By Samantha Hayes
Sir Peter Jackson and the cast of The Hobbit gathered at the filmmaker's Wellington studios today to talk to the world's media about tomorrow's premiere.
Sir Peter said he felt sorry for those suffering Hobbit fatigue in the lead-up to the release of the film, and couldn't wait for people to be able to see it.
Writer director and producer Jackson says finally, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is finished.
“You don't really let go,” he says. “Somebody comes and drags it out of your hands and you're actually trying to clutch on to it as long as you can.”
But he says it's about time audiences got to see it for themselves, especially after the recent spate of negative press both here and overseas in the lead up to its release.
“I feel sorry for people,” he says. “They're getting whacked around the head with The Hobbit and they can't actually go and see the movie. So at the moment it's about the hype, not actually the movie. So I'll be relieved when December 12 rolls around and it can just be about the actual movie.”
The film is set 60 years before the Lord of the Rings and stars British actor Martin Freeman as the young Bilbo Baggins.
“Martin is a dream for a director,” says Sir Peter. “What Martin does, which I was totally fascinated with, is we'd shoot seven, eight, nine takes, and every one of them would be completely different.”
Co-stars Richard Armitage, who plays the dwarf prince Thorin Oakenshield, and Andy Serkis, who reprises his role as Gollum, say they'll never be the same after shooting a film like this.
“Filming the thing changed my life,” says Armitage. “Even if there was no film at the end of it, my life has changed [by] just coming to New Zealand, experiencing this place.”
“He [Gollum] has never really left me,” says Serkis. “He's always been lurking under my skin. He's never really left me.
Sir Peter is now a bit of a film star in his own right. But he says he can still be a regular Kiwi and pop off to the dairy to buy some Jaffas.
“If it's the dairy I’m absolutely fine, but if it's into Wellington then I know I'm going to be posing for photos with cell phones that never really work first time.”
The two-hour, 50-minute epic is just the first of three Hobbit films to be released over the next two years. Critics have called that indulgent, but Sir Peter says it was a case of now or never.
“This was the time to do it,” he says. “We're probably never going to be making another Tolkien film again. I'd never say never but I'd be surprised if we did.”
His fans wouldn't mind though.
3 News asked Sir Peter how he'll follow up his Tolkein legacy, what projects he'd like to do next, and he said he had no idea at this stage what the future held. But they would have to be films he would want to watch.
The big premiere is tomorrow afternoon. The stars will walk a 600m red carpet, and most will be seeing the film for the first time. Sir Richard Taylor, the head of Weta Workshop, told 3 News he hasn't seen the film in a state that's anywhere near finished. That's because he's a huge Tolkien fan and wants the same experience as others at the cinema.