Weta Digital’s Joe Letteri and Dan Lemmon Talk Building to LOTR with THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF FIVE ARMIES; Confirm They’re Working on BATMAN V SUPERMAN

     June 29, 2014

weta-Joe-Letteri-Dan-Lemmon-The Hobbit-The Battle of Five Armies

The visual effects company Weta Digital became a household name following their groundbreaking work on the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and they’ve worked on a number of other impressive films in the interim, ranging from District 9 to Avatar to The Avengers.  With Rise of the Planet of the Apes, however, the company built upon the technology used to bring Gollum to life in Lord of the Rings to create phenomenal motion-capture apes.  That technology has advanced even further for the sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and Steve recently got a chance to speak with senior visual effects supervisor Joe Letteri and visual effects supervisor Dan Lemmon about their work on the film.

During the course of the interview, Steve also asked Letteri and Lemmon about Weta’s progress on The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies.  They talked about ensuring that the titular battle has massive stakes and builds a bridge to the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Additionally, Letteri confirmed that Weta is also working on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.  More after the jump.

the-hobbit-the-battle-of-five-armies-peter-jacksonWeta has been heavily involved in director Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy, and Letteri gave a status update on the third and final installment:

The Hobbit’s going great.  We’ve got a lot of stuff already turned over to Peter, we’re in the middle of it, we’re cranking through it.”

The third film was originally titled There and Back Again before being changed to The Battle of Five Armies, and Letteri discussed how the new title is a better fit for the concluding chapter:

“Yeah because it is the climax, and you really just need to know that there is another battle for Middle-earth.  The whole extension of The Hobbit’s story has really been to get us to the point where we understand when we leave it what’s going to happen when you pick up the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and this really does kind of set that tone.”

the-hobbit-the-battle-of-five-armiesWith a massive battle being right in the title of the film, Steve asked Letteri if the sequence is being crafted as hopefully the highlight of all six Lord of the Rings films, and the VFX supervisor discussed how grave the stakes have to be:

“We hope so, that’s the whole idea.  You’ve got all these worlds of Middle-earth—when I say worlds I mean the elves and the orcs and everyone sort of coming together in this final battle.  It’s got to give you that sense that if this isn’t won, there is no Lord of the Rings; everything’s over at this point.  So this has to happen, and that allows the sort of peaceful interlude you have before the next trilogy starts.”

Finally, since Weta worked on Man of Steel (they’re the company responsible for the visual effects during the opening Krypton sequence), Steve asked the duo if they’re also working on the follow-up.  The two confirmed as much, but were understandably tight-lipped:

“We are working on the Man of Steel sequel, yes… We can’t say much more than that, but we’re excited.”

With a number of DC Comics characters poised to appear in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Weta no doubt has some spectacular sequences in the pipeline.

Watch this portion of Steve’s video interview with Letteri and Lemmon below, and look for the full interview on Collider soon.

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