Jan 11
THE HOBBIT OF KIWIS by Alex J. Socorro  |  Posted in Articles  |  on Fri, Jan 11, 2013

In 2008, the movie Baler was produced, upon the initiative of Senator Edgardo Angara and with the financial support of PAGCOR. A historical film, Baler was an entry to the Metro Manila Film Festival.

In 2010, the movie Emir was produced with the help of the FDCP (Film Development Council of the Philippines). A grandiose project with great production value, the musical film was directed by prized director Chito Roño.

Anne Curtis and Jericho Rosales played the lead roles in Baler while Frencheska Farr was the solo lead in Emir which was partly shot in Turkey. Chito Roño directed Emir while Baler was helmed by Mark Meily.

Both were big-budgeted movies that, according to reports, were not able to hit the break-even mark. That’s reason enough to make it more difficult in getting sponsorship from non-private entities.

While the Philippine movie industry is wanting in government attention, the government of New Zealand has thrown its full support to their movie industry. In fact, New Zealand had contributed $99 million to the production cost of the The Hobbit.

Moreover, $8 million will be spent for the promotion of The Hobbit. The tourism department is actually promoting New Zealand as a film production-friendly fantasyland. Remember that The Lord of the Rings was also shot in New Zealand.

Prime Minister John Key is proud of the sword which was used by Frodo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings. Ironically, a New Zealand original, the sword was a gift from American president Barack Obama.

Martin Freeman stars in The Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey. (Photo from New York Times)

The Hobbit, touted to be an international blockbuster of 2012, has great commercial value and is expected to boost the economy of the country. Even Wellington airport has prepared for the expected demand for The Hobbit merchandise. Elf ears would cost $14.

The intrusion of the government came about when the production of The Hobbit was threatened by labor problems. So as the $500 million budget of Warner Bros would not go to waste, the Parliament had to rewrite some laws in favor of the film production.

This is not the first time that New Zealand gave financial support to the film industry. Last year (2011), the government spent $200 million by subsidizing the production of feature films.

Kiwis, as New Zealanders are called, are willing to relinquish a part of their dairy industry in favor of the Chinese migrant workers. This they allow in order to focus on the tourism industry.

But seemingly not content with the existing vacation attractions, Kiwis think that movie production in their country will attract visitors. And the Tourism minister wants a blurb that says New Zealand is the middle earth where The Hobbit was shot.

In competition with other countries (in the film-making location) one advantage for New Zealand is its English-speaking people. That’s the main reason why movie producers are attracted by New Zealand.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which was also shot in New Zealand, earned an aggregate of $3 billion. Proponents are hoping that The Hobbit will surpass the figures and vindicate them for their gamble (of financial backing).

Aside from Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit, Chronicles of Narnia was also filmed in New Zealand. Another notable movie was The Adventures of Tintin by famous director Steven Spielberg.

According to Prime Minister Key, the financial package they provided in the production of The Hobbit was not only for the movie but also for the positive side effect. The country would definitely reap the fringe benefits even before the movie is shown.

Weta Digital, a derivative company for the production of The Hobbit, employs a thousand graphic artists and technicians plus operating staff. It occupied 4 buildings which were not generating revenues before.

Another company, Weta Workshop, builds props and creates/and manufactures designs for merchandise related to the project. There’s also the post-production facility which is actually a one-stop shop for directors and editors.

And if the set, costumes and other incidental needs of the film would be considered, movie production is definitely big business. There would be more benefits if the transfer of technology would be counted.

For the production of The Hobbit, 48 frames per second was used for the assurance of resolution quality, That’s double that of the normal 24 frames per second of the traditional film. Clarity of motion is the main concern of Director Peter Jackson.

The Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey is the first in the series of trilogy. The Hobbit is about how Bilbo Baggins would reclaim the stolen treasure by the dragon Smaug. It is produced by New Line Cinema with MGM (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer).

Starring Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen and Richard Armitage, The Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey was premiered on December 13, 2013 after 266 days of production.

Note: The Hobbit earned $84 million in the US and $138 million in the intenational release for it’s debut run (one weekend). This includes a record-breaking $15 million gross from the IMAX theaters all over the world.

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