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King of the consoles
Peter Jackson has joined yet another
elite Hollywood club: director’s who earn as much – if not more – from
helping create video games as they do from making movies. Riding on the success
LotR video games, Jackson has signed a deal with Ubisoft and Universal
Pictures which gives him significant creative control over (and financial reward
from) the future King Kong game. In the US last year, video games
created $10 billion in revenue in comparison with movie tickets’ $9.5 billion.
(12 April 2004)
2,500 fans took part in a "low-key"
ceremony to honour Peter Jackson and fellow Oscar winners at the Wellington
Events Centre. Jackson and co each received a glass goblet to add to their
already overflowing mantlepieces, as well as a glowing mayoral address. Jackson
has been profiled by almost every major news source since his triumph at the
CNN and the
the BBC, "[His]
NZ has always reserved its greatest adulation for sporting giants like Richard
Hadlee and Jonah Lomu
but a place must now be found on the victory dais for director Peter Jackson."
(February - March 2004)
How much do I love thee? Let me count the ways...
The Guardian asks LotR cast
members to explain their widely publicised admiration for NZ. Billy Boyd (Pippin): "The
land feels new; it feels like what Scotland might have been like a few million
years ago; it's still forming." Bernard Hill (Theoden): "The west coast of South
Island was one of my favourite places, north of the Fjords around the Franz
Joseph Glacier. It's really hard to describe why it's special; you just get it
when you go there." Sir Ian McKellen (Gandalf): "I first thought - a year in New
Zealand, great chance to visit Australia! But then almost immediately I found I
was moving round the most beautiful country in the world with the most amazing
variety of scenery. I fell in love in New Zealand. It's the most advanced nation
socially that I know of."
(13 December 2003)
The usually art-house sympathetic New
York Film Critics Circle chose Return of the King as their Best
Film of 2003, The American
Film Institute named the film in its top-10 of the year. The New York
Times' Elvis Mitchell: "a prodigious and meticulous vision ... the
product of impressive craft and energy". The Times: "And so it ends, the
greatest film trilogy ever mounted, with some of the most amazing action
sequences committed to celluloid. The Return of the King is everything a Ring
fan could possibly wish for, and much more." The Guardian: "The
Lord of the Rings is undeniably a landmark in cinema history, a creation of
demented, kamikaze passion that all logic suggested should never work and yet
(12 December 2003)
Watt's up Jackson?
Peter Jackson has reportedly
asked Australian actress Naomi Watts (Mulholland Drive, The Ring) to play
the female lead in King Kong, which begins shooting in Wellington this
(22 September 2003)
Weta Digital Uncovered
The Wellington-based animation team
behind the Lord of the Rings' award-winning visual effects were one of
the main attractions at the annual Siggraph exhibition in San Diego, California.
Established in the 1970s, Siggraph is the largest and most respected gathering
of computer programmers and gaming enthusiasts in the world.
(29 July 2003)
One GPS to find them all
Detroit Free Press feature on Rings tourism recommends Ian
Brodie's Lord of the Rings Location Book. One for the truly dedicated,
the guide offers the exact coordinates of incidental sites for those equipped
with a GPS electronic navigation unit. And Matamata
is the latest Mecca for LotR fans.
(23 March 2003)
Jackson cuts down
Peter Jackson has announced his next
film project and it's not The Hobbit or King Kong. Taking a
much-needed break from the epic-scale, Jackson is rumoured to be adapting
medical history for the screen with a New Zealand edge. The subject: the book As Nature Made Him -
Rolling Stone journalist John Colapinto's account of the consequences of NZ-born doctor
John Money's decision to
raise the victim of a botched circumcision as a girl, supporting Money's
controversial theory that nature mattered more than nurture in gender identity.
see the NZEDGE post-script on the (in)famous case here.
(31 January 2003)
Precious acclaim: two films tower over rest
"For the first time in a century,
Hollywood was beaten in the big budget fantasy stakes. Jackson and his team
delivered better special effects and better story-telling in what could be the
new millennium's greatest epic. And they did it all without leaving New
Zealand." The Fellowship of the Ring and The Piano both make SMH's
list of the top 100 movies of all time.
(6 January 2003)
Marketing Middle Earth
"Historically isolated by
geography, NZers are working to reap a publicity bonanza from [Lord of the Rings],
marketing their nation around the world as a destination for family tourism and
'a second Canada' for Hollywood productions seeking to save money on
location." From advertising NZ as "best supporting country" in The New Yorker
to offering Safari of the Rings 4WD tours, NZ industries are making the most of
a 3-year international focus on the country.
(31 December 2002)
Tall poppy keeps his
"A genius masquerading
as an ordinary person, a creative whirlwind, financial powerhouse and folk hero
rolled into one." LA Times applauds Peter Jackson's phenomenal success, not
only in film circles, but in the eyes of his hard-to-please compatriots.
"Perhaps because of the nation's egalitarian pioneer roots, underdogs are
championed here, highfliers cut down to size. But that's not the case with
(8 December 2002)
Middle Earth to the masses
Te Papa's Lord of the Rings exhibition (opening 19 December) is set to go
global. The interactive collection of costumes, props, sets, and gadgetry mounts
a two year international tour from February 2002, which includes stop-offs at
prestigious science museums in Toronto and Boston.
(8 December 2002)
LOTR wins … again
The Fellowship of the Ring won the Hugo Award for best dramatic
presentation at the World Science Fiction Convention in San Jose, California. In
attendance for the ceremony were Sean Astin (A.K.A Sam Gamgee) and NZer Sala
(1 September 2002)
LOTR wins over the youth vote: The Fellowship of the Ring takes out Best
Movie at the MTV Awards. Orlando Bloom received the Male Breakthrough
Performance award for his role as Legolas.
(15 June 2002)
PJ homme plus
"Peter Jackson's appearance must be inversely proportional to his
talent. The man was so unbelievably unkempt, he was beautiful. I wish he had won
Best Director for Lord of the Rings on the off-chance he would have
sprayed fake blood all over the audience or something equally befitting his
horror movie pedigree. But, alas, Ron Howard
was the name inside the envelope. [...] Howard was an appallingly bad choice for
Best Director in this year when he was surrounded by such [hairy?] heavy-hitters".
