In The News: The Press On-Line – Fiordland Flooding Maroons Lord of the Rings Film Crew

by Nov 30, 1999Lord of the Rings (Movies)

Here’s one from The Press On-Line. It’s a good thing the rain’s finally stopped…

Fiordland Flooding Maroons Lord of the Rings Film Crew

by Sue Fea

The Press On Line – November 23, 1999

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
Sanders said.

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 Sanders said.

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.

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