Wellington Scoop

Master of all he surveys: a US report on the making of the Hobbit movies

Peter Jackson had to overcome many reservations and obstacles before occupying the director’s chair on The Hobbit films, writes the Hollywood Reporter in a lengthy article published today.

Among the challenges, says the influential US publication: competing against himself. The Lord of the Rings trilogy grossed nearly US$3 billion, and the final installment, 2003′s The Return of the King, swept up 11 Oscars, including best director and best picture.

The Reporter, which sent writer Kim Masters to Wellington to prepare the article, says:

If ever a wager on a project seemed like a safe bet, The Hobbit would be it. Otherwise, no studio would have found the will to tackle the enormous problems involved in getting these movies made. (Originally intended to be two, now there will be three.)

Not only was Jackson long unwilling to commit, but the rights to the material were bound in a decades-old Gordian knot. Getting it all sorted out involved epic battles matching any spectacle that Jackson previously had put on the screen — if you substitute executives and lawyers for elves and orcs.

The article describes how an army of filmmakers worked in New Zealand to bring J.R.R. Tolkien’s world back to life — on some 99 sets, with hundreds of props and truckloads of Russian hair, because, said Peter Jackson, “we felt a certain ownership over Middle Earth.”

The article also describes

the easygoing harbor city of Wellington, New Zealand, [where] the 50-year-old Jackson is the unassuming master of all he surveys. His empire is spread throughout the modest suburb of Miramar.


He lives on the far edge of the world, thousands of miles away from meddlesome studio executives, encircled by a group of longtime collaborators … This community might be a bit clannish, but the motives are pure. “They don’t seem corrupted even though they are power conscious,” says an executive who has worked with Jackson and his team. “They do love movies. They work around the clock.”

Read the Hollywood Reporter’s full report here

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