Mike Hopkins: Oscar-winning sound editor who worked with Peter Jackson


Mike Hopkins, who died in a rafting accident on 30 December, was an Oscar-winning sound editor who worked on the Lord of the Rings trilogy and other Peter Jackson films. Hopkins drowned when his inflatable raft capsized during a flash flood in a river on New Zealand's North Island. His wife survived.

Jackson said, "I know I speak for the many directors, production and post-production crew who were lucky enough to work with Mike in saying that he will be terribly missed. Mike was an extraordinarily talented sound designer, editor and supervisor and thoroughly deserving multiple Oscar winner. Under his guidance, New Zealand became recognised as one of the leading hubs of post-production sound in the world."

A native New Zealander, Hopkins shared Oscars with his sound editing partner Ethan Van der Ryn in 2006 for King Kong and in 2003 for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. They were also nominated for 2007's Transformers. Hopkins, who first teamed up with Jackson for the 1992 horror-comedy Braindead, was also sound editor on the two other Rings films and had worked on earlier Jackson movies including Heavenly Creatures and The Frighteners.

A river contractor, Bruce Slater, and his son used a jet boat to rescue Hopkins' wife Nicci, who had been in the Waiohine River two hours and was clinging to a ledge in a narrow part of the gorge too dangerous for bigger boats or a helicopter; the flash flood had raised theriver by two to three metres. "If they'd been half an hour earlier, they would have been clear of the gorge," Bruce Slater said. "And a half hour later, the water levels would have been noticeably dangerous before the rafters launched."

"Mike was a very genuine, caring and warm-hearted guy with a great sense of humour," Jackson said.