(28 March 2002)
From the podium:
“We have been on the most amazing journey together due in part to the vision
of Peter Jackson, the camaraderie of Barrie [Osborne], the incredible support of
Mark Ordesky Those
who went through hours of makeup [...] and the wonderful genius of the
small group of young New Zealanders that have gathered around us to make this so
possible.” Richard Taylor, chief Weta
and double winner for make-up and visual effects. (above, 2nd from R) “I just want to say
Australia and New Zealand are terrific places to grow up and great to work in
and great to live in.” Aussie Andrew Lesnie, winner for LotR
(25 March 2002)
Rings cleans up Awards
Lord of the Rings wins Best Film, Best Debut, and Best Actor at the
Empire Awards 2001. "It was the greatest experience of our
professional lives, going to New Zealand and working with Peter Jackson and the amazing team of New
Zealanders who made what seemed at times to be a home movie turn out to be this
blockbusting success", applauds Oscar heavyweight Ian McKellen on accepting the award.
(8 February 2002)
Fellowship of the Rings?
Our neighbours across the Tasman have always thought of themselves as Big
Brother, now they want to share toys: "anything which is good for Australia
is good for New Zealand, and vice versa. Anyone who's been in those parts of New
Zealand knows how magnificent it is, and we shouldn't resent that, we should
wish them luck and do cross-promoting with them...Now is the opportunity to get
in and just remind the world that Australasia is a great place for a
holiday", declares Christopher Brown, of Tourism Task Force Australia.
(17 December 2001)
"The real star of The Lord of the Rings is New Zealand. The
scenery, ranging from snowbound mountain passes to rolling grasslands, has a
beauty of jaw-dropping quality and it is all lovingly captured by Kiwi
Jackson" - relays The
Sun. "Physically the film is a triumph: an art department's dream and a
potent advert for New Zealand," - pronounces The
Floored by the Rings
(16 December 2001)
defender of the faith
Ian McKellen, the wise and noble Gandalf, has calmed purist fans, scoping
the Peter Jackson Rings trilogy as "perhaps the most faithful
screenplay ever adapted from a long novel".
(4 October 2000)
"A year's work abroad isn't unusual or daunting for an actor - but
a year in New Zealand? I'm indifferent to rugby and don't eat lamb but
at least it seemed a good opportunity to visit Australia. Almost at once,
however, New Zealand's allure won over and I managed only one weekend
in Sydney for a wet and cold Mardi Gras."
(2 September 2001)
"This will be the biggest movie of all time" - John Rhys-Davis in National
Post preview and cast interviews; Rings "hottest show at
Cannes" in The
reports "gargantuan bash"; preview "stunning" says New York
A gallery of stills from the preview.
(18 May 2001)
Ringing up the gold
Lord of the Rings has brought the gold into Wellington, the city of
"tearooms and sea views". View the New Zealand setting
in the round at the official site.
(20 January 2001)
"There's an advert currently going out on Virgin radio encouraging
listeners to go to the cinema this Friday. It does urge you go to a film but
only because this is the first opportunity to see the trailer for The
Fellowship of the Ring, the first part of the Lord of the Rings
trilogy being shot back-to-back in New Zealand." Also entertainment
news daily, Empire,
(9 January 2001)
488 160 minutes to go
Rings hype has generated over 400 websites, countless
articles and minute-by-minute countdowns.
(20 December 2000)
Join the army and let the world see you!
New Zealand defence personnel will feature on big screens around the globe -
as extras in Lord of the Rings. The soldiers were perfect when the
filmmakers needed "big numbers of people who were used to operating with a
degree of discipline".
(27 October 2000)
Cate Blanchett talks about me, my elf and I
Blanchett, Academy Award nominated for her performance in Elizabeth is in
the final stages of filming another Queen, the role of elf Galadriel in Lord
of the Rings. Blanchett explains why an attraction to Jackson's filmic edge
vision caused her to lobby hard for the role: "I heard on the grapevine
that Peter [Jackson] and Fran Walsh, his writing partner, were going to do it.
I'd long been a fan of their films."
(26 July 2000)
eter Jackson: "One of the most creative directors around"
Chicago Tribune, backs the talent of Jackson and a "top notch
cast" as Hollywood indemnity for the Lord of the Rings.
Jackson was recently voted 7th most promising director for the 21st
century in Empire mag ahead of the better known talents of Trainspotting's
Danny Boyle and Usual Suspect's Brian Singer and LA
Confidential's Curtis Hanson.
(2 July 2000)
Literary fans who are devoted to the purity of Tolkien's Middle Earth ouevre
are angry at rumours that Frodo Baggins is ready to flirt. The introduction of glamorous
Hollywood stars such as Liv Tyler and Cate Blanchet is seen as
threatening cherished personal readings of the book, voted best book of the
century in many polls last year.
Hollywood Hobbit brings trouble to Middle Earth
(25 June 2000)
Tolkien epic is lord of the net
The $200m epic, in production in New Zealand and not due for release for a
year and a half, is already burgling box-office treasure and causing a storm on the internet, with a promotional
trailer breaking download records. It has also spawned a plethora of fan sites
picking over everything from Liv as a love interest, to leaked set info, and the
provision of armour for 15000 extras by the Wellington Knitting Club.
(19 June 2000)
The Hobbit; Or, There and Back Again ...already?
Currently being filmed in New Zealand on a mammoth 18 month shoot, the
first film won't even be released until Christmas 2001. Despite this the film's
official site is up and running. "Preview" footage shown on the
site had more than 1.7 million downloads in the first 24 hours - not bad for a
trilogy of films whose debut is still 18 months away ...
(11 May 2000)
McKellen's Middle Earth return
Sir Ian McKellen
returned to NZ in August for the first time since 2003, to perform both
Shakespeare's King Lear and Chekhov's The Seagull with the Royal
Shakespeare Company. McKellen, who reached a new level of global fame as Gandalf
in the Lord of the Rings, performed at Wellington's Westpac St James
Theatre and Auckland's ASB Theatre, following dates in the UK, Singapore and
Australia. "This is a form of blood sport," said McKellen in the New
York Times. "The fun of going to see 'King Lear' is to watch actors
toppled from whatever status they have as the part defeats them." Far from
being "toppled", McKellen has sold out every show and received
near-unanimous critical praise for his performances. The RSC now heads to the
US, before finishing up at London's West End.
