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WingNut Films Announces Lord Of The Rings


24 August, 1998

A trilogy of feature films to be made in New Zealand
by Peter Jackson

(Wellington... August 25, 1998) Peter Jackson is to direct a NZ$260 million live action, special effects packed trilogy of feature films based on J.R.R. Tolkien's classic book THE LORD OF THE RINGS.

Jackson's production company WingNut Films will produce the film for US-based New Line Cinema with principal photography is set to commence in May 1999. The three movies will be shot back to back over a twelve month period.

Jackson has written the screenplays with long-time collaborators Fran Walsh ("The Frighteners", "Heavenly Creatures"), Stephen Sinclair ("BrainDead", "Meet The Feebles") and Philippa Boyens (ex-president of the NZ Writers' Guild).

Jackson and Walsh will also co-produce alongside Tim Sanders ("The Frighteners", "The Year of Living Dangerously"), while Academy Award-winning film legend Saul Zaentz ("The English Patient", "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest") serves as Executive Producer.

Jackson has been developing the project for over two years with Wellington-based special effects facility Weta Ltd., of which he is a partner, who will be responsible for the elaborate visual effects demanded of the epic. Weta Digital, under the guidance of effects producer Charlie McClellan, will be creating over 1200 computer effects shots while Richard Taylor of Weta Physical will supervise the design and construction of the creatures and miniatures.


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Internationally renowned Tolkien artists Alan Lee and John Howe have been based in Wellington since the beginning of the year, producing conceptual designs under Jackson's supervision. Grant Major ("The Frighteners", "Heavenly Creatures") will serve as Production Designer.

THE LORD OF THE RINGS will be shot entirely in New Zealand, with about half the schedule based at Camperdown Studios in Wellington and the remainder on location throughout the North and South islands.

"I can't think of a better country to represent Tolkien's world of Middle-earth on film," says Jackson. "From the Shire to Rivendell, the Misty Mountains or Mordor - it's all here at our doorstep."

Casting will be under-way before Christmas and will encompass talent from New Zealand, Australia, Britain and America. Regular-sized actors will be used to portray the hobbits who will then be reduced in size with computer effects.

"Shooting three feature films back-to-back has never been done before," says Tim Sanders. "It will certainly be the largest New Zealand feature film cast and crew ever assembled. We will have nearly 50 speaking roles available for Kiwi actors and about 300 full-time Kiwi crew. On top of that, we will need about 15,000 extras and a vast network of suppliers from equipment to hotels, from airlines to caterers."

"We will be asking the Government to support this project through co-operation with departments such as Conservation, for locations and so on," Sanders continues. "As we will be injecting over $200 million into the economy over the next couple of years, I'm sure the Government will see benefit in helping us achieve a phenomenal result. We can now stake our claim as an industry adept at both low budget, indigenous films and big budget, international blockbusters - which can only mean repeat business and a higher profile for New Zealand."

"It is my hope that THE LORD OF THE RINGS will raise the profile of film-making in the eyes of the New Zealand Government," says Jackson. "Successive governments have treated New Zealand film-making as a niche activity, to be indulged with a minimum of funding and support. Surely this project will demonstrate that a healthy New Zealand film industry has earning potential to rival any of our top industries."

New Line Cinema, which has also acquired the rights to Tolkien's "The Hobbit", expect to release the trilogy as a Christmas-summer-Christmas event series during the 2000-2001 calendar year.


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