Further versions unlikely

Last updated 12:00 29/11/2012

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Fans of J R R Tolkien's fantasy stories better make the most of the three Hobbit movies being made in New Zealand, because it's almost certain there will not be any more, says director Peter Jackson.

"This is probably - I won't say never - the last time we are ever going to do anything in Middle-earth," Jackson said on the eve of yesterday's premiere of the first movie, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Jackson, who made the multi-Oscar-winning trilogy The Lord of the Rings, told Radio New Zealand that the Tolkien estate rightfully had a very protective attitude towards the work.

"I don't think they would ever allow a spinoff TV series.

"They're very strict, so unless something happens that we can't predict, I don't see how anyone would ever do any more Tolkien."

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was screened to a select group of crew and cast at the weekend in Wellington after finishing touches were made, Jackson told fans on Monday night at a Hobbit pre-premiere party.

The film will be released internationally on December 14.

It would be seen on 25,000 screens in 3-D, IMAX and 2-D, Jackson said.

The second instalment, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, will be released on December 13, 2013, with the final movie, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, scheduled to open on July 18, 2014.

In 2010, Warner Bros threatened to make the movies in England and Scotland when a labour union dispute erupted in New Zealand, and the studio sent a team of executives to talk to the Government, he said.

Prime Minister John Key drew domestic criticism when he agreed to subsidies and tax breaks worth an estimated NZ$60 million and changed labour laws to accommodate Hollywood.

The studio was serious about taking the movies away, Jackson said, recalling a huge box of photographs delivered to him.

"[Warner Bros] had sent a location scout around England and Scotland to take photos, and they literally had the script broken down to each scene, and in each scene there were pictures of the Scottish Highlands and the forests in England.

"That was to convince us we could easily just go over there and shoot the film," he said. DPA

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- Manawatu Standard

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