UK & World News
The Hobbit Set To Be Unveiled In New Zealand
As New Zealand prepares for the world premiere of The Hobbit, fans have been reminded how the movie almost ended up being made in the UK.
"The Hobbit did come very close to not being filmed here," director Peter Jackson told Radio New Zealand, referring to a trade union dispute.
"The worst time for me was when a huge box arrived in the office. This large cardboard box arrived and they had sent a location scout around England and Scotland to take photographs.
"They literally had the Hobbit script broken down into scenes, and in each scene there were pictures of the Scottish Highlands and England and this and that to convince us we could easily go over there to shoot the film."
In the event, the dispute was settled when New Zealand's conservative government amended labour laws to minimise union representation on set, also offering financial incentives to keep the production in the country.
"It was not the happiest time for anyone," Jackson said.
The production was at the centre of another controversy last week when an animal rights group said more than 20 animals, including horses, pigs and chickens, had been killed during the making of the film.
Jackson said some animals used in the film died on the farm where they were being housed, but none had been hurt during filming.
Despite its problems, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey makes its global debut in Wellington on Wednesday.
Up to 100,000 people are expected to turn up to the event to see stars such as Martin Freeman, who plays a young Bilbo Baggins, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett and Elijah Wood on the red carpet.
Wellington, where Jackson and much of the post production is based, has renamed itself "the Middle of Middle-earth", as fans held costume parties and city workers prepared to lay 500m of red carpet.
The three Hobbit movies are based on JRR Tolkien's book and tell the story that leads up to his epic fantasy The Lord Of the Rings, which Jackson made into three Oscar-winning films about 10 years ago.
The Hobbit trilogy is set 60 years before The Lord Of The Rings and was originally planned as only two movies before it was decided that there was enough material to justify a third.
"It's been a 10-year wait for these movies, New Zealand is Tolkien's spiritual home, so there's no way we're going to miss out," said office worker Alan Craig, a self-confessed Lord Of The Rings "nut".
The films are notable for being the first to be shot at 48 frames per second (fps), compared with the 24 fps that has been the industry standard since the 1920s.
While some people say the look is "too realistic" and "lacks warmth", Jackson likens the higher shooting rate to the introduction of compact discs, saying it was the way of the future for film.
"I personally think it's fantastic, but it's different," he said.
"I remember when CDs came in and there was a nostalgic feeling that the sound of a needle on vinyl was what music should sound like - suddenly you've got this pristine clarity and a lot of people were nay-saying it."
The second film, The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, will be released in December next year, with the third, The Hobbit: There And Back Again, is due in July 2014.