According to Variety, Peter Jackson threw open the doors of his Wellington studios last week to give roughly 200 people a sneak peek at footage of King Kong.

Just don't ask any of that privileged group about what they saw.

All guests, which included reps from exhibitors, international distrib UIP and a Universal delegation led by vice chairman Marc Shmuger, were obliged to sign confidentiality agreements. And no mobile phones were allowed.

Jackson is "paranoid about anyone taking photos," says one attendee, whose gag slipped momentarily.

Jackson screened 18 minutes of footage of the $160 million remake, showing off his Weta digital workshop and lavish sound mixing facility.

Displaying some of the miniatures, he explained how he told his tech crew the miniature forest had to show the effect of wind rippling the branches and leaves as the big ape lumbers through it -- apparently a feat never pulled off before.

The director admitted to nerves as he introduced the footage, noting it hadn't been seen by anyone outside his team.

But reactions were uniformly bullish, from what Variety could glean.

"Fantastic. I haven't felt like that since I saw 'Jurassic Park,' '' one attendee said.

Leads Jack Black and Naomi Watts were also on hand to talk briefly about their roles.