(2 September 2007)
Photo Jocelyn Carlin/Panos for The New York Times
Jackson most powerful
of the list of Hollywood's power people compiled by Premiere magazine for their
June issue have revealed that Lord Of The Rings director Peter Jackson is the
most powerful. According to the reports, director Steven Spielberg came second
while Steve Jobs and John Lasseter, heads of Pixar jointly came third. Stars
Wars creator George Lucas was 11th, while Tom Cruise was the highest placed
actor at No14.
(9 May 2005)
Time Asia recommends Marlborough’s Old St Mary’s Convent,
Wanganui’s Bridge to Nowhere
lodge, and The Station in
Paekakariki to readers wishing to stay off the beaten track. “There's plenty
of the country's dreamscape left for those who want wide-screen scenery but
don't care for Middle Earth hype.”
(29 March 2004)
King of the castle
The Return of the King has ruled them all at this year's awards season,
having won Oscar glory with 11 Oscars,
including Best Picture and Best Director. The final film in the Lord
of the Rings trilogy won 4 awards at the
Globes (Best Movie Drama, Director, Original Score, and Movie Song), 4 at
Critics Choice Awards (Best Film, Director, Score, and Ensemble Cast), 5 Baftas
(Best Film, Best Cinematography, Adapted Screenplay, Special Effects, and Film
of the Year), and the
Producers Guild of America's (PGA) Darryl F. Zanuck
Award for Theatrical Motion Picture. Peter Jackson received the
award at the Santa Barbara Film Festival and became the first filmmaker in
history to be nominated for the prestigious
Directors Guild of America
(DGA) award three years in a row.
Kia ora fellows
For the international family of actors, surfing at Lyall Bay, brunching at
Chocolate Fish Cafe, the Wellington premiere was thankgiving for the city and
people who have embraced them as locals during the epic shoot. Viggo Mortensen,
a barefoot Cuba St regular, opened a photo exhibition
of his work at
Wellington's City Art Gallery and was humbled by the parade: "I keep
hearing a voice in my head saying 'remember this, remember this'." Elijah
Wood: "Four years of my life, and now here in Wellington for the last
premiere, it's pretty extraordinary." Hugo Weaving (Elrond): "I love
working here so much. I secretly switched allegiance to supporting the Kiwis in
the World Cup". The whanau leaves Wellington airport
Praise the lord
Peter Jackson: "'He's as cool as an elf, he has
the heart of a hobbit, and he's as mad as a wizard.' That's the awestruck opinion of
Lord Of The Rings star Orlando Bloom [wearing a huffer
t-shirt, above left with Liv Tyler] on a man who has "more prestige than any director in
Hollywood". Actor John (Gimli) Rhys-Davies claims PJ has done more for NZ
than Captain Cook! An
Observer story entitled 'King
Kiwi' backs up the view of Jackson as
Hollywood's most powerful black sheep: "He
has never felt the pull of California and now the studios bosses who probably
once struggled to find NZ on a map are beating a path to his door. It is a stark
measure of how the stout Jackson, who wears shorts without shoes as routinely as
a suit, is not merely the most powerful man outside Hollywood. He is more
powerful than almost anyone inside it too. It is as if his lifelong vow to stand
his ground on home turf has earned him an authority denied those breathlessly
pursuing the rat race."
(01 December 2003)
Weta's secrets revealed
Te Papa's record-breaking Lord
of the Rings exhibition opens at London's Science Museum in September - it's
only European showing before travelling to Singapore, Sydney, and Boston. The
exhibition focuses on Weta Digital's FX wizardry and includes interactive
technology, life size models, and behind-the-scenes transformations. Says museum
head, Jon Tucker, "We think this exhibition will be absolutely huge, and
fans will be flocking to see it."
(7 July 2003)
Winning-over Delhi bellies
The Taj Palace Hotel in Delhi held a NZ food festival in honour of The Two
Towers' Indian release. The event, organised by the NZ Trade Commission, aimed
to win the hearts of business visitors and tourists by appealing to their
stomachs - a tried and true technique.
(16 March 2003)
Jackson fan club continued…
Michael Scragow, former staff writer for The New Yorker and Rolling
Stone, airs his opinions on this year's Oscars. "I am just floored that
Peter Jackson was not nominated for best director … I don't think there has
been a fantasy film in movie history as faultlessly acted, as magnificent in its
scope and invention, and as enthralling in its narrative drive as I'm sure the Lord
of the Rings trilogy will turn out to be."
(22 March 2003)
Gollum and his maker are to share
star-billing at the University of Teesside's annual animation festival. Weta Digital's lead animator, Jason
Schleifer, will be on hand to deliver a series of lectures and workshops.
(28 January 2003)
Pick of the critics
Peter Jackson has received a nomination for best director from the London Film
Critics Circle for his work on Lord of the Rings. The prestigious awards
are chosen by London reviewers and are to be presented February 12. Jackson is
up against Pedro Almodavar and Australia's Philip Noyce.
(4 January 2003)
Jackson: Hobbit or
Globe: "Who would have guessed that it would take a woolly bear
horror-flick director from New Zealand to restore our faith in epic
moviemaking?" Praise for Peter Jackson reaches epic proportions of its own
in the wake of The Two Towers' release. The
Age: "To sustain the illusion of the lost world of Middle-earth
[…] requires generalship, vision, and magical skill - the qualities of a
master sorcerer." Sydney Morning Herald dubs Jackson "man of
the year" for "[eclipsing] Spielberg and Lucas without leaving
(29 December 2002)
Middle Earth "with a much more gritty kind of edge to it"
Time cover story on "wizardly director" Peter Jackson's The Two
Towers release, detailing the genesis of the trilogy and "the Kiwi
George Lucas" Jackson's desire to
build an edge based film-making fortress of his own: "ever since I was a kid dreaming about being a
filmmaker, I've never imagined going to Hollywood." On Two Towers:
"[it] definitely isn't as cute [as Fellowship]. It has a much more
gritty kind of edge to it." A concurrent essay ponders
the cultural significance of Two Towers for an America, in a time of
uncertainty, looking back to the fantasy genre for solace and moral clarity.
