The Press Online
December 2, 1999Fiordland
Flooding Maroons Lord of the Rings Film Crew
The producers of the $360 million Lord of the Rings film
trilogy faced losses of hundreds of thousands of dollars after flooding and heavy rain in
the southern lakes, producer Tim Sanders said yesterday.
They were working through substantial losses with their
insurance company yesterday and it could take months to sort out, he said. "A week is
a very expensive affair for us - we're talking about 400 people's wages, equipment hire,
accommodation and rental vehicles. It'll be hundreds of thousands of dollars," Mr
Floodwaters had washed away a Lord of the Rings film set
beside the Kawarau River, near Queenstown. "It's a drag, but it's not a
catastrophe," Mr Sanders said, "It wasn't a huge set, but we had some ruins for
one of our scenes along the Kawarau River, built on a beach setting."
The beach, the ruins and the whole area were suddenly 5m
under water, Mr Sanders said. Flooding, snow and slips had trapped crew in Te Anau and
Wanaka last week.
"The great irony in all of this is that we had a set
built in a studio in Queenstown for wet weather purposes. We couldn't reach it because we
were cut off in Te Anau," Mr Sanders said.
Between 200 and 250 main crew finally made it to Queenstown
on Saturday. They were forced to film inside yesterday despite fine weather. "It's a
lovely blue sky day, but it's all we had available to us - the levels at the Kawarau are
too high and all our lake locations are flooded," he said.
Although Mr Sanders would not confirm the location of the
set, it is believed to be a stone-cliff setting built in a large stadium- conference space
at Quality Resort Alpine Lodge, at Arthurs Point.
Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson was now based at the
Queenstown location overseeing all of his crews, either directly or via satellite, Mr
The film's second unit sat through days of rain in Wanaka
last week waiting to film a dry weather scene. It finally gave up and helped with local
sand bagging. It is now filming in the Tarras area. About nine crew had to be evacuated
from their Wanaka hotel rooms during the flooding.
Meanwhile, producers of American movie The Vertical Limit,
also based in Queenstown, said the flooding had been "a little inconvenient" and
had a minimal impact on filming. Producer Lloyd Phillips said only one day of filming was
affected when crew were forced to finish early because of road closures.
Some had to be flown by helicopter from the company's studio
and set beneath the Remarkables to get home on Thursday. The set includes a massive high
altitude base camp covered in man-made snow. Mr Phillips confirmed that some days had been
lost through bad weather, not just flooding.
The movie's American studio, Columbia Pictures, is reported
to be extremely pleased with the first early scenes viewed. "The studio does love the
material," Mr Phillips said. The Vertical Limit is set for release in the United
States in mid- 2000.