10 May 2024

Revealed: Lord of the Rings movies production hub to be in Wellington

6:13 pm on 10 May 2024
Peter Jackson.
Collection Christophel / RnB © New Line Cinema / WingNut Films (Photo by New Line Cinema / WingNut Films / Collection Christophel / Collection ChristopheL via AFP)

Peter Jackson will produce the new films. Photo: New Line Cinema / WingNut Films / Collection Christophel via AFP

News of two new Lord of the Rings movies has sent a ripple of excitement through the home of Middle Earth in Wellington.

Andy Serkis will return in his role as Gollum and also direct the first film which is set to hit screens in 2026.

Tentatively titled "The Hunt for Gollum" the film will be produced by filmmaker Peter Jackson out of Wellington.

Head of Attraction for Screen Wellington, Mark Westerby, said news of the production was a huge win for the capital and the country's film industry as a whole.

"We know Lord of the Rings well. We've done it before. I know that Peter [Jackson] and Fran [Walsh], Phillipa [Boyens] and of course Andy Serkis as well have a huge love of that lore and want to be guardians of that," Westerby said.

Westerby said the production would also be a chance for a new generation of film makers to prove themselves on the world's stage.

"There will be a lot of experienced people that will be working on this but I think there also lots of opportunities for people who are entering the industry to cut their teeth as well. There are so many opportunities for young people and young creatives coming through to be involved. There's no better way to learn than on a big film set," Westerby said.

Kris Gillan was a fabricator who had worked on Peter Jackson's productions since 2008.

He said he became concerned when the Lord of The Rings TV show went offshore that the movies might follow suit.

"A lot of people have made their career in film on Middle Earth and I think that Peter Jackson kind of owes the local industry to do it here," Gillan said.

Wellington Chamber of Commerce chief executive Simon Arcus, said the country was considerably better poised to capitalise on the economic opportunities presented by the films than when the franchise first began.

"If you look at the awareness that councils and others have of the need to focus on these kind of projects but also look at the creative industries in Wellington and elsewhere that have sprung up around and because of them. They are ready to help as well and I think that this time we should make sure they're front and centre if there's opportunities to engage and get good contracts for the movies," Arcus said.

Tourism New Zealand chief executive René de Monchy said the original films still represented a powerful draw to the country's attractions.

He said about 14 percent of holiday visitors cited the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings as key motivators for their interest in Aotearoa.

"My hopes would be that the movies again become a fantastic moving billboard for beauty of New Zealand's landscape. Once visitors are here about a third of them will go to a location or participate in a tour or a Hobbit or Lord of the Rings related experience," de Monchy said.

However, on the streets of Wellington reviews were a little more mixed.

"When the Hobbit came out I was like 'It's too much already'. Three movies out of one book? And now they're doing more? I'm shocked," one person said.

Another was concerned the ongoing sequels would water down the impact of the original trilogy.

"Don't ruin the original movies. They're so good. The battle scenes are amazing," he said.

Another local was more pragmatic.

"It will be good for Wellington and keeps us up there in terms of our creativity and profile and also in terms of our work in the film industry so yeah, it's good," he said

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs