Peter Jackson says he and his team are working ’round the clock to finish post-production on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in time for its world premiere Wednesday November 28 in Wellington, New Zealand. And there’s also U.S. opening December 14. Jackson and editor Jabez Olssen introduce the latest in a series of Hobbit video progress reports:
UPDATE: Deadline has learned that Radio New Zealand journalist Cushla Norman is in fact invited to the red carpet and press conference for Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. While we understand a mistake was made in uninviting the reporter, it has been rectified and her credentials have not been revoked. People close to the situation have assured Deadline that there is no media blacklist.
Norman said earlier today that her premiere and press conference credentials had been revoked because of her negative coverage. Separately, Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit production company Wingnut Films told New Zealand’s TV3 “We don’t have — and have never had — any form of media blacklist. That’s not who we are or how we operate.” Read More »
I’ve received a fuller statement from Peter Jackson and The Hobbit‘s production team regarding those animal cruelty allegations. This is what’s posting on Jackson’s Facebook page:
FROM PETER JACKSON & PRODUCERS OF THE HOBBIT The Hobbit production has always instituted swift and immediate investigations in to any concerns of any kind over the treatment of animals under its care. A prompt and thorough investigation into the recent unsubstantiated allegations by the American organisation, PETA, in to the ‘hobbling’ of a horse during the making of The Hobbit was undertaken. No evidence of such a practice was found to have occurred at any time. Further, the production contacted the owner of the horse concerned who provided the following statement: “I am 100% happy with the return of Shanghai and his condition. In the term that he was leased he was picked up and returned to me two times. On both occasions there was not a mark on him and he was healthy and happy. He has shown no signs of ill-treatment. I would not hesitate in leasing him to the movie again.”
To date, the only horse wranglers whose treatment of animals fell below the production’s standard of care seem to be the two wranglers who have chosen to level this new accusation on the eve of the premiere of the first Hobbit film and who were dismissed by the production over a year ago. Reports of their actions are documented in several written
UPDATE, 8:29 PM: Director Peter Jackson and the other producers of The Hobbitsay that allegations by PETA of mistreatment of animals during the production of the upcoming film are “unsubstantiated.” Earlier today, it was reported that over two dozens animals used in the movie died from the conditions in a New Zealand farm they were housed in. The farm was over 180 miles from the movie’s main set. The producers later said that they “completely reject” the accusations. Now The Hobbit team say PETA never “properly” checked out the story of the dismissed animal wranglers that were the source of the claims. Read the producers’ full statement below:
Only about 4.5% of the 10,000 or so domestic screens that will show New Line and MGM’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journeyon December 14 will present it the way director Peter Jackson wants — at 48 frames per second instead of the conventional 24 frames. But Warner Bros Domestic Distribution President Dan Fellman tells me that this reflects a cautious rollout strategy, not a failure to win support from exhibition execs. Even now, “equipment is being tested” and some glitches have been corrected, he says. “So we did the right thing” by limiting the rollout to anywhere from 400 to 450 screens covering most major cities. “This is a technology that is going to change the way people see movies…You have to do it right.”
