 10 Best NZ Pics Of All Time; More

Julie Walters Tapped For BIFA’s Richard Harris Award
Julie WaltersJulie Walters is to receive the Richard Harris Award at the British Independent Film Awards this coming weekend. The prize was introduced in 2002 to recognize outstanding contribution to British film by an actor. Walters started out in television and broke into film with her BAFTA- and Golden Globe-winning performance in 1983’s Educating Rita. She was also nominated for an Oscar for the film and later received a further Oscar nomination for Stephen Daldry’s Billy Elliot. More recently, she played Ron Weasley’s mother Molly in all of the Harry Potter movies. Among Walters’ other credits are Prick Up Your Ears, Calendar Girls, Becoming Jane and Mamma Mia! She next will be seen in The Harry Hill Movie and in 2014’s live-action Paddington. The BIFAs will be held on December 8 in London.

New Zealand Film Body Picks 10 Best NZ Films Of All Time
heavenly creaturesA government-backed film body in New Zealand has released its list of the Top 10 New Zealand films of all time. Rather than select any of the Lord Of The Rings movies, NZ On Screen selected Peter Jackson’s 1994 Heavenly Creatures as the director’s entry. The organization recognized that “much dissension will arise from the exclusion of Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. … Although Jackson’s film company WingNut was involved in all productions, they are generally viewed as Hollywood films made in Wellington. For the purposes of this Top 10, it’s sensible to preclude them.” Instead, it said that Heavenly Creatures, which gave Kate Winslet her first big screen role, was “the best film to mark the extraordinary talent of our most commercially successful director.” NZ On Screen is funded by NZ On Air, an independent government funding agency that invests in local content. Along with Heavenly Creatures, the Top 10 also includes: Goodbye Pork Pie (1981), Smash Palace (1981), Utu (1983), Vigil (1984), The Piano (1993), Once Were Warriors (1994), Whale Rider (2002), In My Father’s Den (2004) and Boy (2010). Of the somewhat dark choices, NZ On Screen said: “We are a weird people and we seem to prefer making films about how weird we are. We depict what we know.” Read More »

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Peter Jackson, Joe Letteri & Weta Digital To Receive Producers Guild’s Vanguard Award

By | Monday November 11, 2013 @ 10:35am PST

LOS ANGELES, CA (November 11, 2013) – The Producers Guild of America (PGA) announced today that acclaimed filmmaker Peter Jackson, visual effects artist Joe Letteri and Weta Digital will receive the Producers Guild’s 2014 Vanguard Award. The award will be presented to Jackson, Letteri and Weta Digital at the 25th Annual Producers Guild Awards ceremony on Sunday, January 19th at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles.

Jackson and Letteri‘s Academy Award-winning visual effects powerhouse Weta Digital is a world leader in all areas of digital visual effects production, having created some of the most astounding effects ever seen onscreen. Their motion picture credits include such hits as THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY, the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, AVATAR and KING KONG, among many others.

The Producers Guild’s Vanguard Award recognizes achievements in new media and technology. Previous recipients include James Cameron, Stan Lee, George Lucas, John Lasseter, YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, and game designer Will Wright, as well as RealD’s Michael V. Lewis and Joshua Greer.

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Hot Trailer: ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug’ 3-Minute Peek

By | Monday November 4, 2013 @ 5:09pm PST

Here’s another look at Peter Jackson‘s Hobbit sequel The Desolation Of Smaug, hurtling toward theaters on December 13. The new three-minute trailer includes looks at newcomers Evangeline Lilly and Luke Evans and franchise returnees Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Lee Pace, and Richard Armitage between shots of dragon-induced carnage, fight action, and peril in Middle Earth:

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Hot Trailer: ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug’

By | Tuesday October 1, 2013 @ 6:03am PDT

Warner Bros has unleashed the second trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, due out in the U.S. on December 13th. The sequel to Peter Jackson‘s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the second of three MGM- and Warner-produced movies adapted from JRR Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings prequel novel. Martin Freeman returns as Bilbo Baggins along with Ian McKellen as Gandalf and Cate Blanchett as Galadriel. Orlando Bloom takes up Legolas’ quiver and Evangeline Lilly joins the troupe this time around. Benedict Cumberbatch voices the titular dragon:

