Peter Jackson didn't just help fund the cause of the West Memphis Three, he's now hosting Damien Echols of the now-freed trio at his home in New Zealand. "We're doing investigative work, we're doing forensic work," Jackson said Friday at a press conference. He and partner Fran Walsh have been funding legal efforts for the three Americans, who were convicted as teens. During the conference, Jackson also announced that the world premiere for 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' will -- not surprisingly -- take place in Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand.
Jackson and Walsh, along with several other celebrities, including Johnny Depp, have championed the innocence of Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jesse Misskelley, collectively known as the West Memphis Three. The trio served 18 years in prison for the murders of three boys in West Memphis, Arkansas. They have maintained their innocence and were released after pleading guilty to lesser charges.
Their story of apparent injustice has been told in three documentaries. The latest, 'Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory', was updated to include their long-sought release in August. It screened earlier this month at the New York Film Festival and will debut on HBO in January.
As for 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,' the eagerly anticipated prequel to 'The Lord of the Rings' will have its world premiere in Wellington in November 2012, Jackson and Prime Minister John Key announced today at the Hobbiton set in Waikato.
One hundred thousand people packed Wellington for the 2003 world premiere of the 'The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King' in December 2003. "I think Warner Bros. in particular were blown away by the 'Return of the King' premiere," Jackson said. "No one in the international industry could quite believe how the country got behind that." The entire press conference can be viewed here.
'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,' hits theaters December 14, 2012. The second movie, 'The Hobbit: There And Back Again,' opens December 13, 2013.
[via THR and Deadline]
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