WELLINGTON - Director Peter Jackson gave fans a sneak peek of his latest Tolkien epic Tuesday, revealing he is working non-stop to get "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" ready to premiere next month.
Jackson took a break from his editing suite to host what was billed as a "world fan event", featuring question and answer sessions with stars from the movie streamed online from cinemas in Wellington, New York, Los Angeles and London.
Barefoot and relaxed, the New Zealander said contact with his fans, many of whom were dressed as Tolkien characters, helped re-energise him during the gruelling editing process ahead of the movie's December 13 debut.
"We haven't finished the movie, it's pretty intense at the moment," he told the audience at Wellington's Embassy cinema.
"I was up until 2am yesterday morning, working all night during the weekend - there's five weeks to go and an awful lot left to do. So this is really enjoyable, it's really good to hear your responses."
The highlight of the event was a 20-minute preview of the movie - the second instalment in The Hobbit trilogy - which was screened to cinema audiences but not streamed online because of piracy concerns.
The footage, which prompted cheers and applause from viewers, included a scene featuring Lost actress Evangeline Lilly as the elf Tauriel, who was a controversial inclusion in the movie for Tolkien fanatics as the character is not in the original novel.
"Don't hate, don't hate," Lilly joked from Los Angeles as she was introduced to the franchise's global fan base via the live stream, revealing she took inspiration for the character from Tinkerbell in "Peter Pan".