Check out Costa Boates' fascinating nzedge
profile of Jackson.
(02 December 2002)
Tyler no diva
Liv Tyler talks to The Scotsman about making movies Middle
Earth-style. "It was a labour of love for everyone. There weren't a lot of
perks. We didn't have these huge trailers and all these excessive things. It was
really kind of down and dirty in that way." Tyler had no qualms about
roughing it: "[Making the trilogy] was one of the most amazing things
that's ever happened to me […] I still can't quite believe I'm a part of
(30 November 2002)
They'll need a nui kete: The technical and creative talent of the NZ film
industry acknowledged with Oscars. The Andrew Adamson directed Shrek
takes best animated feature. Peter Jackson's first installment in the Lord of
the Rings trilogy secures the largest-equal
haul of the night to take four Oscars: for make-up, visual effects,
cinematography and best musical score, but misses out on the best film and
(25 March 2002)
Best Supporting Landmass
Tourists lured by LotR: "Too bad they don't give Oscars for
'best supporting landmass'. If they did New Zealand's role in Lord of the
Rings would have swept that award", reports travel editor Anne Chalfant
in a 3 page NZ feature in San Francisco's Bay Area Daily. And in The
Guardian more Tolkien facsimile: "These are islands where the earth
still spits boiling water and mud, with the volcanic plateau in the central
North Island becoming Tolkien's fiery Mt Doom, peaceful pastoral Matamata in a
starring role as Hobbiton and the majestic fiords of the deep South standing in
for the Misty Mountains."
(30 March 2002)
King of the Rings
"New Zealand has always
reserved its greatest adulation for sporting giants like Richard Hadlee and
Jonah Lomu, but a place must now be found on the victory dais for director Peter
Jackson [...] What elevates him to hero status is his success in persuading the
Hollywood backers (of Lord of the Rings), New Line Cinema, to film the
NZ$650 million project in New Zealand, a country many Americans would have
trouble locating on the global map".
(24 February 2002)
Movie of the year
"The most heartbreaking thing about faithful movie-going is that awe,
beauty and excitement, three of the things we go to the movies for, are the very
things we're cheated out of the most. The great wonder of Lord of the Rings
is that it baths us in all three....It would be an insult to say the picture
merely lives up to its hype; it crashes the meaning of hype ... advertising is
dead: Long live moviemaking!".
(01 January 2002)
"Trust me: it is
"At the end of this first film, Frodo and Sam are separated from the rest
and row across the river, destination Mount Doom: on even a scratchy video,
Elijah Wood and Sean Astin are heart-breaking and couldn't be better.
Trust me: it is magnificent." - Sir Ian McKellan on the wizardry of The
Lord of the Rings.
(20 July 2001)
it at Cannes
Which was hotter - the Rings preview or the bash after? Twenty minutes
of Rings footage had seasoned critics standing to applaud; the
party, complete with sets shipped from New Zealand, was the one ticket no-one
could bear to miss. Check out the official site for Cannes footage and photos.
Maybe it was all the fresh air and vigerous activity? Cate Blanchett says
"working on the Lord of the Rings trilogy in New Zealand made her feel
(23 January 2001)
First Baggins off the rack
"The most ambitious undertaking in the film world recently has
been Peter Jackson's filming of the Lord of the Rings trilogy in New
Zealand. If the results are as epic as the production, the first Baggins off the
rank, The Fellowship of the Ring, will be worth the wait until next
(9 January 2001)
Escape from Middle Earth
With a $100 000 budget and all the glamour Wellington could muster, the Rings wrap party was like
"something straight out of Tolkien".
(23 December 2000)
Foot Six and still growing
Vanity Fair estimates the cost of Lord of the Rings at NZ$623 million. If correct, Wellington company Three Foot Six is
producing the second-most expensive movie ever.
(27 October 2000)
"In a nondescript suburb
of New Zealand's capital, the team at Weta
Digital, an offshoot of Peter Jackson's Wingnut Films, is producing more
than 1,200 visual effect shots for the three Lord of the Rings films.
These purveyors of state-of-the-art film ingredients have as neighbour a
battered-looking old ice cream factory. But turn up the side road hill and a new
building announces that here, past the security, some extraordinary people are
producing what fans hope will be some extraordinary images."
(12 September 2000)
In the The Grey Book, acclaimed actor Sir Ian McKellen's
diary of the Lord of the Rings film shoot, McKellen raves about
the scenery: "New Zealand would amaze and enrapture anyone who responds to
the wild landscapes of Middle-earth." And gets a little tookish
yearning for the South Island: "I spy the interisland (fast) ferry chugging
past my Wellington window for the sail across the Cook Strait which separates
the islands. I envy the passengers."
(8 August 2000)
"It'll make Star Wars look like a weekend in the
Ian Holm, the British actor who plays Bilbo Baggins, oozes enthusiasm about
Peter Jackson's big-budget adaptation of the Lord of the Rings. "There
are 130 special effects people and it's brilliant, absolutely brilliant."
(15 July 2000)
An Insider's guide to Lord of the Rings
Bilbo's Buzz gets bigger: "Everything about Peter Jackson's Lord
of the Rings project is big. The stars, the buzz, the expectations -
and E! Online's exclusive coverage on the making of the trilogy. Our
monthly reports from New Zealand take you behind the scenes of the next big
Forget about the brass ring, The Lord of the
Rings looks like pure gold
Some 1.7 million fans hit the movie's new website in its first 21 hours up,
compared with only 1 million downloads the first day the Star
Wars: The Phantom Menace site was open for business.
