NEW YORK—There’s no denying that The Hobbit trilogy has amassed a huge worldwide following, and what makes the production successful is not only the fantasy adventure tales, but Sir Peter Jackson, the man who brought them to life.
Fans have called him a genius and a legend, the Academy has graced him with three Oscars, he’s been bestowed with the title of Sir, but no awards or fame faze the diligent director who shows up to interviews barefoot.
Sir Peter Jackson was born and raised in Pukerua Bay, New Zealand, and has been filming since he was eight years old. Jackson, who has also directed “King Kong,” “The Adventures of Tintin,” and “The Lord of The Rings” trilogy, has worked with J. R. R. Tolkien’s tales for over a decade.
His latest film, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” is the second in “The Hobbit” trilogy. It cost a quarter-of-a-billion dollars to produce and probably has as many fans.
Middle Earth Online
What has made the world of hobbits expand beyond the screen is perhaps the already established fan-base of Tolkien novels such as the volunteer-based online forum called TheOneRing.net that was “Forged by and for fans of J.R.R. Tolkien.” The site was founded in 1999 and has been religiously aggregating news about films that are based on members’ beloved legends.
Jackson’s own constant updates on his Youtube channel, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter feed add to the Tolkien-inspired universe. He tells fans about the cameras he uses, favored filming techniques, how he interprets the Tolkien tales, where he’s shooting, and even posts pictures of the sunrise from his window or photos of his grumpy cat—Mr. Smudge.
But perhaps most of all, fans admire the director for his laid-back, approachable nature. This summer, Jackson told his Facebook followers about his funny superstition of wearing the same outfit every day.
“Last year I bought two shirts when I went to ComicCon. A white one, and a blue one. Today feels like a white day,” he wrote.
In a recent Worldwide Fan Event when promoting the second Hobbit film, Jackson showed up on stage barefoot, in a white shirt.
Spotlight on New Zealand
His contributions to the travel and tourism industry in New Zealand also can’t be ignored. Air New Zealand featured two Smaug the Dragon images splashed across both sides of one of its Boeing 777-300 planes. The airline’s crew filmed a promotional video of the captains and the staff transforming into dwarves and elves.
On Twitter, Tourism New Zealand proudly refers to the island nation as the “real middle earth.”
For a Los Angeles movie premiere, the film team shipped from New Zealand parts of movie sets and props, and created The Book of New Zealand. A museum-like interactive set showed off the scenery from the film, which are physical locations in Jackson’s homeland.
When on the black carpet for the premiere, Jackson said that not only is he hoping to inspire interest in the Tolkien novels with his films, but also hopes to inspire film students and amateur filmmakers.
The fans, however, ask for more, begging on social media that Jackson consider directing The Silmarilion, another Tolkien legend that is set millennia prior to “The Hobbit.” We can’t tell that Jackson has given it any thought yet.
In the coming year, he will be editing the third Hobbit film as well as other movies.
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” opens in theaters nationwide on Friday, Dec. 13.