Movie Feature

Peter Jackson, master of Middle-earth, ends 17-year quest

By Zaki JufriMovies - 22 December 2014 5:36 PM | Updated 30 December 2014

Peter Jackson, master of Middle-earth, ends 17-year quest

With more than 10 movies under his belt, almost half of them epics, you would have thought that filmmaking would be second nature to Peter Jackson by now. 

But the three-time Oscar winner confessed he still had the jitters and was plagued by recurring nightmares in his sleep when he was working.

“I’m lying in bed and there’s a film crew surrounding the bed waiting for me to tell them what to do. And I don’t quite know what movie I’m actually making. I don’t think there’s even a script, but they're all standing there wanting information from me and I’m tired.  I’m exhausted, and I can barely think straight,” he described.

“And this is the truth: the nightmare starts on the first day of shooting and it’s every night until the last day of shooting. And then it stops,” Jackson said at a press briefing in London. 

Finally after 17 years of telling tales of Middle-earth, the 53-year-old New Zealander can heave a sigh of relief now that the final ‘Hobbit’ film, ‘The Battle of The Five Armies’ is released.

The movie is now showing in cinemas.


Peter Jackson with Ian McKellen as Gandalf on the set of 'The Battle of The Five Armies' | Photo: New Line Cinema 

“I don’t have the responsibility anymore.  Now I can go to the beach,” he quipped. 

“I feel very responsible for the fact that we're trying to entertain people and, for me, utter failure is to make a film that people pay their money to go see and they don’t like it,” he said.

Make no mistake, it is a huge weight to shoulder: this is the man that Hollywood has entrusted with more than S$1.3 billion to turn JRR Tolkien’s tomes into epic blockbusters. They have so far reaped S$6.4 billion.

Review: 'The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies'

Last week, moviegoers helped Jackson bid farewell to Middle-earth in style, earning the movie US$90.6 million (S$119 million) during its North American debut. Worldwide, ‘The Hobbit’ finale has so far hauled in US$355.6 million (S$467.83 million).

And that is not including the 17 Academy Awards the films have won. Jackson is also responsible for turning sleepy New Zealand into the epicentre for movie special effects wor,k as well as a pilgrimage destination for movie buffs.

There is no denying the films’ popularity, and the payback has kept Jackson going. 

“I’m sure there are people who have seen these films and don’t like them, but the majority of people – certainly from what we can see – have gone and enjoyed them, and that’s why we do what we do,” he said.


Peter Jackson with Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins on the set of 'The Battle of The Five Armies' | Photo: New Line Cinema 

‘The Battle of The Five Armies’ is the climactic conclusion to the ‘The Hobbit’ trilogy and also serves as a prequel to the ‘Lord of The Rings’ trilogy. 

Jackson described it as the most powerful and emotional of the three movies. 

“There is a lot of suspense and tension, triumph as well as tragedy, as the various agendas and personal conflicts among the characters come to a head.” 

A fire-breathing dragon laying carnage on a town, politics, interspecies romance, and the titular war are some of the things that fans can expect in ‘Five Armies’.

“Everything we’ve seen – who these characters are, what each of them is fighting for – leads to this moment,” Jackson said.

The film also sets the stage for the Middle-earth that audiences will encounter 60 years in its future, and events and incidents of the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy are foreshadowed in ‘Five Armies’. 

“We come to understand how Bilbo’s adventure fits within the entire story and the true stakes of the battle, not just for the characters but for all of Middle-earth,” Jackson said.

In essence, ‘The Hobbit’ trilogy is about the little man – an everyman – who will make an impact in the world, and Martin Freeman, who plays Bilbo, said he is “very proud” of the films. 

“Most heroes in the world are not six-foot-five and look like Vikings. Most everyday heroes do not look like that. We all know that to be true. Hollywood doesn’t always tell us that truth; that’s why we think it’s surprising that Bilbo can be a hero,” Freeman said.


So how does Peter Jackson see the legacy of this canon of films? 

“Fate steers weird things,” he said. “The very first phone call we made about these projects was 17 years ago, to say that we would like to make ‘The Hobbit’ as one film, and if it’s successful, then we’d like to do ‘The Lord of the Rings’ as two movies back-to-back and release them six months apart. 

“That was the big, grand plan. And now, 17 years later, it’s sort of become six movies that we did the wrong way round.”

But now, the films are all ready to be watched in the order that audiences should see them.

“Children that are too young now – like three or four years old, perhaps – are too young to see these films. But in a very short time, they’ll be able to start to see them, and hopefully, they’ll see them from the first ‘Hobbit’film through ‘The Return of the King’. So, very soon, we’re not going to have this back-to-front thing,” Jackson said.

And that will be another concern off his mind and he may sleep better.

‘The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies’ is now showing

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The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
  • The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies

  • Rated
    PG13 /
    Adventure, Fantasy
  • Language
  • (6 Reviews)