Warner Bros seemed to have bigger ambitions for the visually vivid 3D projection technology — which the studio’s calling “HFR” (for High Frame Rate) — at the exhibition industry’s CinemaCon trade confab in April. That effort hit a huge PR speed bump when several viewers said that they were unmoved by a 10-minute excerpt of the film in 48 fps. Carmike Cinemas’ Terrel Mayton said at the time that HFR “has to be a kick-the-picture-out (advancement) or it just becomes one of a long line of technology advances that’s here for a while and then move into oblivion.” Theater owners have to pay about $5,000 for a projector to handle HFR — first-generation digital ones can’t be upgraded. More recent projectors only require a software upgrade which can run $1,500. It can cost as much as $20,000 to make the change at an IMAX venue. Theaters also have to shell out more to store HFR prints than they do for conventional 24 fps digital films. Read More »
BREAKING… Peter Jackson’s epic fantasy adventure The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey doesn’t open in North American movie theaters until December 14th. But I’ve learned that tickets are going on sale more than a month in advance. The date is this Wednesday, November 7th, online and in theaters across North America at 12:00 PM Eastern Time. ”We’re expecting a big result as we start the journey for all 3 films,” a Warner Bros exec tells me. To ‘event-ize’ the release, moviegoers will be able to return to Middle-earth at marathon screenings of Jackson’s The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy in Extended Cut editions on Saturday, December 8th, and Sunday December 9th. Tickets for these all-day events also will go on sale online and in theaters throughout the U.S. at Noon ET on Wednesday November 7th.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will be followed by the second film The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug releasing December 13, 2013, and the third film, The Hobbit: There and Back Again slated for July 18, 2014. All 3 films are productions of New Line Cinema and MGM Pictures, with New Line managing production and Warner Bros Pictures handling worldwide theatrical distribution. Select international territories as well as all international television distribution is being handled by MGM. Under Jackson’s direction, The Hobbit Trilogy has been shot in 3D 48 frames-per-second and will be released in High Frame Rate 3D (HFR 3D), other 3D formats, IMAX and 2D. These adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic novels tell the continuous story set in Middle-earth 60 years before The Lord Of The Rings, which Jackson and his filmmaking team brought to the big screen and won the Best Picture Oscar for The Return of the King.
The Amy Berg-directed documentary West Of Memphis — about the now-famous trial, conviction and eventual release of the West Memphis 3 — is largely based on private investigators and forensic testing financed by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh. The pair produced the docu with West Memphis 3 member Damien Echols and his wife Lorri Davis. Some of the evidence presented paints an overwhelming picture that the trio was railroaded while the killer of three 8-year-old boys in Arkansas in 1994 remains free. Sony Pictures Classics is releasing West Of Memphis on December 25.
To say the Kiwis are all-in over native son Peter Jackson‘s locally shot The Hobbit trilogy is putting it lightly. Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city, is calling itself The Middle Of Middle-earth, and there’s a giant clock atop the Embassy adorned with an image of Martin Freeman as Bilbo counting down the minutes to the premiere of the first film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, in November. Now even Jackson (see if you can catch his Hitchcock-esque cameo) and Andy Serkis are aboard with Air New Zealand‘s new pre-flight instruction video. Maybe these branded pre-flights will catch on (Denzel Washington’s Flight, we’re not talking to you).
Just ahead of its official bow, Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will screen for Britain’s royal family as the 65th Royal Film Performance. The event will take place December 12 and benefits the Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund, which cares for UK industry employees and their families who are suffering hardship. Warner Bros UK chief Josh Berger said, “It’s fitting that this film, with a significant number of British cast and crew, will help support the great work the CTBF does for those most in need in the UK’s film and television community.” British castmembers include Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, Ian Holm, Andy Serkis, Luke Evans and Benedict Cumberbatch. Warner Bros releases the film December 14.
The latest tease for Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey dropped this morning. The merry dwarves are back along with menacing monsters and fresh footage since the first trailer from last December. This one also has extra Gollum. This will be the first picture in what recently became a trilogy of Hobbit movies. In July, it was confirmed that Jackson would split what was a planned two-picture story into three films from JRR Tolkien’s book and 125 pages of appendices that the author included in a later publication of final Lord Of The Rings installment, The Return Of The King. Set in Middle-earth, 60 years before LOTR, The Hobbit trilogy kicks off with n Unexpected Journey on December 14 this year, followed by The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug on Dec. 13, 2013 and The Hobbit: There And Back Again on July 18, 2014.
