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Tag: Lord of the Rings (1-4 of 4)

'The Hobbit': Weta's ongoing quest for the digital face of the future

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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a tale of two risky quests. The first quest is the one on the screen, which sends Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), and 12 compact compatriots off toward Lonely Mountain. The second is the filmmaking odyssey for the cast and crew led by director Peter Jackson, who won fame and glory in Middle-earth with the Lord of the Rings trilogy but found a different combination of challenges in adapting this earlier Tolkien epic.

A key figure in Jackson’s odyssey is senior visual effects supervisor Joe Letteri, the director of Weta Digital and a four-time Oscar winner (Avatar, King Kong, and the second and third Lord of the Rings films) who may add a fifth thanks to his latest Middle-earth nomination (which he shares with Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White). EW caught up with Letteri to talk about the changing face of digital effects and its unexpected journey toward the spiritual center of acting craft. Also, check out a new sizzle reel of The Hobbit, a film that racked up $956 million in worldwide box office, which among Tolkien adaptations bows only to Return of the King, the 2003 finale of the first trilogy that took in  $1.1 billion and won the Oscar for Best Picture.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The first Lord of the Rings film opened a little more than 11 years ago but it’s amazing how far digital effects have leaped in that span. For you, when you look back at your path, what do you see that’s unexpected?
JOE LETTERI:
The nature of it, the true nature of the work. We’re just in the early days of understanding what facial expression means of how people relate to each other. I know people focus on the technology, like the motion capture, but really when you look at a lot of this and you try to tease out what the meaning is, you figure out that it comes down to trying to understand expression and the way people relate to each other. That’s drama, that’s the heart of what actors do. We work with actors to distill that and to bring it to these new characters. With Hobbit we had a chance to do it with six characters with speaking lines — there was over 20 minutes of dialogue for these characters. READ FULL STORY

Box office preview: 'The Hobbit' will make a very expected journey to No. 1

Bilbo-Baggins

After two dreadful weekends at the box office, Gandalf, Bilbo, and a whole motley crew of dwarves have come to the film industry’s rescue — and not even the dragon Smaug will be able to keep them from grabbing a whole lot of treasure.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first entry in a trilogy produced by Warner Bros. (and technically MGM as well) for a reported $600 million, arrives in theaters nine years after the original Lord of the Rings franchise concluded. Those three Lord of the Rings films opened over this same weekend in Dec. 2001, 2002 and 2003, grossing $47.2 million, $62.0 million, and $72.6 million in their respective debut weekends, and all three eventually earned over $300 million domestically. Because the series was so well-received from the very beginning, each subsequent release performed better than its predecessor, and the final entry, The Return of the King, topped out with $377 million domestically and $1.1 billion worldwide — not to mention an Academy Award for Best Picture.

After nearly a decade of waiting — during which the LOTR series was devoured voraciously on DVD — The Hobbit, based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s prequel to the LOTR series, is now poised to maintain the franchise’s box office vitality, at least on opening weekend. The Hobbit will almost certainly continue the trend of rising opening weekend grosses. The question is now how high it can climb. READ FULL STORY

Peter Jackson unveils new 'Hobbit' Comic-Con exclusive: Check it out!

We at EW are not the only ones working ourselves into a frenzy over the arrival of this week’s San Diego Comic-Con. Peter Jackson took to The Hobbit’s official Facebook page this weekend to unveil a new poster for the highly anticipated film. Even better? Fans attending the Con can score one starting Thursday. See it below.

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Elijah Wood explains his new 'Speed'-at-a-piano movie, 'The Hobbit' hubbub

Pop quiz, hotshot. We have your wife and you’re about to start playing Rachmaninoff’s 3rd Concerto from a stage in front of hundreds of people. You play one false note — just one — and you can kiss her goodbye. What do you do? What. Do. You. Do.

That’s a tired overdramatization of how the Hollywood Reporter characterized the recently announced film, Grand Piano, which will star Elijah Wood as an emotionally fragile pianist returning to the concert hall for the first time after a five-year layoff, only to discover a violent threat scribbled on his sheet music. “Speed at a piano,” blared the trade.

Well, sort of. Wood chuckled when he heard that description of the project, to be directed by Spanish filmmaker Eugenia Mira and filmed mostly in the director’s native country later this summer. “We always need some kind of tagline for a point of reference, don’t we?” READ FULL STORY

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