MEETING – The New Zealand director looks back on the controversy between him and Tolkien fans and expresses his need to finally leave “middle earth”.
By Jean-Paul Chaillet, in Los Angeles
Stopover in Los Angeles for Peter Jackson in full promotion of Hobbit, The Desolation of Smaug, second part of the trilogy inaugurated last year with An Unexpected Journey. On this Wednesday afternoon at the beginning of December, the director arrives in a small salon at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, beard and hair unkempt salt and pepper, crumpled white shirt, a mug of tea in hand. Laid-back, he seems indifferent to the visible stress of the Warner staff, whose representatives have been struggling for three days to adjust an ultra-selective schedule of interviews drop by drop before the next and final stage of the junket, in Berlin.
Despite the mixed reviews, The Unexpected Journey had racked up more than $ 1 billion in global box office revenue. Jackson says he is armored, having digested the negative reactions of the outraged purists by the changes made to Tolkien’s book, in particular the invention of a female character, that of the elf Tauriel. “Look,” he explains, “there’s nothing romantic about this business at all. Warner has invested huge sums in these films and one of my responsibilities is to make sure the studio recoups its money. I have enormous respect and love for Tolkien’s work, but at the end of the day, the opinion of the fans does not influence me.
A film is not a book and, as a filmmaker, my narrative approach is different. And it is my personal vision that prevails. When The Lord of the Rings came out, book sales had climbed a thousand percent! It would never have been the case without my films! Books are masterpieces, we know that. Not the movies. But I believe I have largely contributed to making this universe known to a whole new generation who would never have been aware of it otherwise. And in the end, it was a lot more than a bad thing. “
“For now my only concern is to end the Hobbit trilogy! “
In return, the Warner gave him carte blanche and complete freedom for an eighteen-month extended shoot that took place entirely in New Zealand, far from the Burbank studios. “There are no rules, no paper and I don’t even know if I signed a contract with them for the Hobbits,” he confesses completely out of hand. The success of the trilogy Lord of the Rings gave me enormous power. A hateful word, but it actually allowed me to have some authority over the studio that a young director other than myself could never have obtained. The important thing is not to abuse it. So our relationship is based on mutual respect. I listen to them and they listen to me. It’s their money and I try to manage it as best as possible. “
An intact passion
He talks about his controversial choice to shoot at 48 frames per second, double the usual frequency. “Some spectators loved it, others hated it. I spent quite a bit of time adjusting and calibrating the high definition as well as possible, which actually resulted from the kind of camera we had used, to get rid of the HD aspect. But I still believe that this is the ideal format to see these films with better quality of immersion. As to tell you if I will use it again in the future, I don’t know because I don’t think about the future! For now my only concern is to end the trilogy of Hobbit!»
The next few months, he will therefore devote them to the post-production of the last part of the trilogy, History of a return trip whose release is scheduled for December 2014. And his project Tintin in all of that? “It all depends on my goodwill. I’ve been so busy the last few years, but I promise, I’m going to get going and start working on the script and the design of the preview… ”
At 52, her blue eyes retain a youthful sparkle. Listening to him, we feel the passion intact. He’s not jaded, but a little circumspect. “We are going through an interesting period with uncertainties caused by changes and evolving public tastes, declining DVD sales, the grip of the internet. Out of fear, the studios are still groping their way, not daring to take too many risks and favor franchises and prequels. In this regard, I am the first to plead guilty! But, inevitably, that will have to change. ”
An unexpected pastime
He says he finds the time to follow the news. Last film seen? “Gravity that I loved and that stimulated me. Seeing it, I said to myself that this was the real reason for cinema. Provide a unique and unimaginable experience, allowing you to completely escape to be transported elsewhere … “
And to decompress, he confesses an unexpected hobby. “As a child, I used to have fun making plastic airplane models. Today, I can afford a much more expensive hobby, a passion I never get asked about: building replicas of WWI aircraft capable of flying! Not having a license, I do not pilot them, being content to be a passenger. ” With a personal fortune estimated at 510 million dollars, he has invested heavily in his native land. Boosting the economy and tourism of the country.
“I’m not much of an adventurer,” he concludes with a smile. I see myself more as a Hobbit, as a creature who loves the safety of his home. For me, there is nothing more comforting than being with family, in front of a fireplace at home in New Zealand. Far, far away, from the dark universe of Hollywood… ”