(13 April 2000)
Tolkien Teaser Runs Rings around Phantom Menace
"Attention fantasy fans: New Line Cinema is about to lift the veil of
secrecy just a little bit that has shrouded Peter Jackson's massive
adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings since production on
the three-film epic began last October. "
(6 April 2000)
Phantom Menace humbled by diminutive Hobbit
The record number of downloads set by the trailer for Star Wars Episode
1: The Phantom Menace, has been dwarfed by the the Internet preview of of
Peter Jackson's epic movie trilogy The Lord of the Rings, which was
downloaded almost 1.7 million times in the first 24 hours when it became
available this month.
(29 April 2000)
Notes from Ian McKellen
"What a congenial country New Zealand is for visitors from what used to
be called "the home country ... It all seems half-familiar with a style of
friendliness that is a change from English reserve. I feel very much at
home". (McKellen is currently in New Zealand playing Gandalf in The Lord
of the Rings).
(25 January 2000)
A study of Peter Jackson’s LotR trilogy by the University of Wales has
been extended due to an unexpectedly large public response. More than 25,000
people from all over the world have completed the online questionnaire, which
centres on the question, ‘Where, in your imagination, is Middle Earth?’
(24 August 2004)
Return of the King - the third and final film in Peter Jackson's Lord of the
Rings series - made a clean sweep of the 2004 Academy Awards, winning 11 Oscars
including Best Picture and Director. It is the only film ever to win in every category for which it
The total number of awards won brings it level with record-holders Ben Hur
(1960) and Titanic (1998). Said an
Jackson, "I'm so honoured, touched and relieved that the members of the
Academy have supported us, that they've seen past the trolls, wizards and
hobbits (by) recognizing fantasy this year. Fantasy is an F-word that hopefully
the five-second delay won't do anything with." The number of Kiwi accents
on stage prompted host Billy Crystal to quip, "It is now official: There is
nobody left in New Zealand to thank … You know people are moving to New
Zealand, just to be thanked."
(1 March 2004)
Would the real Middle Earth please stand up?
"Tolkien may have intended The
Lord of the Rings as an epic myth for England, but even he would
acknowledge ... that the world of Middle-earth and the tiny nation of NZ had
become inextricably and intimately intertwined." A lengthy Age feature
sums up the impact the LotR phenomenon has had - and continues to have -
on NZ national identity. "With the NZ landscape being as big a character as
Frodo, the films have become symbols of national pride, have seeped so deeply
into the national psyche that the premiere felt more like a celebration of
global conquest than the opening of a movie ...
More than a filmmaker, a
national hero - again with the aura of a victorious general freshly returned
from battle - Peter Jackson has become so associated with the Lord of the
Rings that he almost shares authorship with Tolkien ...
Jackson and the other producers of the
Rings trilogy have created a new high-water mark in intelligent marketing
with the way they have maintained the Lord of the Rings brand name over
three years in an overcrowded movie market."
(27 December 2003)
More glowing PJ praise
Morning Herald awestruck by the premiere, wonders how PJ managed to pull
off "the trilogy of a lifetime" Operatic high praise from The
New Yorker who credits the trilogy with reviving "the art of
romantic wonder." The
is just about the most famous man in NZ history and his films have the
distinction of having been declared the semi-official standard bearer of
national pride ... And after the world premiere of the final episode, Return
Of The King ... they are all but inventing a new haka for him."
(1 December 2003)
Two LA Times features look at the phenomenal success of Peter
Jackson's Miramar-based empire; Weta Digital, Weta Workshop, and the Film Unit.
The challenge meeting Jackson's business is keeping the
world-class staff he amassed for the now completed LotR trilogy busy
enough to resist the temptation of the US dollar until work begins on Jackson's King Kong in 2005.
The lord rests
in a NYT interview, but no
break for PJ. The
man himself is portrayed in the features as "in
many ways ... following in the footsteps of Star Wars creator
George Lucas, the only other director to establish his domain outside of
Hollywood and have a lasting effect. The development of Jackson's production
power is a reflection of the Hollywood rebel. Friends describe him as focused
and fiercely loyal, an iconoclast with a love-hate relationship with Tinseltown."
(23 November 2003)
That'll be 2 Gandalfs and a Bilbo, thanks
A series of Lord of the Rings
collectors' coins will be legal tender in NZ by 2004. The gold, silver and
cupro-nickel coins are to be struck by the Royal Mint for NZ Post later this
(11 June 2003)
In the footsteps of Frodo
The inevitable spate of Rings-related
travel articles continues, with major features in the Scotsman and
New York Times. The Scotsman writer - who walked the Tongariro
Crossing and Routeburn Track, and sailed Milford Sound - "left with an almost
reverent love for landscape that I saw ...
Put simply NZ is the most
beautiful place in the world that I have visited or expect to visit in my life."
The Times explores
Rings tours on offer; the Trilogy Trail, Red Carpet Lord of the
Rings, and Anywhere-Anytime Tours.
Voters under Ring's influence
The Lord of the Rings trilogy was voted second most influential movie/s
of the last 75 years in a poll for BBC News Online, ahead of Citizen
Kane, the Godfather series and 2001: A Space Odyssey. First
place went to George Lucas' Star Wars series.
(22 March 2003)
The Lord of the Rings trilogy was voted second most influential movie/s
of the last 75 years in a poll for BBC News Online, ahead of Citizen
Kane, the Godfather series and 2001: A Space Odyssey. First
place went to George Lucas' Star Wars series.
(22 March 2003)
Air New Zealand has launched its
second "hobbit plane" with a maiden voyage to Los Angeles. The
fuselage features Rings characters Aragorn and Arwen, as well as picturesque NZ
scenery, in a canny marketing partnership with New Line Cinema. The "Frodo
and Sam" plane was unveiled in December.
(25 January 2003)
Couch potato paradise
Fellowship of the Ring wins "hands down" the best DVD of 2002
according to a New York Times review. "A movie of 208 minutes takes
some tall explaining, but here we develop sympathy for the notion that extra
length is sometimes more tolerable at home, where viewing is more relaxed, than
in a theatre."
(3 January 2003)
The Two Towers has
set new box-office records around the globe, breaking those set by its
predecessor last year. The film made $5.2 million on its first day of release in
Australia, and £13.1
million over its initial five days' screening in the UK. The Two Towers
also broke opening day records in Germany, Scandinavia and, of course, NZ.