Warner Bros and MGM Pictures jointly announced today that the final film in Peter Jackson’s trilogy adaptation of the JRR Tolkien novel is now titled The Hobbit: There and Back Again. It will be released worldwide on July 18, 2014. All three films in the trilogy are productions of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures. The Studios also announced the title of the second installment in the franchise, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, which will be released on December 13, 2013. The first film in the trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, opens this holiday season on December 14, 2012. Under Jackson’s direction, all three movies are being shot in digital 3D using the latest camera and stereo technology. Additional filming, as with principal photography, is taking place at Stone Street Studios, Wellington, and on location around New Zealand.Shot in 3D 48 frames-per-second, the film trilogy will be released in High Frame Rate (HFR) 3D, other 3D formats, IMAX, and 2D.
Dan Fellman, Warner Bros Pictures President of Domestic Distribution said in a statement, “We wanted to have a shorter gap between the second and third films of The Hobbit Trilogy. Opening in July affords us not only the perfect summer tentpole, but fans will have less time … Read More »
BREAKING: West of Memphis, the Amy Berg-directed documentary that was one of the highlights of the last Sundance Film Festival, will join the Mavericks section of the 2012 Toronto Film Festival. The film, which is largely based on private investigators and forensic testing financed by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh (they produce with West Memphis 3 member Damien Echols and his wife Lorri Davis), will get a premiere. There to help the filmmakers launch the film and participate in the press conference and Q&A will be Johnny Depp and Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines. Both have been longtime supporters of a retrial for Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr, who were convicted of triple homicide even though there was not a shred of physical evidence. Depp also acquired the upcoming memoir by Echols for a feature. The sham of that original trial was captured in the HBO docu Paradise Lost, which became a trilogy and which sparked Jackson and Walsh’s interest in the case years ago. The defendants were finally let out of prison after nearly two decades in Arkansas after prosecutors granted them an Alford plea (technically pleading “guilty” while vehemently denying they committed the crime). All parties are still pressing for an outright exoneration, but the state has refused … Read More »
BREAKING: Peter Jackson has just confirmed he will split The Hobbit into three films, the third of which will be released sometime in summer 2014. Jackson dropped hints about this at Comic-Con, explaining he had a wealth of storytelling that came from 125 pages of appendices that JRR Tolkien included in a later publication of The Return Of The King, the final installment of The Lord Of The Rings. I wrote a piece skeptical of milking three movies out of a single book, and 125 pages of notes, and I hope that Jackson delivers the goods. I don’t believe there have been any renegotiation with talent that should be paid an extra check for another film, even if they didn’t know they were making three. Those details are still being worked out.
Peter Jackson first mentioned at Comic-Con two weeks ago that he was toying with what to do with all the extra footage he has shot for a two film adaptation ofThe Hobbit. Now, reports are hot and heavy that he’s actually going to turn his two films into a trilogy. When I spoke with Peter Jackson about The Hobbit in San Diego, he was very excited about the 125 pages of notes in an appendices that JRR Tolkien wrote and included in the final The Lord of the Rings novel Return of the King. I’m told now that the possibility is perhaps better than it was then that this might happen, but that it is by no means a certainty. There are internal discussions, and I have to say, they make me wince. There wasn’t a wasted second in LOTR, with the films building to a satisfying, nearly $1.2 billion worldwide gross and Oscar-winning conclusion. I read The Hobbit numerous times and I don’t think that Bilbo Baggins has three films in him.
