'The Lovely Bones' home in Wellywood
15 Dec 2009
Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones has premiered in Wellington - coming home to where the film’s heart is, says the famous New Zealand film producer.
Glad to be finally showing his latest work at home, Jackson said the film was more "Wellywood" than Hollywood, and while the Wellington screening followed premieres elsewhere around the world, this was the "fun" one.
Two of the film’s international stars, Susan Sarandon and Saoirse Ronan joined Jackson and his partner and co-writer Fran Walsh on the red carpet, and about 5000 fans lined the streets around the Embassy Theatre.
The Lovely Bones is Jackson’s 10th feature film, and the fifth to get the home-town, red-carpet treatment - the most famous Embassy Theatre premieres being the Lord of the Rings trilogy and King Kong.
The Wellington screening followed premieres in London, Los Angeles, Paris, Rome and Sydney.
Although the film has an American story line, location and backing, Jackson’s Wellington company Weta Digital produced conceptual design, specialty props and visual effects.
Peter Jackson, who makes a cameo appearance in the film, filmed his interpretation of heaven's "in-between world" in New Zealand’s South Island.
Jackson said he was glad, rather than nervous, to be finally showing the movie at home.
"No, I don't feel nervous. This is nice. Nervous is over there. Back here it's home. Also to me, it's not just the Kiwi audience, it's the crew that worked on the movie.
"The politics being what it is, we have to do London and that. But the heart of the film is here. It's where we live and work, so this does feel like coming home. You are always nervous when someone sees your film, but this is the fun premiere," he said.
Lovely stars of "Bones"
The movie’s main character, 15-year-old Saoirse Ronan from Ireland joked with Jackson as they made their way down the red carpet.
Ronan earned an Oscar nomination for her role in Atonement, and her starring role in The Lovely Bones has also sparked talk of a potential gong.
While she tried not to think about it, Ronan admitted this "would be wonderful if it did happen. This film means an awful lot to me."
Jackson said he did not have Oscar expectations for his own film but praised fellow director James Cameron's upcoming epic Avatar, which has also used Weta Digital to create the visual effects and digital animation.
"I think that's the film to beat," Jackson said.
Oscar-winning Susan Sarandon, 63, walked the red carpet in bare feet but "froze" and had to cut media interviews short when she was taken inside to warm up.
Sarandon plays the role of the grandmother in The Lovely Bones - an adaptation of Alice Sebold’s novel about teenage Susie Salmon looking down from a personal heaven on her self-destructing family after she is raped and murdered by a neighbour.
Defending the treatment
At the premiere Jackson defended the treatment of the story saying decisions about portraying the rape and murder were based entirely on the audience.
"If there was a rape and murder in it, I don't think anyone would want to see it. I wouldn't want to see it. So that was not a difficult decision to make.
"And we also felt it was a film about a teenage girl and we should be making a movie that teenage kids could see.
"Having two teenage kids ourselves, Fran and I did definitely feel we wanted to make a movie that our kids could get something out of," he said.
Jackson said The Lovely Bones was still challenging, and wasn't designed to appeal to everyone.
"I don't think it's going to reach a hugely broad audience but that is the beauty of keeping the budget down - it doesn't particularly need to.
He didn’t want "Bones" to be a simplistic Hollywood film, nor an esoteric art film, he said, "so we tried to balance it."
The Lovely Bones opens in New Zealand cinemas on Boxing Day (26.12.09).
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