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Rodney Hide: Sir Peter's film means Kiwis can all think big

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Sir Peter Jackson's blockbusters are significant milestones for this country. Photo / Getty Images
Sir Peter Jackson's blockbusters are significant milestones for this country. Photo / Getty Images

Three cheers for Sir Peter Jackson. He's done it again. Another blockbuster movie. Made right here in New Zealand.

Sir Peter proves anything is possible. I would never have believed that a Kiwi down in New Zealand could make blockbuster movies. Not just blockbuster movies but movies that bust the Hollywood block.

Sir Peter's Lord of the Rings trilogy was the biggest movie project ever undertaken. The trilogy grossed $3 billion at the box office. It won 17 Academy awards. The final in the series, Return of the King, won 11 Oscars, tying it with Ben Hur and Titanic for the most Academy Awards ever.

The Hobbit is even bigger. And, again, Sir Peter has delivered.

I was lucky enough to attend the premiere of The Unexpected Journey. The crowd and the enthusiasm for the movie was incredible. It wasn't just hype. The stars were genuinely overcome by their reception. And their warmth for New Zealand, and for working with Sir Peter, was real.

It was a tremendous feeling to be there.

James Cameron, director of Avatar and Titanic, attended. He said the The Hobbit sets a new movie-making standard.

He also had this to say about Sir Peter, elevating the movie industry in New Zealand to a global level: "It's really only happened a couple of times before, in Los Angeles and maybe London. It's the first time it's been done by a single film-maker."

Sir Peter's achievement and success is tremendous for the movie industry in New Zealand and for jobs and for the economy. It's a new development, too, in the very business that New Zealanders do. It's creative, artistic and entertaining.

It's a long way away from how we have always thought about our economy. It's not meat, wool and dairy built on our good soils and wonderful climate. This business comes entirely from the minds of talented men and women who don't feed and clothe their customers but entertain them.

The Hobbit provides us with a new way of thinking about what we do.

It shows we needn't be limited by physical space and the growing season. That our market is not confined by belly size and people's capacity to wear wool. There's no limit to the creative ability of the human mind. And there's no end to our appetite for entertainment and for fun. Sir Peter Jackson's movies mean more even than that.

It's easy for us to have an inferiority complex. Ours is a small country a long way from the rest of the world. We can easily believe we can't do as well as the rest of the world. The rest of the world seems richer, bigger and closer to the action.

But Sir Peter proves that wrong. He entered one of the biggest, toughest industries in the world and did it bigger and better than anyone else.

We no longer suffer the tyranny of distance. And, yes, ours is a small population, but that no longer hampers us because now the entire world is only a nanosecond away.

Indeed our smallness, and distance, can play to our advantage as the enthusiasm and support for the Hobbit movies show. Where else would an entire country get behind the stars and crew of a film?

Oh, The Hobbit has had its share of knockers - political activists, unionists, Peta, the disgruntled and the envious. Our biggest impediment may be the tall-poppy syndrome. But we shouldn't let nagging ninnies blind us to achievement and opportunity.

The Hobbit films were made here. In New Zealand. It was very much touch and go that they would be. Plans were well advanced for them to be made in Britain. Imagine how that would now feel? On the night it would be up there with losing the World Cup. For our future it would be a far greater loss than any rugby game.

So, three cheers for Sir Peter Jackson for showing us what's possible. And inspiring us to be the very best. Three cheers, too, for Prime Minister John Key. He took the political risk to make sure The Hobbit stayed in New Zealand.

We can achieve. And some of us can achieve better than the best.

- Herald on Sunday

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