Jackson told me that the notes written by Tolkien presaged his intention to update The Hobbit and give it more of the weight of Lord Of The Rings. Here’s what he said:
“That goes back to JRR Tolkien writing The Hobbit first, for children, and only after did he develop his mythology much more over the 16 or 17 years later when The Lord of the Rings came out, which is way more epic and mythic and serious. What people have to realize is we’ve adapted The Hobbit, plus taken this additional 125 pages of notes, that’s what you’d call them. Because Tolkien himself was planning the rewrite The Hobbit after The Lord of the Rings, to make it speak to the story of The Lord of the Rings much more. In the novel, Gandalf disappears for various patches of time. Read More »
Peter Jackson wowed the Comic-Con crowd Saturday in Hall H by showing footage from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first of a two-parter on the Bilbo Baggins’ journey that leaves on his finger Sauron’s Ring Of Power, the precursor to Jackson’s billion dollar grossing The Lord of the Rings trilogy for New Line Cinema. Jackson’s appearance created as many questions as it answered. Bloggers are reporting he said that The Hobbit might become a trilogy and they’ve also wondered why Jackson chose not to show the 3D in the 48 frames-per-second format in which he shot both Hobbit films. On the trilogy possibility, I’m told that while Jackson shot plenty of extra footage, he has already stretched a single book into two movies. His DVD editions of The Lord of the Rings were so compellingly loaded with extended cuts of each film—they actually filled in storytelling gaps for hard core fans–that my bet is he indulges those fans that way again, even though no final decision has yet been made. I don’t think anybody but the money guys behind Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 thought it was creatively satisfying to break Stephenie Meyer’s last book into two films and I would be surprised if Jackson went that route unless the movies are just too long to fit in a double feature.
DEADLINE: Guillermo Del Toro told me he didn’t feel badly about stepping away from directing The Hobbit because the film ended up in the right hands, your hands. Everybody felt that way but you it seemed. Why did it take you so long to embrace a return to Middle Earth as director?
JACKSON: It did seem that way, but you’re talking about a series of events that were largely out of everybody’s control at the time. I have a certain belief in fate. Not in a religious way but over my life I find that if you try to assert yourself and influence things too much, it’s not necessarily the best idea. You kind of take your foot off the clutch at some stage and freewheel and let things happen. Guillermo was developing The Hobbit, I was producing it and I had other things that I was developing of my own at that time. And for the 18 months he was on it, we never had a green light. Read More »
Peter Jackson has delivered another in a series of video blogs on the making of The Hobbit. This one is a tour of the New Zealand sets where the movie is being made. Jackson has been most generous in letting fans get a glimpse of how he creates the Middle Earth magic. This one, which shows the actors in and out of character and the sets, leads me to wonder: by letting the audience see behind the curtain, is he demystifying that magic at the expense of the film? When I watched this, it made me recall a magazine interview I once did with Daniel Day-Lewis. That actor (who was the first choice for Aragorn in The Lord Of The Rings) told me how much he did not like any promotional efforts that reveals the magic — that it’s like a magician explaining a magic trick. Day-Lewis’ process is unique in that he plunges himself into extreme modes of preparation for roles, and then so loathes watching himself on screen (he focuses on the flaws nobody else sees) that the actor doesn’t really get to see the finished product. Still, he makes an interesting point. Does showing the actors as themselves, and revealing snippets of sets and footage rob viewers of the completely immersive experience that made The Lord Of The Rings trilogy one of the great cinematic accomplishments in recent cinema?
Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will have its world premiere November 28 in New Zealand — two weeks before its U.S. debut and on Jackson’s home turf. Warner Bros bows the film in the states December 14, 2012; the second film in the series, The Hobbit: There And Back Again, is set for domestic release December 13, 2013. New Line Cinema and MGM teamed on the movies, the prequels to the JRR Tolkein novels that begat Jackson’s The Lord Of The Rings trilogy. Filming on the Hobbit movies is taking place at Stone Street Studios in Wellington and on location throughout New Zealand.
After less than glowing audience reaction to clips of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey screened in ultra-high-resolution at CinemaCon in Las Vegas, director Peter Jackson says “Nobody is going to stop. This technology is going to keep evolving.” But he hopes moviegovers will wait and judge the finished movie when it comes out December 14. Some observers at the CinemaCon presention thought the imagery shot and projected at 48 frames per second was too sharply different visually from the longtime industry standard of 24 frames per second. A three-time Oscar winner echoed Jackson’s observation. “I think we should let him finish it and see what it’s like then, but it seems a little like the look of a soap opera”. Jackson said he noticed that some in the audience seemed to like it more as the show went on. “I just wonder if they were getting into the dialogue, the characters and the story. That’s what happens in the movie. You settle into it.”