There’s all sorts of news out of “Wellywood,” the nickname of the beautiful Wellington, New Zealand- home to the set of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first of the new movies based on the classic novel by J.R.R. Tolkien. This is the fourth (and soon to be fifth) of the major motion pictures based around novels by the Great Professor shot down in New Zealand and they sure are busy! [more on the boost to New Zealand's film industry at The Guardian]
The new production stills are all over the web after being released in both Entertainment Weekly and on The Hobbit Blog. Also at The Hobbit Blog, you can check out the latest of the Production Videos.
And, although we’re not sure exactly what Smaug is going to look like yet (the dragon, for those of you who haven’t done your homework), there’s some speculation over at TheOneRing.net based on a hoodie Mr. Jackson wears during many of the production videos. (We want to know what you think of the speculations. Will it be Smaug the Golden or is this something else?)
And, of course, in line with the logos…how about some merchandise?
Warner Brothers finally has the first of the official movie merch under a LOTR heading. It’s just the t-shirt, but it’s a start! (Of note, they’ve also added 14 new LOTR themed shirts! Have I mentioned my love of LOTR to you all yet?)
Speaking of starts, we already know LEGO has the rights to produce The Hobbit themed sets. Whereas they’ve kept the prequel’s sets under wraps, you can view The Lord of the Rings sets as previewed by TheOneRing.Net.
In addition, Monolith (the developer behind FEAR and Gotham City Imposters) is rumored to be working on the tie-in video games. [more at IGN]
Speaking of tie-ins, HarperCollinsPublishers has acquired the exclusive worldwide publishing rights associated with the movies and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will be taking the ball here in the United States. [more here and here via TheOneRing.Net]
There’s also been a lot of talk about the style of the movie. A lot of speculation went into whether or not the movie would be shot in 3D (when Guillermo del Toro was at the helm, it would not have been, but now that Peter Jackson’s in charge, 3D is a reality). Of course, the other “if” was the question of “if” it would even look good as a 3D movie. Mr. Jackson has done his best to allay fears (watching the video will help with doubts), but the biggest news lately is the confirmation that the film is being shot at 48 fps (that’s frames per second). Of course, now, projection companies and movie theaters are having to work to accommodate the change. [more at The Hollywood Reporter]
Not only are the theaters and manufacturers having to make adjustments, but the actors are as well. Collider got a wonderful interview with Luke Evans (he plays Bard, my favorite character by far in the novel) about what it was like to work shooting at 48 fps, the RED Epic camera, and his time on set with the rest of the cast.
Bonus! If you’re an actor down in the New Zealand area, you can always answer the extras call for your own glimpse at the gorgeous (and congenial) Mr. Evans. The Examiner broke the news today about the casting call (you can find the casting call for There and Back Again here).
In other news, critics are already excited about the film as it’s the last film (by release date) on Forbes’ list of SciFi/Fantasy films to anticipate. I know they’re not the only ones excited for December 14th.