Weta already working on Narnia film


Work on The Narnia Chronicles has started at Peter Jackson’s Weta Workshop.

A spokeswoman for Weta confirmed it was working on the $170 million film project, but refused to go into detail.

Secret negotiations have been going on for months among Walden Pictures, Economic Development Minister Jim Anderton and Bob Harvey, mayor of Waitakere, where much of the filming is expected to take place.

No official announcement has been made that the project would go ahead.

But Weta Workshop prosthetic and makeup artist Gino Acevedo was quoted in an interview with an Italian website that work had begun on The Narnia Chronicles.

He described the project as another Lord of the Rings “because it’s a huge story – seven books”.

The project, led by New Zealand director Andrew Adamson, who won an Oscar for directing Shrek, would be a huge boost for the Kiwi film industry.

It is expected to be the first of five films based on CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia books, and has the potential to top The Lord of The Rings in economic spinoffs for New Zealand.

Acevedo joined Jackson’s crew five years ago to work on the Rings trilogy. He said he had been contacted by Oscar-winning special effects guru Richard Taylor two years before to work on King Kong when it was originally on schedule.

Acevedo also told Caltanet Cinema website that people at Weta began work on Kong five months ago, mainly sculpting dinosaur maquettes. The Universal-backed film, with an expected budget of about $200 million, got the go-ahead earlier this year.

Weta Workshop, based in Wellington, has sparked the interest of many production companies since the success of the Rings films.

It has been involved in work on Russell Crowe’s latest film, Master and Commander; The Last Samurai, starring Tom Cruise, filmed in New Zealand this year; and Neon Genesis Evangelion, based on a Japanese cartoon series.

Jackson said a film project involving Richard Gere had also been looking at Weta’s facilities.

Original URL: http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,2726916a11,00.html