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Global Showbiz Briefs: ‘Ataru’ Dethrones ‘The Wind Rises’ In Japan; Peter Jackson Given Highest Kiwi Honor; More

After a nine-week streak, Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises has slipped from the No. 1 spot at the Japanese box office. Ataru: The First Love & The Last Kill, an adaptation of a popular TV series, overtook the animation master’s final feature at the weekend, making over $3.5M. FilmBizAsia reports that it is only the second live-action TV adaptation to open at No. 1 this year. The Wind Rises fell to the No. 2 spot and now has a cume of $106.5M. Meanwhile, The Wolverine opened at No. 3 with $1.85M and Warner Japan’s remake of Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven was No. 4 with $1.45M.

Peter Jackson was given New Zealand’s highest honor on Tuesday, becoming an Additional Member of the Order of New Zealand for services to the country. He also received the order’s insignia, the first time a film industry player has been given the badge. According to Stuff, only 20 members of the order can hold the badge and it must be returned by the recipient’s estate upon their death. “Obviously, it’s something I’m going to have to look after and I’m going to have to make sure my children know where to find it, but I do hope to hold on to it for quite a long time,” Jackson said. Read More »

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Peter Jackson, Guillermo Del Toro Back Controversial Harry Knowles Kickstarter

By | Wednesday September 4, 2013 @ 2:16pm PDT

Ain’t It Cool News blogger Harry Knowles already has a polarizing rep for getting chummy with the makers of the movies he covers. Now Peter Jackson is the latest high profile filmmaker to throw his support behind a crowdfunding campaign to raise $100K for Knowles’ fanboy talk show. In a video posted today, the Hobbit helmer urges backers to contribute to Knowles’ Kickstarter which is just about $18K shy with a day left to reach its goal. I hear Jackson has not made an official monetary donation to the campaign but other directors including Rian Johnson, Eli Roth, and Guillermo del Toro have backed the project, with del Toro notably donating $5K to the cause. Read More »

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Peter Jackson Invited To Direct ‘Doctor Who’ Episode – But Won’t: No Time Now

By | Saturday August 24, 2013 @ 11:37am PDT
Mike Fleming

It spread like wildfire on the web this weekend that Peter Jackson will direct an episode of Doctor Who. I can tell you with 100% certainty that there are no plans for Jackson to do any such thing. What has happened is this: Jackson has been given an open-ended invitation to direct an episode of the series if he was ever available. It did not progress beyond that. The director is completely engrossed in the second and third installments of The Hobbit trilogy, and he will not be emerging from Middle Earth for the better part of two years. Now, Jackson is a devoted fan of the series: I saw him two Comic-Cons ago and, when my son mentioned he was headed to a Doctor Who event, Jackson stopped him in his tracks – and they spent most of my interview time talking about their love for the series.

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Peter Jackson Confirms No ‘Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug’ At Comic-Con, Too Busy Finishing Sequels

By | Monday July 1, 2013 @ 2:31pm PDT

In his latest production diary from the set of The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, Peter Jackson reveals that the Tolkien sequel won’t be at this month’s Comic-Con at all. Last year he popped up to court fans with 12 minutes of The Hobbit screened in 2D at 24 FPS — a careful choice following his disastrous 48 FPS Cinema-Con first-look. Today he explains he’s too busy finishing December 13′s Smaug and 2014′s The Hobbit: There And Back Again to even put together a sizzle reel for Warner Bros:

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Hot Trailer: ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug’

By | Tuesday June 11, 2013 @ 10:18am PDT

The sequel to Peter Jackson‘s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is due out December 13 from Warner Bros, the second of three MGM- and Warners-produced movies adapted from JRR Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings prequel novel. Here’s the first look at the The Desolation Of Smaug, which introduces the titular dragon voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch:

Watch this video on YouTube.

