Peter Jackson wows Comic-con fans with ‘Hobbit’ footage and panel
Peter Jackson dazzled the fans at Comic-Con on Saturday as Hall H debuted some exciting footage from “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” the first of two films featuring Bilbo Baggins’ journey in Middle Earth.
The precursor to the billion dollar “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy now is one of the hottest topics in fan circles.
The panel started with a 15-minute behind-the-scenes video showing featuring interviews with the cast and crew and footage from scenes such as the Battle of Laketown. Fans also got their first look at a character created just for the movies, the red-haired elf Tauriel played by Lost’s Evangeline Lilly. Ian McKellen earned a standing ovation as he came on stage for the panel.
McKellen may have surprised fans by being a vocal supporter of 3D: “For people who are like, “Oh, we don’t need 3D, we’re used to 2D,” bollocks! 3D is life. We’re in 3D now. The brilliance about Peter’s 3D is that it doesn’t come out at you. You go into it. You enter Middle Earth. You look around the corner. You’re even deeper in, and can you find your way out? That’s the effect of 3D.”
Jackson detailed his rationale for shooting in 48 fps and the 3D conversion.
“48 fps is way better for 3D. One of the things with 3D is that it does accentuate the strobing because you’re getting it in two eyes from two cameras that were filming. Once you go to 48, it’s much smoother. There’s no eye strain and no headaches. The thing that we have to get now are the laser projectors, which are on the horizon, probably next year. The light levels of 3D will be radically increased, two or three times the light levels that exist now. At that point, cinema exhibition will be at a place where it will be great. It will be fantastic!”
Andy Serkis also got a lot of promotion in the footage, both voicing Gollum as well as serving as the second unit director on the film. Serkis said during the question and answer session that “It was a huge film education for me, enabled by the greatest mentor possible. Peter’s been an immense part of my life for the last 12 years.”
“It’s probably true to say that it’s unlike any other Second Unit directing, in the sense that the scale and scope and the variety of requirements for the Second Unit director is pretty huge,” Serkis adds. “You’re shooting everything from fighting sequences to map inserts to drama with all the principal cast. There’s just a huge variety, on a day-to-day level. You’re working with an enormous crew and using 3D, for the first time, and shooting on 48fps, for the first time. It was just a massive learning curve, really.”
A questioner asked Martin Freeman if he was nervous stepping into an already established team. Freeman said, “I didn’t feel a huge amount of pressure, I certainly didn’t feel intimidated.”
“The first time that we ever shot a scene with Gandalf, where Ian had to be in a completely different room, I thought, “This is ridiculous! This will never work! Who are these people? Why are they doing this to us?” And then, an hour later, you go, “That looks brilliant!” You rehearse it and rehearse it, and it becomes normal. Your whole frame of reference for how you normally work on a film shifts. What, one minute, is completely unworkable and ridiculous, the next week just works.”
Collider summarized what fans are saying: “The footage from “Hobbit” films did not disappoint. The advances in technology make Gollum even more impressive…”
Freeman, McKellen, Serkis are joined by Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), Elrond (Hugo Weaving) and the Company of Dwarves, including Fili (Dean O’Gorman), Kili (Aidan Turner), Dori (Mark Hadlow) and Nori (Jed Brophy).
Also appearing the cast of The Hobbit are Richard Amitage as Thorin Oakenshield, Luke Evans as Bard the Bowman, Christopher Lee as Saruman, Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug, Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins, Ian Holm as Old Bilbo, Orlando Bloom as Legolas, Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel, Billy Connolly as Dain Ironfoot, Graham McTavish as Dwalin, Ken Stott as Balin, Adam Brown as Ori, John Callen as Oin, Peter Hambleton as Gloin, William Kircher as Bifur, James Nesbitt as Bofur, Lee Pace as Thranduil, Stephen Hunter as Bombur, Mikael Persbrandt as Beorn, Stephen Fry as the Master of Lake-town, Barry Humphries as The Great Golblin and Sylvester McCoy as Radagast the Brown.
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” hits cinemas on December 14th, 2012, while “The Hobbit: There And Back Again” is slated for release the following year on December 13th, 2013.