Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line Cinema join Peter Jackson and the producers of THE HOBBIT in vigorously refuting and condemning accusations of animal abuse on the films. The production acted swiftly and responsibly in addressing any incidents involving animals in its care throughout the long filming process, and in fact, measures were taken to protect all farm animals, including those uninvolved with the films.
We question the timing of this misinformation — given THE HOBBIT’s imminent release — and have no recourse other than to reveal that the primary source of these new allegations can be traced to freelance animal wranglers who were dismissed by the production over a year ago for cause. We are immensely proud of our association with Sir Peter Jackson, his dedicated film crew and the people of New Zealand.
The first full theatrical trailer for Man Of Steel will debut before The Hobbit when the Peter Jackson-directed film opens next month, Deadline has confirmed. Director Zack Snyder told MTV News today that audiences would get an elongated look at his Warner Bros/Legendary Pictures-produced Superman reboot when The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey opens December 14. “It’s fun. I can’t wait for The Hobbit, so it will be fun to see our crazy Man Of Steel trailer and then enjoy The Hobbit because that’s going to be great,” Snyder said. Teaser trailers for the film were release earlier this year. Man Of Steel is set to fly to the big screen on June 14, 2013. Both The Hobbit and Man Of Steel are distributed by Warner Bros.
With a shortened nominating season (Oscar balloting starts December 17, 10 days earlier than usual), the Thanksgiving holiday period as well as the Christmas/New Year’s break won’t much of a break at all for many campaigns, which simply can’t take the time off or slow the momentum they are trying to build. After all there are just 3 1/2 weeks to go before those ballots land in Academy voters’ hands (or in the case of the new electronic voting this year, in their computers). So it is all stops out from here on in. And that means studios like Universal and Sony in particular will be using the long Thanksgiving weekend for an assault on guild and Academy members for their big December releases Les Miserablesand Zero Dark Thirty, respectively.
On Saturday, Universal’s Les Miz plan swings into action with an unprecedented six screenings — all featuring either in-person introductions or post-Q&A sessions with director Tom Hooper and “cast members”. The screening program will not let up until the film’s Christmas Day opening, which comes in the middle of the voting period. Universal is determined to get this film seen on the big screen by as many voters as possible despite the time crunch. The director only just locked Sunday night at 10 PM, according to an internal memo that carried instructions for delivery of the DCP materials for the digital projection. It’s a very precise, carefully orchestrated operation, and as the memo says “failure is not an option”. That’s certainly true in an awards race as tight as this one and particularly for a film as anticipated as this one.
“The reality is we’re going to screen this movie like nobody’s business the minute it’s ready and would have regardless….We’ll start screening the movie the day after Thanksgiving and are going to screen it, pretty much non-stop from there, until time of release. So between the screening program, its commercial availability beginning Christmas Day and for those who get the screeners, we think there’s abundant opportunity”, Universal chairman Adam Fogelson told an audience of Academy and Guild members attending the Moguls panel at Deadline’s recent all-day The Contenders event. He added that for smaller films the timing could be more of a challenge, but “not for any of the films here which are on everybody’s list”. 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.
EXCLUSIVE: The Lord Of The Rings star Elijah Wood has partnered with Daniel Noah and Josh C. Waller to form The Woodshed, an indie company that will focus on genre fare. While I tend to associate Wood with the wholesome hobbit he reprises in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit films, he played a pretty awful cannibal in Sin City, and he plays a full-on serial killer in the Franck Khalfoun-directed remake Maniac, which IFC Midnight acquired after it premiered at Cannes. Not surprisingly, Wood is a horror fanatic. “I’ve been a fan of horror and genre cinema in general since I was a child and have become increasingly passionate about the idea of there being a space in which horror films that take their subject matter and characters seriously could be produced,” he said. “What was born out of a conversation of our mutual love for the genre and what we felt was lacking in a broad sense, especially from the U.S. market, became The Woodshed.” 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 »
Luke Y. Thompson is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of Comic-Con.
For the Warner Bros/Legendary panel Comic-Con‘s big screen expanded to Cinerama proportions to impress fans with Pacific Rim and Godzilla teases while Man of Steel moved at least one fan to tears. For good measure, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey footage mixed familiar and new. Nerdist’s Chris Hardwick, dressed as David Tennant’s Doctor Who, moderated what was probably the most anticipated panel of the convention. He came in with a Sonic Screwdriver remote control, and suddenly two extra giant side screens were revealed as the black curtains peeled back. (Sort of like the Terminator 3D screen at Universal Studios.) This feels like what Cinerama was always supposed to be.
Legendary’s Thomas Tull came onstage, saying that his having a mic up there was a sign of the apocalypse, then briefly showed off how all the screens worked together for a Pacific Rim tease (metallic panels, serial numbers, vague sketches of pods – a mere taste for what was coming). Then Guillermo del Toro came out to say, in his inimitable, profane-comic fashion, “I’m shitting in my pants right now.” As he spoke and was pictured on the center screen, production designs and on-set footage flanked him on the side screens. He said it was important to have a sense of romantic adventure — not a war movie. And that it was important to have a sense of awe in a movie with giant robots and monsters. Del Toro said this will be the only thing shown until Christmas, and that this footage was just for us at Comic-con. Admonished “you motherfuckers with the James Bond cameras in the glasses, take them off.”
There was a huge reaction for Charlie Day coming out, and Ron Perlman (only in cavernous Hall H). Charlie Hunnam and Rink Kikuchi followed. Cheers for them too, but not quite as extra loud. How does Perlman feel about coming to Comic-Con? “It’s a miracle I’m still invited.” He says Guillermo’s standards are clearly plummeting since he keeps inviting Perlman back. Read More »
There is no chance the Comic-Con crowd will have forgotten him, but Guillermo Del Toro’s last directorial effort was a Hellboy sequel released in 2008. In the four years since, he collaborated on the scripts for two installments of The Hobbit, but dropped out as director. Then his fully realized 3D adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft’s At The Mountains Of Madness got abruptly unplugged by Universal. Del Toro is back at Comic-Con after completing the robots vs monsters saga Pacific Rim financed by Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. While it won’t be released until July 12, 2013, Del Toro is at Hall H today to show footage at a Warner Bros panel that also includes The Hobbit. Some in the industry have seen the early visuals and said they are stunning and they predict Del Toro will make a stirring return that was informed by his setbacks.
DEADLINE: You are finally here with a movie you directed. Describe your road here.
DEL TORO: Two years in New Zealand on The Hobbit, a year in L.A. and Canada developing Mountains. Luckily, during the year of Mountains, I started on Pacific Rim and when people ask me why I have four or five things in development, here’s the answer. … Read More »
BREAKING: Richard Armitage, who plays Dwarves’ leader Thorin Oakenshield in the Peter Jackson-directed The Hobbit, will move over to star in another New Line film. He’ll topline the untitled tornado film, the one that originally was set up under the title Category 6. Armitage has an accomplished resume, and was particularly good as tragic agent Lucas North in the British series MI-5.
The Walking Dead‘s Sarah Wayne is also starring, making this a very Comic-Con-centric film. Steve Quale is directing John Swetnam’s script. Todd Garner is producing. Alycia Debnam-Carey also recently joined the film, which follows a group of high school teens dealing with the aftermath of a devastating tornado. Armitage, who also appeared in The First Avenger: Captain America, is repped by WME and United Agents.
Time is running out for theaters that haven’t made the switch to digital projection. Studios’ use of conventional 35 mm prints “is projected to cease in the United States and other major markets by the end of next year, with global cutoff likely to happen by the end of 2015,” according to the latest IHS Screen Digest Cinema Intelligence Service report. There’s still a ways to go: The firm says that 51.5% of worldwide screens had digital projectors at the end of 2011, an increase of 82% from 2010. But IHS notes that soon it won’t be sufficient to have a digital projector. Director Peter Jackson is lobbying for theater owners pay for the software upgrade needed to show his upcoming The Hobbit films at 48 frames a second. That’s the speed at which he’s shooting the movies, up from the conventional 24 frames. At the end of 2011 about 50,000 of the world’s 63,825 digital screens, including 19,000 in the U.S., would be capable of being upgraded. Theaters with Series 2 DLP and Sony projectors will be able to accommodate Jackson. Pressure to upgrade won’t abate after The Hobbit. James Cameron plans to shoot his follow-ups to Avatar at 60 frames a second. (Incidently, IHS’ figure on the worldwide total of digital venues is slightly higher than the 2011 tally from the MPAA, which counted 62,684, of which 44% were in the U.S. and Canada.) 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?