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Peter Jackson Talks ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug’: Video

Peter Jackson participated in a Hobbit live event from New Zealand last weekend that provided some insight into the second film in the trilogy, The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, which is due out in December. The director today posted about six minutes from the event where he took questions from followers, collaborators and J.R.R. Tolkien super-fan Stephen Colbert — who poses a super-detailed query about the elves of Mirkwood at the 1:28 mark in the video below. Jackson said on Facebook today that editing starts next week on the third film, The Hobbit: There And Back Again. “A lot of that movie was shot nearly a year ago, so I’m looking forward to seeing it come alive, shot by shot in the cutting room. It’s like assembling one of those complex 2000-piece jigsaw puzzles,” he wrote. The full Hobbit event, which included input from Orlando Bloom, Stephen Fry, Evangeline Lilly and Dominic Monaghan, is available at The Hobbit‘s official site but requires an access code. Here’s Jackson’s excerpt:

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Peter Jackson’s Park Road To Close “Commercially Unsustainable” Film Lab

By | Monday March 25, 2013 @ 3:09am PDT

In yet another causalty of the shift to digital, New Zealand’s first-ever post-production facility, Park Road, will shutter its 35mm film processing laboratory in June, according to local reports. Privately owned by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, who acquired it in 1999, Park Road has been in operation since 1941 with credits that include the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, King Kong and District 9. General manager Cameron Harland said in a note to clients, “We have always been incredibly proud of the quality of the Lab and said we would be the last Lab standing. That has been true in New Zealand for the last 12 months or so, but unfortunately the shift in digital acquisition and exhibition, has meant that this part of our business has now become commercially unsustainable,” reports. The company has urged filmmakers that need lab services to “get material to us quickly.” The remainder of Park Road’s businesses, including sound, picture, VFX and the digital lab continue to operate.

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Documents Shed Light On Peter Jackson’s 2010 ‘Hobbit’ Dispute With Australian Union

By | Tuesday February 26, 2013 @ 5:01am PST

Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney

Documents released by the New Zealand government today reveal more of the intense nature of the 2010 dispute over The Hobbit which threatened to move production out of the country. Included are emails between Peter Jackson and government officials which further crystallize the ire in the Shire over the aggressive tactics and demands of New Zealand Actors’ Equity and its Oz-based umbrella, The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance — which repped a small amount of actors — during their campaign to unionize the production. The turmoil ultimately calmed when the government amended the labor laws and gave the Warner Bros production $56M to shoot in the country after Jackson threatened to film elsewhere. Jackson and partner Fran Walsh said today they hope the documents (read them here) will “put to rest the unfounded conspiracy theories that sought to characterize these events as a Hollywood studio dictating terms to a sovereign government — a charge that is as spurious now as it was then.” Read More »

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Warner Bros Should Repay ‘Hobbit’ Subsidy Says New Zealand Politician

By | Monday January 14, 2013 @ 9:20pm PST

Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney.

The leader of NZ First political party has demanded Warner Bros. repay the $NZ67 million ($US56 million) subsidy it got from the New Zealand government for Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit after the first film in the trilogy grossed more than $NZ1 billion worldwide. Winston Peters disputed Prime Minister John Key’s claim that the productions had created an extra 3,000 jobs, alleging that figure was plucked from the air. A spokeswoman for Key insisted 3,000 jobs was “a minimum” and did not count flow-on jobs created for businesses and communities that supplied and serviced The Hobbit. In correspondence with the government obtained by NZ First under the Official Information Act, a rep of Jackson’s Wingnut Films described 3,000 jobs as “a good number” and said there were 1,000 people on payroll at the studio, 1,000 at Weta Digital and almost 1,000 at Park Road Post, Weta Workshop and related companies and casual contractors. NZ First has seven seats in parliament and Peters was a Minister outside Cabinet in the Labour-led coalition government from 2005-2008. “The Government stands by its commitment to attract and retain the film industry in New Zealand in order to reap these significant economic benefits,” Key’s spokesman said. Warner Bros. had no comment.