(28 December 2002)
Lord of FX
Wired profiles Stephen Regelous, the Wellingtonian behind The Two
Towers' jaw-dropping battle scenes. Regelous created a program - Massive -
which would supply "smart crowds" to supplement the on-screen action.
Each agent has an individual brain, with thousands of different modes of being.
"When an animator places agents into a simulation, they're released to do
what they will. It's not crowd control but anarchy." The results have been
so successful that even Regelous "can't tell what's Massive and what's not
(13 December 2002)
An Air NZ Boeing 747 has become the latest (and largest) Lord of the Rings
billboard. The plane sports a 36m image of the hobbit leads down either side of
its fuselage. The advertising is part of a two year promotional deal with New
Line Cinema, plugging Air NZ as "airline to the Middle Earth."
(14 December 2002)
Lord of the travel agents
It is official: NZ is the most popular long-haul destination for Britons. From
January to June, a record 228,000 British travelers visited - 8.9% more than in
2001. The Guardian puts the increase down to the "Hobbit
effect" and expects next month's America's Cup to have similar impact.
(14 September 2002)
Tower de force
Pictures from Two Towers, the second instalment of Lord of
the Rings, can be viewed in this Sun Online special.
Sir Ian swoons for our free land
Sir Ian McKellen: "I fell for New Zealand rather
heavily. It's not just the environment, though that does do something to your
head...it's discovering the culture, one which is extremely relaxed and
as Best Supporting
Actor nominee Sir Ian draws attention
in the style stakes for his pounamu pendant.
(25 March 2002)
Bafta - Remembered Gold
Lord of the Rings is ready to cast its spell on the Oscars after
bewitching the Baftas with five awards, including best film and best director,
for Peter Jackson: "I wanted to make films ever since I was 10 years old
and I used to watch the Baftas on TV, but I never thought I'd get one". Guardian's
Peter Bradshaw on LotR: "Peter Jackson's dashing and supremely competent
orchestration of the humid fantasy extravaganza was clearly deserving of
acclaim." Meanwhile Crowe wins Bafta Best Actor: "I love my job and I
don't think I do it that well - but keep on disagreeing with me".
(24 February 2002)
Middle Earth homestay
"I just want to stay in NZ making my stuff." PJ
interviewed by PBS's Charlie Rose. Listen to the interview here
for a fascinating conversation as Peter Jackson talks candid camera for an in-depth hour
about the LotR experience. Extensive BBC
Film coverage of the Rings' Circus, including PJ on why he choose to film
the trilogy in NZ. And Japan
Times asks a question intended for Frodo and Boromir, but one as relevant
for New Zealand on the Edge? "Is it possible to defeat the evil without, while not succumbing to the
Lord of the Screen
"The Lord of the
Rings is easily the
best film of the year" - The
Times. "Peter Jackson's adaptation of the fantasy classic is as near to
perfection as makes no difference" - The
Mail. "Don't go see your film of the Lord of the Rings, see Peter
Jackson's. Its better than than one in your head" - The
Sun. Check out the Eonline
site for a comprehensive summary of critical reviews, including
those of industry heavyweights Entertainment
Weekly and The New York
(17 December 2001)
The Land of the Rings
"The first thing I thought when Peter showed me
the pictures of the locations in New Zealand was: this is Middle-earth,"
says Elijah Woods. "I mean, it has every sort of geographical, geological
formation and landscape; its got everything. So, it's absolutely perfect." USA
Today agrees, as does The
Independent, while Metromix
gives a location by location account of how NZ was transformed into
(12 December 2001)
"Oscar is no great fan of fantasy. But the Lord
of the Rings, with such Oscar heavyweights as Ian McKellen and Ian Holm, may
carry enough high-class baggage to over come that prejudice".
(13 December 2001)
Kiwi film guru Peter Jackson is in Empire Magazine's poll
of the top 50 directors.
of the Spin-Offs
"The adventures of Frodo Baggins and Gandalf the wizard are proving
so lucrative to HarperCollins that, without spending a penny on promotion
or marketing, they have seen sales of the books soar by 400 per cent in
a single year."
(8 September 2001)
It’s awesome,” enthuses Middle Earth's biggest small man, Elijah Wood about
upcoming Lord of the Rings. “It’s a really, really incredible group
of people and a very brilliant, talented group of artists who were massively,
massively passionate about what they were there in New Zealand for."
(20 July 2001)
Rings actors awestruck
"It seems that those involved are only starting to realise just how big a
movie project with which they have been involved. The actors were awe-struck by
look of the movie and the spectacular visual effects created by New Zealand's
(20 May 2001)
'I've never met or worked with a director with a more comprehensive artillery of
qualities for a big project like this than Peter Jackson. Someone should give
him a medal pretty damn quickly" - John Rhys-Davies (Gimli).
(20 February 2001)
"I'm so excited to be doing all three movies,'' says
thrilling. I wanted this project so badly. We're talking Peter Jackson. And
Tolkien - my God! That man, Tolkien, created a whole language. He created a
world within a world. He created Middle Earth. I think The Lord of the Rings
is a historic project.''
(8 January 2001)
Rings V Potter
"If the budget on Lord of the Rings is sky-high, so are expectations
surrounding the films. Fans of Tolkien's 1,000-page trilogy about hobbits and
elves in the fantasy land called Middle Earth are truly devoted. The films,
then, will have to be good to merit comparison. On paper, at least, they look
(6 January 2001)
It's a wrap
Lord of the Rings is due to wrap three days before
Christmas, right on schedule. Director Peter Jackson notes the authenticity
index has climbed during filming: way back at the beginning we thought there
was quite a bit of this we are going to have to alter or change, but we've gone further and further back to the
(14 November 2000)
Hobbits boost the local carpentry trade: "They
begun construction of a new Hollywood sign yet on the steep hills that encircle
New Zealand`s capital city of Wellington,
but it would
not be surprising if they did. Wellington is hometown to Peter
Jackson, the writer, director and producer of the mega-Middle Earth trilogy the Lord
of the Rings."
