Peter Jackson may have strong ties to the city of Wellington (he and his partner Fran Walsh recently purchased the Bats Theatre there), but the Otago Daily Times is calling him “an all-New Zealand exemplar whose activities are the subject of intense speculation and interest wherever he goes.”
And it’s true. Here I sit, a hemisphere (or two, depending on how you look at it) away from the man, doing my best to track his every move. Jackson, with his 450 members of cast and crew in tow, recently shot scenes for The Hobbit films near Queenstown, and has since moved to film in Te Anau. And while the filmmakers enjoy the use of the beautiful local scenery, the businesses in the region are experiencing an unseasonable economic surge.
Film Otago Southland executive manager Kevin Jennings said, “During a time that’s traditionally quiet, it’s great to have the boost of these crews in town spending up.” Apparently, even Peter Jackson can’t walk around town without “banging into crew the whole time.” He joked, “You sort of get the feeling we’ve taken over Queenstown.”
Ian McKellen, otherwise known as Gandalf the Grey, acknowledged to Jackson, “When I’m here I don’t think that I’m going to work: I think I’m on vacation every single day.” And if you recall the gorgeous New Zealand landscapes featured in The Lord of the Rings films, there’s no need to wonder why.