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‘The Hobbit’ Opens To $223M Worldwide As It Breaks Records Around Globe: $84.7M Domestic And $138.2M International For All-Time Christmas Release

By | Sunday December 16, 2012 @ 11:10am PST

SUNDAY 11 AM, 8TH UPDATEHollywood now has high hopes for this all-important holiday box office after this journey to Middle Earth is the largest Christmas release of all time. Rival studios knew Peter Jackson‘s film adaptation of the 1937 JRR Tolkien novel would be a monster hit so left this weekend alone. Warner Bros says The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey internationally opened to $138.2M in its first 5 days for 15M admissions in 56 markets from 18,200 screens. Domestically it earned $84.7M from 4,045 theaters. That makes for a gargantuan worldwide total of $223M, including a December record of $15M from IMAX screens. Pic opened in U.S./Canada to $37.5M Friday and $28.1M Saturday and an estimated $19.1M Sunday for an $84.7M weekend with an ‘A’ CinemaScore from audiences. There are two records shattered – biggest December Friday and biggest December weekend for the domestic box office. The debut for the 3D actioner from MGM/Warner Bros in 4,045 theaters is grossing much larger than The Lord Of The Rings trilogy. Friday’s take included a record $13M from 3,100 midnight shows, counting $1.6M on IMAX screens. Matinee trends had the pic on a $113+M fast track for its first U.S.-Canada weekend. But then its business slowed Friday evening no doubt because of its very long 2 hour, 46 minute running time. Exit polling of the audience showed that males made up 57%/females 43%, and that under 25 years old were 42%/over 25 yrs old 58%/under 18 years old 20%.

The Hobbit was digitally re-mastered into IMAX 3D format and a select number of IMAX theatres will be presenting the pic using a higher frame rate (HFR) – presenting the picture in 48 frames per second (fps) which is closer to what the human eye actually sees. This is twice the rate of the standard 24 fps, which is the current format in cinemas worldwide. This use of HFR 3D is the first in a major motion picture release. Domestically, IMAX (included in the overall total) comprised $10.1M from 326 locations. As for market share, 3D made up 49% and 2D was 51%. IMAX logged multiple sellouts across North America. In fact, The Hobbit‘s top 10 North American locations were all IMAX runs.

It’s already the #1 movie internationally since opening Wednesday. Warner Bros says 3D screens represented 60% of the total box office. The Hobbit broke an IMAX December record, grossing $5M in 126 IMAX overseas locations for a hefty per screen average of $40K. (December records were set in Brazil, Spain, Singapore, Turkey, Ukraine and the UK.) IMAX HFR locations generated $44K per screen domestically and $57K per screen overseas. Country by country, Warner Bros says The Hobbit opened to: UK – £11.4M (US$18.3M) taking 62% of the market share with 3D projection 60%; Germany - €12.6M (US$16.3M) including previews, representing a 60% share with 3D taking 80%; France - €9.8M (US$12.7M) taking 63% of the top 5 films with 3D projection 60%; Korea debuted to KRW9.2B (US$8.5M); Spain €6.5M (US$8.4M); Sweden SEK39.6M (US$6.0M); Italy €4.2M (US$5.4M); Mexico Ps66M (US$5.2M); Brazil R$10.1M (US$4.9M). My insiders thought it was very possible for the movie to end this weekend with approximately $200M worldwide but it did way more. Yowza!

In the U.S. and Canada, MovieTickets said box office advance tickets for the pic accounted for nearly 91% of sales going into Friday, with nearly 18% coming from those wanting to see the film in standard 3D format, 8% in High Frame Rate 3D, and 7% in IMAX 3D. The record opening for this weekend is I Am Legend‘s $77m. Remember, all Lords Of The Rings 2D films opened Christmas Week whereas 3D The Hobbit will play to lower openings but huge multiples helped by 3D and IMAX. The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey‘s production was managed by New Line Cinema with parent company Warner Bros Pictures handling worldwide theatrical distribution. Select international territories (including Scandinavia) as well as all international television distribution was handled by MGM.

In North America, the film is playing in 4,045 theaters, a record number for December. That includes 3,160 3D theaters and 461 theaters in the 48 frames-per-second format. Overseas, The Hobbit is opening in 55 territories on approximately 17,000 screens this weekend (excluding Australia, China and Russia). The pic scored a record opening in New Zealand where it was filmed and which is Jackson’s native country, marking the biggest non-holiday debut for a Wednesday.

