Video settings

Please Log in to update your video settings

Video will begin in 5 seconds.

Recommended

Replay video

Video settings

Please Log in to update your video settings

Hobbit funnier than Ring trilogy says Jackson

The cast and crew, including director Peter Jackson, kicked off today's official Hobbit premiere festivities with a press conference at Te Papa in Wellington.

PT1M22S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2ad4o 620 349

Flanked by Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Barry Humphries and Martin Freeman, an upbeat Peter Jackson has talked frankly ahead of the world premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey about the times he felt the movie would never be made.

The director the Lord of the Rings trilogy said the financial troubles of Hollywood studio MGM and the difficulty landing Freeman, who plays Bilbo Baggins, because of his commitments to the TV series Sherlock threw into doubt plans to bring JRR Tolkiens' book to the screen, nine years after The Return of the King.

Jackson described himself as proud and happy about a movie that opens in 25,000 cinema screens around the world next month, including 1000 with the pioneering 48-frames-a-second technology that provides a sharper high-definition picture.

When MGM hit financial troubles, it seemed the movie would never be made. Once those troubles were resolved, it seemed Freeman would not be available.

Jackson said he never had any other actor in mind to play Bilbo Baggins, the hobbit who sets off an adventure with 13 dwarves in the new Middle-earth trilogy.

"There was a time there where I was very, very worried because we literally knew that this, if we got this piece of casting wrong, that the films were not going to work," the Oscar-winning filmmaker said.

Jackson described himself as "very, very down" when it looked like Freeman would film the second series of Sherlock rather the The Hobbit.

But watching the first series on his iPad late one night, he struck on the idea of breaking filming so Freeman could fulfil his Sherlock commitments then return to The Hobbit.

"It was a pretty radical thing to do," Jackson said, but believes Freeman's performance justified the move.

Alongside co-writer Phillipa Boyens and many of the Hobbit cast, including Elijah Wood, Andy Serkis and nine of the actors who play dwarves in the movie, Jackson spoke about the film in two light-hearted media conferences at Te Papa Museum, hours before the premiere at the nearby Embassy Theatre.

He described the animal rights activist group PETA as "pretty pathetic" for seeking publicity for their cause by tying it to the premiere.

Asked whether there was any truth to claims that more than 20 animals, including horses, died during filming, Jackson said "absolutely none; no mistreatment, no abuse" and described the allegations as an insult to everyone who worked on the movie.