Peter Jackson to Next Focus on Smaller, True-Story Films Set in New Zealand; Doesn’t Rule Out a Return to Middle-Earth

by     Posted 4 days ago


Filmmaker Peter Jackson has now made six full-length feature films out of material from author J.R.R. Tolkein.  While Jackson’s return to Middle-earth following the brilliance of his Lord of the Rings trilogy was originally welcomed, interest in his new The Hobbit films waned after the first film turned out to be a bit of a slog.  You can blame the stretching of the material, the shooting in 48 fps, or simply a weak story to begin with for how this trilogy turned out (though to be fair it certainly has its fans), but none of that really matters now.  The final installment, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies opens in theaters in two days, and all eyes are on what Jackson will turn his attention to next.

He’s an undeniably talented filmmaker with a penchant for eye-popping visuals, but Jackson says that after making three massive movies in a row, he’s ready to turn his attention to stories with a much, much smaller budget.  But that doesn’t mean he’ll completely rule out a return to Middle-earth sometime in the far future.  Read on after the jump.


by     Posted 1 year, 8 days ago


After the disappointing The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, director Peter Jackson has found his way back to ruling in Middle-earth with the sequel, The Hobbit: The Desolation of SmaugUnexpected Journey gave us the comfort food of familiar locales, but the story lacked urgency.  Desolation of Smaug reveals that while Unexpected Journey may have been a somewhat tedious set-up, the payoff is a fleet-footed, thrilling second chapter that confidently expands the world instead of creeping around the one Jackson previously created in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens, and Fran Walsh Talk about THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY – EXTENDED EDITION

by     Posted 1 year, 178 days ago


The theatrical cut of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey already feels like an extended edition, but it turns out there’s plenty more footage to expand the first film of the The Hobbit trilogy.  Personally, I wouldn’t mind getting to know more about the individual dwarves, but it doesn’t look like there will be much of that.  As far as the dwarves go, Peter Jackson tells Empire, “You are going to get some serious Dwarvish disrespect of the elves at Rivendell.”  There will also be more time spent at some of the film’s key locales.  “You are going to get more of Hobbiton,” says producer / co-writer Philippa Boyens. “We always wanted to wend our way through Hobbiton, but in the end Bilbo has to run out of the door.”  I think we’re all pretty familiar with Hobbiton, so I’m not sure where else there is to go.  Co-writer Fran Walsh adds that we’ll also be spending more time in the Goblin Town and hear the Great Goblin sing his song.  “It is a great song,” says Walsh, “but it was just another delay in terms of moving the story along.”

Hit the jump for what else will be included on the extended edition, and how it will tie in to the next movie, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, which opens on December 13th.  The extended edition is expected to arrive sometime in November.


by     Posted 2 years, 6 days ago


Technology will march forward.  That march usually involves something getting trampled along the way.  The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is underfoot of  horrible 48fps 3D, also known as HFR 3D (High Frame Rate 3D).  Billed as a technology to sharpen 3D and reduce the headaches it can cause, HFR 3D has crippled Peter Jackson‘s return to Middle-earth.  Without the atrocious visuals, Jackson’s film is still slightly repetitive and bloated, but the magic mostly remains intact.  But under HFR 3D, the journey looks like a cheap soap opera on fast forward with crappy digital effects.

2013 Oscar Preview: Best Animated Feature, Best Adapted and Original Screenplay, and Technical Category Quick Picks

by     Posted 2 years, 26 days ago


We’re continuing on with our weeklong preview of the upcoming 85th Academy Awards, and after running down both acting categories it’s time to take look at some of the other races.  Today we’ll be looking at the Best Animated Feature, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Screenplay categories in depth, and I’ll also make some way-too-early quick picks in the technical categories.  The fun begins after the jump.

New Trailer for Peter Jackson-Produced Documentary WEST OF MEMPHIS

by     Posted 2 years, 47 days ago


A new trailer for the documentary West of Memphis has been released.  Produced by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, the film chronicles the investigation surrounding the “West Memphis Three”, a trio of innocent men who were wrongly convicted of murdering three young boys in Arkansas in 1993 despite the fact that there was no evidence linking them to the crime. Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley Jr. served nearly 20 years in prison (Echols on death row), before finally being released late last year through legalese that required them to maintain their guilt.  It’s an incredibly frustrating story, and I’m interested to see how director Amy Berg’s film differentiates itself from the Paradise Lost trilogy of documentaries that helped prove the trio’s innocence.

