Peter Jackson’s Movie Museum Is Scrapped Due to Epic Costs, But the ‘Hobbit’ Director Isn’t Giving Up on His Quest

Filmmaker Peter Jackson is struggling to find a home for his planned museum and vast collections. The Oscar-winning director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy has pulled out of a project to create a movie museum inside a futuristic new convention center in the capital of New Zealand. The plan was scrapped as the cost of the $88 million joint project escalated.

“mutually-agreed parting of ways,” was announced this week by the city of Wellington. But like Star Wars creator George Lucas—who finally succeeded in getting his Museum of Narrative Art greenlighted after multiple tries—Jackson is not giving up on his dream.

The director remains committed to finding a permanent home for his vast collection of film props and models, which include the vintage car from the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. And unlike Lucas, who first tried to build his museum in San Francisco and Chicago before breaking ground in Los Angeles, Jackson and his partners are sticking with their preferred location: the capital of New Zealand.

“We remain committed to the creation of a Movie Museum in Wellington, and will now be considering other options,” the group said in a joint statement, admitting that “the economics of the Cable Street location proved to be a challenge.”

Studio Pacific Architecture’s design for Wellington’s planned convention and exhibition center. Courtesy of the City of Wellington.

Jackson’s movie museum, which was to be housed in a landmark convention center on the city’s waterfront, was first announced in 2015, but the joint project has been dogged by delays and rising costs. Now, the mayor of Wellington has turned to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, across the street, to develop the exhibition space in the proposed building. It could be a good fit—Studio Pacific Architecture’s design for the futuristic new building was inspired by a mythological Maori fish. 

The mayor of Wellington, Justin Lester, remains upbeat despite the recent setback. “Exhibition spaces around the world are undergoing a renaissance, particularly with the fusion of art and technology,” he said. “We expect this space to be a game-changer that not only brings the best of the world to New Zealand but also gives a platform for our own creative sector to think big.”

The mayor said he expects to break ground on the site, which is now a carpark, as early as next year. The chief executive of the national museum, Geraint Martin, who will get a venue for blockbuster shows, says Te Papa is looking forward to working with the council.

Jackson collects more than film heritage. In addition to a warehouse full of movie props, sci-fi film models, and set designs, he has extensive holdings of World War I artifacts. Many are currently on view in “The Great War Exhibition” in Wellington. The show also features a trench experience and Jackson’s fighter planes. But after its three-year run, the high-impact exhibition is due to close on December 18. The filmmaker has not revealed his long-term plans for that collection.

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