(18 July 2000)
Cate's Elvish Ways: standing up for the sisters in Lord of the Rings
Cate Blanchett, playing the role of the enigmatic and beautiful elf queen
Gandriel in Lord of the Rings, found a unique way of keeping up with the
lads on set - she wore platform gold boots. She talks to E! Online about the
spiritual power of the 'White Lady', the difficulty of mastering the Elvish
dialect as well as her admiration for the talent of Peter Jackson.
(5 July 2000)
Bean says Boromir no gamble in Lord of the Rings
Sean Bean has trodden the tightrope between Hollywood Bond villain and small
budget independent movies enough times to know that the movie world has its ups
and downs, but he says "it's definitely worth the risk" to be involved
in the biggest, longest, most expensive piece of Hollywood risk taking in
history. Bean plays the role of Boromir for "the demanding and incredibly
talented Peter Jackson."
(16 July 2000)
"Only a filmmaker as unique and bold as New Zealander Peter Jackson could
even think of pulling off this project".
The Sydney Morning Heralds Stephen Turner checks out the nets
obsession with two huge movies Lord of the Rings and X-Men.
(15 April 2000)
Jackson gets the youth vote
The Return of the King won the
coveted prize for Best Film at this year's MTV Awards in LA. Other big winners
were Pirates of the Caribbean and Kill Bill Vol.1.
(7 June 2004)
Just in case you missed that one..
The Return of the King picked up
yet another prize en route to the Oscars; Best International Film at the
inaugural Directors Guild of Great Britain awards.
(22 February 2004)
Under Gollum's skin
The latest must-have for LotR
enthusiasts is Gollum: How We Made Movie Magic. Written by Andy Serkis –
who played Gollum in the trilogy – the book includes extracts by Peter Jackson,
Fran Walsh, and several of the animators who helped bring the character to life.
“It's like my diary of the past four years, which was such an unusual journey,”
says Serkis. “I was the strand that held Gollum together, the emotional strand.
But the animators, directors, they were the pearls.”
(20 January 2004)
"New Zealand has had a day like
no other". The world premiere of The Return of the King in Wellington outshone all
expectations, with a 100,000+ crowd lining the route of the spectacular
grand parade in glorious Wellington sunshine. Actor Sean Astin described the event as "a moment of great
national pride ... it feels like a little bit of history here." Massive
world-wide coverage confirmed the hype:
Francisco Chronicle ... The
Scotsman proclaimed "Forget Hollywood. Welcome to Wellywood, the new
film capital of the world." A
Morning Herald feature perfectly captured the magnitude of the trilogy
in terms of propelling NZ onto a world stage: "The work that was put together to make Gollum or to do the orcs
or to do the big military scenes is simply the world's best ..." Of all the industries
brushed by Rings magic - from post-production houses to fabric producers
- tourism has benefited the most; NZ's $6 billion tourism industry is expected
to overtake dairy as the nation's largest export earner next year. For the man
at the helm, Peter Jackson, the premiere was stunning affirmation as Wellington
turned on the crowd and a perfect wind-less day. Even the usually sober Economist falls
under the spell: "Wellington's film-makers are enjoying their
close-up." PJ: "I'm feeling incredibly humbled by this wonderful
(01 December 2003)
Lord of PR
Pete Hodgson - AKA 'Minister of the
Rings' - dubbed "the most intelligent politician I have ever met" by National
Post journalist, Cleo Paskal, in her article on the government-supported
LotR publicity machine. "It is his job to 'maximize the opportunities
to NZ from the Lord of the Rings film project.' And he has done a very
good job ...
goal was to use the films as nearly 10 hours of product placement for NZ's
tourism, technology and film industries. It was an unprecedented, ambitious and
innovative idea - much like the film itself."
(27 December 2003)
LotR fans from Japan to
Canada have been lining up to sponsor seats at Wellington’s Embassy Theatre,
currently being refurbished in preparation for the world premiere of The
Return of the King. 613 of the 748 seats up for grabs have already been
purchased, with prices ranging up to $1,104.
Rings-fever is clearly running high in Wellington. As a
Toronto Star feature notes, “While Christmas trees have already gone up
in the department stores, it's a different Lord on everybody's mind. In the
capital of New Zealand the halls, streets and storefronts are decked with
Lord of the Rings decorations … Christmas is going to have to work hard this
year to top the LotR frenzy.”
(6 October 2003)
Rings exhibition lord of museum toll-gates
of the Rings
exhibition opened at London’s Science Museum in September, and has
already proven to be the most successful show in the institution’s history.
Developed and presented by Te Papa, over 14,000 advance tickets were sold prior
to the public opening of the show that looks behind the scenes at the technical
and artistic achievement underpinning the trilogy. Master of effects, Richard
Taylor: “Without a doubt it was the biggest challenge of my career […] This
will be watched by grandparents with grandchildren on their knees 60 years from
(15 September 2003)
A new kind of filmmaking: blockbuster with brains
the release of Return of the King, NYT film critic Elvis Mitchell
singles out the breezy braininess of Peter Jackson's craft for exemplary praise:
"Mr. Jackson has been carefully applying layers of emotional density,
perpetually adding new characters and surprising narrative twists and turns.
He's been so intelligent about these shifts that he's bound to find a way to
resolve them all in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the
King. With his embrace of classical storytelling, and the driving impatience
that compels audiences to keep up with him, Mr. Jackson has created a new kind
of big-budget filmmaking. Let's hope others follow in his footsteps. [...] It's
a nonsentimental education that studios, and George Lucas, would do well to
(9 September 2003)
"The real Middle Earth" features in the annual BBC round-up of
new additions to the media lexicon. The official definition: "The country
formerly known as New Zealand. An NZ government minister has been appointed
unofficial 'minister for Middle Earth' to ensure the country capitalises on its
(1 January 2003)
Rings wins double at Saturns
Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings:
The Two Towers was a multiple winner at the 29th annual Saturn Awards - a
joint presentation of the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films
and Mania Entertainment's Cinescape magazine. Two Towers was
judged best fantasy film and Andy Serkis (Gollum) best supporting actor.
(21 May 2003)
Audience award for Two Towers
The Two Towers picked up three BAFTAs,
including the audience-voted Orange Film of the Year. The other two awards were
for costume design and achievement in special visual effects. The Two Towers also
won Best Original Score at the American Grammy awards.