Warner Bros, which specializes in tentpoles, crafted an event-level marketing campaign that simultaneously had to satisfy Tolkien’s Hobbit and Jackson’s Lord Of The Rings fans but also ignite new ones. ”We were fortunate to have in Peter Jackson a director who had both a unique vision for this broad movie marketed to everyone and a sustained relationship with his singular fan base,” the studios told me. To aid that, The Hobbit included many familiar faces among the cast and filmmakers from the original trilogy: Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf the Grey, Cate Blanchett as Galadriel, Ian Holm as Old Bilbo, Christopher Lee as Saruman, Hugo Weaving as Elrond, Elijah Wood as Frodo, and Andy Serkis as Gollum. Martin Freeman plays the central role of Bilbo Baggins, with Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield.

The screenplay was by Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson & Guillermo del Toro based on the Tolkien novel. Jackson and Walsh also produced the film, together with Carolynne Cunningham and Zane Weiner. The executive producers are former Warner Bros film topper Alan Horn, and New Line chief Toby Emmerich, as well as Jackson’s longtime manager and producing partner Ken Kamins and Carolyn Blackwood. Also pivotal was Jackson’s Weta Digital, the five-time Academy Award- winning visual effects facility based in Wellington, New Zealand, as well as Weta Workship for physical effects.

The marketing campaign began back in 2011 on Facebook with a series of video journals from Jackson’s POV, engaging fans throughout the year by taking them into the production activity leading up to the announcement trailer at the beginning of 2012.  Jackson also marked milestones like Hobbit Day and the novel’s 75th anniversary. Publicity included the first ever film-themed Rolling Stone standalone issue and a week of television programming on The Colbert Report. The Hobbit also received major treatment from Fall and Holiday previews. An online media blitz kicked off in early November with an advanced ticketing campaign across YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to drive early ticket sales. Warner Bros live-streamed the world premiere from Wellington, New Zealand, to a record-setting audience of a million views.

DreamWorks/Fox/Disney’s Lincoln passed the $100M mark domestically on Thursday, 34 days from its initial exclusive release in 11 theaters on November 9th. Total moviegoing this weekend was $137M, which is +15.9% over last year.

Here’s the Top Ten based on weekend estimates:

1. The Hobbit: Unexpected Journey (MGM/WB) NEW [Runs 4,045] PG13
Friday $37.5M, Saturday $28.1M, Weekend $84.7M

2. Rise Of The Guardian (DWA/Par) Week 4 [Runs 3,387] PG
Friday $1.5M, Saturday $3.4M, Weekend $7.4M, Cume $71.3M

3. Lincoln (DreamWorks/Fox/Disney) Week 6 [Runs 2,285] PG13
Friday $1.9M, Saturday $3.2M, Weekend $7.2M, Cume $107.9M

4. Skyfall (Eon/MGM/Sony) Week 6 [Runs 2,924] PG13
Friday $1.8M, Saturday $3.0M, Weekend $7.0M, Cume $272.3M

5. Life Of Pi (Fox) Week 4 [Runs 2,548] PG
Friday $1.3M, Saturday $2.3M, Weekend $5.4M, Cume $69.5M

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Peter Jackson Again Denies Animal Abuse Claims Before ‘Hobbit’ Premiere

By | Tuesday November 27, 2012 @ 10:40pm PST

Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney.

Peter Jackson again denied allegations of animal abuse during filming of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. “Absolutely none; no mistreatment, no abuse”, he said during a news conference in Wellington hours before Wednesday’s world premiere in New Zealand. The director also described animal rights group PETA as “pretty pathetic” for seeking publicity for their cause at the premiere. When asked if the negative publicity had dampened the experience of making the film, Jackson said it had not. “At the end of the day we’ve made a movie we’re extremely proud of. So many people have worked for so long, it will take a bit more than that to spoil the event”.

Peter Jackson Posts Defense Against Animal Cruelty Allegations Read More »

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