Fans of JRR Tolkien's fantasy stories had
better make the most of the three Hobbit movies being made in New
Zealand, because it's almost certain there will not be any more,
filmmaker Sir Peter Jackson said Tuesday.
"This is probably - I won't say never - the last time we are ever going to do anything in Middle Earth," Jackson said on the eve of Wednesday's premiere of the first movie, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
Jackson, who earlier made the Oscar-winning trilogy The Lord of the Rings, told Radio New Zealand that the Tolkien estate rightfully had a very protective attitude to the author's work.
"I don't think they would ever allow a spin off TV series - they're very strict, so unless something happens that we can't predict, I don't see how anyone would ever do any more Tolkien."
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was screened to a select group of crew and cast at the weekend in Wellington after finishing touches were made, Jackson told fans on Monday night at a Hobbit pre-premiere party.
The film will be released worldwide on December 14 after premieres in the United States and Britain. Jackson said it would be seen on 25,000 screens in 3D, IMAX and 2D.
The second instalment, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, will be released on December 13, 2013, with the final movie, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, scheduled to open on July 18, 2014.
Jackson said that Warner Bros threatened to make the movies in England and Scotland in 2010 when a labour union dispute erupted in New Zealand, and the studio sent a team of executives to talk to the government in Wellington.
Prime Minister John Key drew domestic criticism when he agreed to subsidies and tax breaks worth an estimated 60 million New Zealand dollars (49 million US dollars) and changed labour laws to accommodate the Hollywood moguls.
Jackson, who was born in Wellington, said that the studio was serious about taking the movies away from New Zealand, recalling that a huge box of photographs had been delivered to him.
"(Warner Bros) had sent a location scout around England and Scotland to take photos, and they literally had the script broken down to each scene, and in each scene there were pictures of the Scottish Highlands and the forests in England ... and that was to convince us we could easily just go over there and shoot the film," he told Radio New Zealand.
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