Taika Waititi reveals that the set for his 2014 mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows was largely constructed from material stolen from The Hobbit.
Taika Waititi has revealed that his vampire mockumentary film What We Do in the Shadows has a surprising connection to Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy. the Hobbit films were Jackson’s big-budget follow-up to his massively successful Lord of the Rings films. Comprising of An Unexpected Journey, The Desolation of Smaugand The Battle of the Five Armiesthe trilogy was significantly less well-received critically than LOTR, but still made a collective $2.94 billion. This was partially due to the fact that the trilogy, even though it was set in the time before LOTRwas still able to feature appearances by several original characters, including Ian McKellen’s Gandalf, Orlando Bloom’s Legolas, and Hugo Weaving’s Elrond.
What We Do in the Shadows, despite also being a New Zealand production, is considerably more of a sleeper hit. The 2014 film, which was co-written, co-directed by, and starred Waititi and Jemaine Clement, is a satirical look at vampire roommates, made off a budget of about $1.6 million. The film made a reasonable $7 million worldwide, but it became successful through a word-of-mouth campaign after its original theatrical run, landing on many “best of” lists for both horror and comedy projects of the decade. By 2019, it was well known enough to spawn an FX TV series adaptation, also titled What We Do in the Shadowswhich is currently gearing up for season 4.
This week, Waititi appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to discuss his upcoming MCU project Thor: Love and Thunderwhich hits theaters on July 8. Colbert is a well-known avid Lord of the Rings fan (he even had a cameo in The Desolation of Smaug), and couldn’t resist asking the Kiwi filmmaker about his relationship with Jackson. This elicited a surprising story, when Waititi revealed that the house in What We Do in the Shadows is constructed from “the dismantled, broken down green screens” desde The Hobbit. Read his full story below:
“When I did What We Do in the Shadows… We didn’t have much money to do that film, and The Hobbit had just wrapped. And so out production designer – man, I don’t know if I should tell this – OK , but I will … Our production designer, in the dead of night, took his crew to the Hobbit studios and stole all of the dismantled, broken down green screens and took all of the timber and we built a house. in What We Do in the Shadows is built out of The Hobbit’s green screen…I have never talked to Peter Jackson about this.I don’t know if he knows.I like telling it at parties, that story, but I don ‘t know if he actually knows.”
It’s certainly been quite some time since Waititi has had to work at such a scrappy production level. Since What We Do in the Shadows and his follow-up film, The Hunt for the Wilderpeoplethe director has been able to play in the big-budget sandbox, making MCU blockbusters like Thor: Ragnarök and Thor: Love and Thunder, as well as being tapped to helm a currently untitled starwars project. Even his most recent lower-budget project of him, JojoRabbitwas high profile enough to win Waititi an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.
However, Waititi clearly still gets joy from the mischievous nature of his earlier projects like What We Do in the Shadows. It would certainly be interesting to hear how Jackson might react to hearing this story of how The Hobbit helped bring that new classic comedy to life. Jackson was once also a scrappy young New Zealander filmmaker, making horror comedies like Dead Alive and Bad Taste before he was drafted into big-budget Hollywood. Given this, he may only have praise for Waititi’s gumption.
Next: Do The Hobbit Movies Deserve Your Hate? Debunking 3 Criticisms 10 Years On
Source: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
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