More than a decade ago, writer-director Peter Jackson finished his The Lord of the Rings trilogy with billions of dollars in box office returns and a record-tying Oscar haul, and it seemed that was that. Jackson went on to other projects, but he just couldn’t stay away from Middle-earth. In 2012, he returned with a trilogy based on Lord of the Rings prequel The Hobbit, which again made billions of dollars, but didn’t come close to matching its predecessor in terms of acclaim. Now, Jackson’s done with Middle-earth movies (at least until he finds a way to make Wizard Origins: Gandalf or something), but he just can’t stay away from author J.R.R. Tolkien’s world.
Some men have a dream of a room all to themselves that sports a big-screen TV, a comfy couch, at least two video game consoles and maybe a signed jersey or two on the wall, but Jackson is a man of more sophisticated tastes. According to set artist Bino Smith, who worked with Jackson on The Lord of the Rings, he and several other crew members from those films went to Jackson’s New Zealand estate some time after filming was done to recreate Bilbo Baggins’ luxurious home, Bag End, on the property.
The Hobbit hole is apparently reproduced from the films down to the last detail, but unlike a film set with holes in the walls and ceilings for lights and cameras, it’s actually a liveable space, accessible through underground tunnels complete with a secret passageway through Jackson’s wine cellar.
“You got the house, then you go down to the wine cellar and you pull a bottle, and it opens up a door, then you step out and look down this corridor — about 35 meters, we had to create it,” Smith said, “then you go down one part, then there’s a skeleton and some bodies, then you come out to a mock torture chamber, then you pull a book in a bookcase and the bookcase opens, and you walk into Bag End.”
According to Smith, Jackson’s made the Hobbit hole into a kind of man cave to the stars, hanging out with fellow movie titans George Lucas and Steven Spielberg amid Bilbo’s maps and pipes. If that’s not the height of nerd luxury, I don’t know what is.