Next week sees the last, major genre film debut of the year with the release of THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY in glorious 3D and an innovative high frame-rate (HFR) projection system (advance word: bring Dramamine). The film marks the beginning of a new film franchise based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic tales of Middle Earth, but of course it isn’t the first time director Peter Jackson has visited the realm of elves, orcs, and humble, fun-loving hobbits. So while the film industry took this weekend to rally its strength by observing a moratorium in genre film debuts, Cinefantastique Online’s Steve Biodrowski, Lawrence French, and Dan Persons take a look back at the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, and weigh whether, a decade later, this is a world worth revisiting.
Plus: Dan gives his capsule verdict of BAD KIDS GO TO HELL, and what’s coming to theaters next week (can you guess?). SPECIAL FUN TECHNICAL NOTE: Did you know listening to podcasts in which the audio occasionally, randomly skips makes you more popular? It’s true! Find out for yourself by listening to this show, and just see how many New Years parties you’re invited to. (TRANSLATION: Our audio software screwed up. It doesn’t really mess up the show, but we apologize and will be better next week.)
Not only will Peter Jackson two film adaption of THE HOBBIT stay in New Zealand, the trouble over the production has lead to the government passing a new law to ensure that the situation does not arrise again.
According to Variety, the month-long fight and boycott by several actors’ unions against the film has led New Zealand’s parliament to pass what the press is calling the “Hobbit Law”. This ammendment to an existing Employment Relations Bill makes it law that “actors and other film production personnel hired as independent contractors can not subsequently claim to be employees.” This would prevent them to claiming additional rights and entitlements granted to regular employees.
The unions had called for an actors’ boycott of THE HOBBIT, beginning September 24th, against the already troubled production in order to pressure them into making a deal with NZ Equity that would have substantially changed arrangements. This lead to Jackson and Warner Brothers making serious plans to move the $500 Million project to another country.
Realizing the studio was in earnest, the boycott was lifted last week, amid counter protests by other film trade workers, but it seemed the damage had been done. It apparently took the intervention and assurances by New Zealand’s Prime Minster to convince Warner Brothers (now financing the project begun by New Line and the bankrupt MGM) to keep the production in the country.
Here’s a look at the announced cast for Peter Jackson’s THE HOBBIT. According to Time.Com, Martin Freeman (THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE UNIVERSE) will play the lead role of Bilbo Baggins.
The site quotes Peter Jackson as saying of Freeman: “He is intelligent, funny, surprising and brave — exactly like Bilbo, and I feel incredibly proud to be able to announce that he is our Hobbit.”
Richard Armitage, who played Guy of Gisbourne in the BBC’s ROBIN HOOD, will portray Thorin Oakenshield, leader of the dwarves.
Rounding out the fellowship, Aidan Turner (BEING HUMAN) will play Kili, Rob Kazinsky (EASTENDERS) Fili, Graham McTavish is set as Dwalin.
John Callen has the part of Oin, Stephen Hunter as Bombur, Mark Hadlow (MEET THE FEEBLES) cast in the role of Dori, and Peter Hambleton as Gloin. UPDATE: Sylvester McCoy (DOCTOR WHO) is due to sign as Radagast the Brown Wizard (via Bleeding Cool).
It’s assumed that Sir Ian McKellen is still signed to reprise his role of Gandalf the Grey from THE LORD OF THE RINGS in the new, two film J.R.R. Tolkien adaptation.
Negotiations between Warner Brothers (now financing THE HOBBIT) were to take place in New Zealand this week, to determine if the project will stay in the country or depart for another location after trouble with the actors union, NZ Equity regarding extras and related issues.
Will THE HOBBIT leave New Zealand for greener pastures in Europe? Tensions continue to grow, although the government believes there’s still hope.
According to New Zealand site Stuff.co.nz, director Peter Jackson told the Dominion Post that he had nothing to do with organizing a protest by aproximately 1500 NZ film technicians against NZ Equity’s blockage of THE HOBBIT being filmed with some extras and performers not necessarily a part of the union or their new parent, the Australian Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance.
Council of Trade Unions’ President Helen Kelly is said to have made statements that apparently implied that the march was cooked up by Jackson and Warner Brothers.
Peter Jackson said:
”I couldn’t believe it. It was the first time I really got very angry. I watched the march on TV. I wasn’t there, and unlike what Helen Kelly’s been saying, I didn’t have anything to do with organising it.
Suddenly I see Helen Kelly and she starts slagging off the production… I’m thinking ‘this is a legitimate march by 1000 people who are basically wondering how they are going to live for the next two years.’
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key thinks the two HOBBIT movies can be saved, and hopes to convince Warner Brothers executives due to arrive next week.
“My concern is that if Warner Brothers deems New Zealand is not a good place to make movies, then there is a real risk other major film production companies will also believe that to be the case.
…This is a very successful growth area for New Zealand and to have the film industry destroyed on the back of the actions of the unions is, I think, reprehensible.”
The PM said he believed Warner Brothers’ main concern was industrial uncertainty, and not New Zealand’s 15% tax incentive.
England, Ireland, and Eastern European countries are reportedly very interested in attracting the $500 million productions.
Sure, we all like our sea monsters. But what do we do when those monsters some how find their way onto our turf? That (appears) to be the question posed by the New Zealand film GHOST SHARK 2!
When Ghost Shark escapes from his extradimensional prison to terrorize Auckland, Mayor Broody calls in an expert ghost shark hunter to protect the citizens and finally defeat the creature. This first release from Mad Fox Films is a horror/action/drama spectacular, shot on location in Auckland and Christchurch, New Zealand, by award-winning directors Andrew Todd and Johnny Hall.
Honestly, there is not much more to say that the trailer can’t show you. Enjoy!