The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ring Jackson romps home

Wellington, Dec. 1 (Reuters): About 100,000 ecstatic fans welcomed The Lord of the Rings film director Peter Jackson as their returning king to New Zealand’s capital today for the world premiere of the climax of the award-winning trilogy.

Like a victorious general at the front of his army, Jackson led stars from The Return of the King for 5 km through central Wellington flanked by characters clad in armour and on black horses.

Filmed in New Zealand by home-grown director Jackson, the The Return of the King is a multi-layered tale of a hobbit, Frodo, and his bid to save the world by destroying a golden ring with magical powers.

J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, invented the dwarf-like hobbits and a host of other creatures as part of his “Middle Earth” world.

Amid drifts of ticker tape thrown by fans, Jackson and cast members were besieged by crowds 10 deep as they made their way up the 470 metre-long red carpet to the theatre.

Fans of the film trilogy spent thousands of dollars getting to New Zealand for the premiere.

Kim Ong of Singapore timed her trip to New Zealand to coincide with the premiere. “I saw the first movie, which was wonderful. It blew us away. So, since then, I’ve been waiting forever for the premiere,” she said.

Ong said she planned to spend at least a week visiting some of the film’s locations in New Zealand.

The first two parts of the trilogy — The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers — are among the highest grossing movies in box-office history. They have taken in a combined $1.8 billion.

Executive producer Michael Lynne of the film’s backers, New Line Cinema, a part of the Time Warner group, said Jackson had been the creative godfather of the trilogy. “It is the end of a journey that started six years ago, and somehow together we have accomplished something truly unprecedented.”

The books by the South African-born Tolkien — an Oxford professor who created languages and detailed histories for his characters and plots — have enjoyed a huge revival since the first two films were made. The third book in the Rings trilogy, which was written mostly in the 1940s, was published in 1955.

“These movies are made for people to enjoy them, and it makes us feel incredibly humble, and proud,” Jackson told the throng.

Tipped to win an Oscar for best director at next year’s awards, Jackson said honours did not concern him.

“I’m just going to let everybody else decide that,” he said. “You can only do what you can do. You do the very best job you can... I don’t think I have any regrets.”

The Fellowship won Oscars for make-up, cinematography, visual effects and original score, while The Two Towers won awards for digital effects and sound editing.

Once work finishes on his next project — another remake of the classic King Kong — Jackson said he hoped to return to making smaller New Zealand-based movies. But it was possible a prequel to the The Lord of the Rings, called The Hobbit, could be made in future — although the rights to the book had not yet been obtained, Jackson said.

Stars attending today’s premier at Wellington’s newly-refurbished 852-seat art deco Embassy Theatre included Liv Tyler, Sir Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Viggo Mortensen and Elijah Wood.

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