Showtime and funtime in Wellywood

By Russell Baillie

Saoirse Ronan, star of Peter Jackson's  The Lovely Bones , poses on the red carpet in Wellington. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Saoirse Ronan, star of Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones , poses on the red carpet in Wellington. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Wellington capped off a decade as "Wellywood" last night with the New Zealand premiere of Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones.

The event drew a smaller crowd to the streets around the Embassy Theatre than Jackson's earlier blockbusters.

Two of the film's international stars, Susan Sarandon and Saoirse Ronan, were among the guests with Jackson and his partner and co-writer Fran Walsh.

The Wellington screening followed premieres in London, Los Angeles, Paris, Rome and Sydney.

But despite the film's American location, storyline and backing, Jackson said it was more Wellywood than Hollywood.

And he was glad, rather than nervous, to be finally showing it 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."

The Lovely Bones is Jackson's 10th feature film and the fifth - after the Lord of the Rings trilogy and King Kong - to come with a traffic-stopping red-carpet bash.

Jackson had an answer last night to the film's mixed reviews, especially to those critics who considered he toned down too much the story of Alice Sebold's novel about Susie Salmon looking down from a personal heaven on her self-destructing family after she is raped and murdered by a neighbour.

"There are decisions that we made based entirely on the audience, that we don't film the rape and the murder," Jackson said.

"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."

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.

"If I had wanted to get a broader audience, I would have shot it a little differently.

"We wanted it to be not a simplistic Hollywood film, nor an esoteric art film either. So we tried to balance it."

- NZ Herald

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