(23 February 2003)
FX to rule them all
The Two Towers cleaned up at the Visual
Effects Society awards in L.A, winning 8 of the 9 categories for which it
was nominated. Towers streaked ahead of Star Wars: Episode II to
win awards for special effects, effects art direction, visual effects
photography, models and miniatures, performance by an actor in an effects film,
character animation in a live-action motion picture, compositing and visual
effects in an effects-driven motion picture.
(21 February 2003)
"A little madness helps"
In an NYT essay Peter Jackson describes the 14 months it took to film
the Rings trilogy as a "protracted bout of willful madness [...]
with seven units shooting multiple elements simultaneously for the three
different movies ... Fate, hard work, good will and yes - madness - saw us
through". The singular vision is paying well-deserved dividends.
(16 December 2002)
Ringing its praises
"A rare perfect mating of filmmaker and material" (NY Times). The
Two Towers has been released with a series of glitzy premieres and press
reviews which more than match the hype. Variety:
"It's hard to imagine a much better version of this material on
"It is a film that never lets the audience down, it touches you emotionally
and it makes you think." Guardian:
"The battles and sieges are conducted with the ferocity of the Crusades,
Agincourt and Stalingrad." The
Sun: "For the entire two hours and 59 minutes, the only thing that
mattered in my life was a plain gold ring round the neck of a short guy with
pointed ears and hairy feet."
Edge People of Middle Earth
"[LOTR], for all its knockout grandeur, is but the trailer, the
preview of the country. NZ doesn't need to be digitally enhanced. It has an
orchestra replete with special effects all of its own." Headlining feature
on NZ marvels at the diversity and splendour of the landscape. The drive from
Christchurch to Southland is for writer Clive Irving a surreal journey through "the world in one country." The
people impress as well as the places. He writes: "It is,
literally, the jumping-off point for what I will henceforth call the Edge People
- all those who can't wait to leap off the edge of the earth in as many ways
for those lamenting that
the southern cross didn't shine brighter on Hollywood's star spangled banner:
"A Beautiful Mind was a Good Film. Not a brilliant film. If
Peter Jackson had directed it, it might have been a revelation." The
Guardian's Xan Brooks describes the predictable best pic/director
trump as comfort
food. And Best Supporting
Actor nominee Ian McKellen draws attention in the style stakes for his pounamu
(25 March 2002)
Are you looking at us?
PJ helmed, NZ-made Lord of the Rings...Russell Crowe in Beautiful
Mind...Andrew Adamson co-directed Shrek. The Oscars go antipodean as
the edge gives Hollywood a prod in tandem with a strong Australian presence. LotR
is front-running, gaining 13
nominations. "The hit movie was made in New Zealand and has given the
country its highest profile in the film world for years". Jackson: "The awards are a
by-product, they are not the reason you make a film. But I'm thrilled that so
many Kiwis have been nominated."
(13 February 2002)
Gilding the director
Peter Jackson is nominated for the Best Director award as judged by the
Directors Guild Association. Jackson, however, doesn't seem very interested in
taking home any coveted gold trophies: "Its the icing on the cake. Every
day in NZ people send us letters...that is the best, to feel the audiences are
being entertained. Its not really about awards".
(23 January 2002)
Top honours and front-runner
The Lord of the Rings wins Best Picture, Best Digital Effects, and
Best Production Design at the American Film Institute Awards. Closer to home,
Peter Jackson is named Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, alongside
his partner, scriptwriter Fran Walsh. And Lord of the Rings storms the
BAFTA (Brit Oscar) nominations
with PJ leading the way and sharing a best film nomination with Andrew
Where can Jackson go from here? If anyone wants
Citizen Kane remade, here is the man
"Potter was made by a committee masquerading as a director. Rings
is made by a genius masquerading as a normal human being....it takes a scapegrace to
deliver true grace, as it has always taken artistic outlaws to rewrite the laws of art."- Financial
(13 December 2001)
All that is golden...
The Lord of the Rings (the book) - boyish fantasy or "true
myth" that is a modern masterpiece?
(4 June 2001)
Dead oliphants at Plimmerton, hobbit cities and epic battles: just the
beginning for "Wellywood".
(21 May 2001)
In the can
"I can shut my eyes and imagine the movie playing in my head," says
Peter Jackson, spilling the exhaustion and elation of moving from filming to
Lord of the Rings producers have played it cool with net
marketing - giving
away photos and info titbits to keep the fans keen. The redesigned Rings site
has already clocked over 41 million hits, while teaser
trailers pull in cinema crowds.
(23 January 2001)
Change your life
Get prepared for Rings-mania: Brush up on your Tolkien makes number 16 on the
list of 99 ways to change your life.
(7 January 2001)
In the pink of elf
"Cate Blanchett is looking particularly ethereal...perhaps it's just a
little leftover glow from the four months spent in New Zealand playing the Lady
(26 December 2000)
Praise for the "Dark
Vision" of Jacksons Middle Earth
The Sydney Morning
Herald discusses the huge Lord of the Rings phenomenon, and lauds director Peter
Jacksons ability to create fantasy on film. "His calling card is Heavenly
Creatures, a remarkable 1994, Jackson suggested the kind of alchemical powers and visionary technique
that will be necessary to make compelling cinema out of Tolkien's long-winded
(26 August 2000)
Bilbo buzz spawns rumour about a hoard of treasure
The Lord of the Rings folklore continues to spread. Fox chroniciles the
Ring rage: the record breaking previews, websites, esoteric and precious fans,
mammoth investment and eager anticipation that the project has spawned. "To
outpace Star Wars by such a large margin is a great indication of the popularity
of this franchise."
(7 July 2000)
Gandalf: Lord of the Seas
Sir Ian McKellen takes a break on Auckland Harbour from playing the
wise wizard Gandalf in the 16 month long shoot of Peter Jackson's Lord
of the Rings. He is immersing himself in the NZ/Middle Earth
edge experience, "... this is the biggest film ever made, in terms of
logistics and technology ... and they're happening in New Zealand, away
from any sense that there's a world outside Middle Earth".
(6 June 2000)