Hit the jump to watch the new trailer, and click here to read our review of the film from the Toronto Film Festival.  West of Memphis opens on December 25th.

Peter Jackson Working Out Logistics for THE HOBBIT Trilogy with Producer Fran Walsh, Screenwriter Philippa Boyens and Warner Bros. Studios

by     Posted 2 years, 148 days ago


Peter Jackson has decided to return to Middle Earth for not two, but three, The Hobbit moviesWhy settle for just The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again when you can have a whole prequel trilogy as a companion to The Lord of the Rings?  That seems to be Jackson’s thought process as he and production partner Fran Walsh are currently sorting out the logistics of a third film along with screenwriter and producer, Philippa Boyens (The Lord of the Rings trilogy). Jackson had previously teased the idea at Comic-Con, but now the director is reportedly in serious discussions with Warner Bros. to get them on board for the trilogy.  Hit the jump for more details.

Sony Pictures Classics Acquires Peter Jackson-produced West Memphis Three Documentary WEST OF MEMPHIS

by     Posted 2 years, 294 days ago

Following its much-anticipated premiere at last month’s Sundance Film Festival, Sony Pictures Classics has acquired worldwide rights to director Amy Berg’s documentary West of Memphis. Produced by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, the film chronicles the new investigation surrounding the “West Memphis Three”, a trio of innocent men who were wrongly convicted of murdering three young boys in Arkansas in 1993 despite the fact that there was no evidence linking them to the crime. Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley Jr. served nearly 20 years in prison (Echols on death row), before finally being released late last year. West of Memphis not only follows the fight to free the innocent men, but also seeks to provide evidence that convicts the true perpetrator of the crime.

I’m pleased to see that Sony Pictures Classics is handling the distribution, as I’m itching to get a look at the film. It premiered to positive reviews at Sundance, and Echols is actually a credited producer on the pic. There’s no word on what kind of distribution model is planned, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s given an awards push later this year. Hit the jump to watch the powerful trailer, followed by the full press release.

Peter Jackson-produced Documentary WEST OF MEMPHIS Unveils Breakthrough New Evidence in West Memphis Three Case

by     Posted 2 years, 334 days ago

The trial, conviction, and release of the West Memphis Three have been well covered on many fronts over the past 16 years. The documentary trilogy Paradise Lost was tantamount to the eventual release of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jesse Misskelley, who were convicted of murdering three young boys in 1994. While the State of Arkansas released the trio through a legal loophole that maintained their guilt (thus protecting the state from a multi-million dollar wrongful conviction lawsuit), the killer remains at large. A new documentary produced by Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, and Echols called West of Memphis premiered at the Sundance Film Festival today and revealed a breakthrough in evidence against one of the victims’ stepfathers, who has been the primary person of interest since new DNA testing connected him to the crime. Hit the jump to find out what evidence may finally exonerate the West Memphis Three.

First Trailer for Peter Jackson-produced West Memphis Three Documentary WEST OF MEMPHIS

by     Posted 2 years, 341 days ago

The first trailer for the documentary West of Memphis has gone online. Produced by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, the film takes a new look at the circumstances surrounding the West Memphis Three. If you’re unfamiliar with the case, three teenagers were convicted of murdering three young boys in West Memphis, Arkansas in 1994 with virtually no evidence. They were recently freed through a complicated legal maneuver (saving the life of Damien Echols, who was on death row), but the true killer remains at large and the Arkansas legal system is refusing to admit their mistake.

The case has been well covered by the Paradise Lost trilogy of documentaries, so I was curious as to why Jackson felt the need to produce yet another documentary. This trailer makes clear that Jackson and director Amy Berg’s intent is to clear the names of the West Memphis Three and bring to justice the real murderer of the three boys from West Memphis. It’s engaging stuff, and I can’t wait to check the full film out once it’s released. Hit the jump to watch the trailer. West of Memphis will premiere at the upcoming Sundance Film Festival.

Production Officially Begins on Peter Jackson’s THE HOBBIT; Plus Two New Images and the Official Synopsis

by     Posted 3 years, 275 days ago


Though the two-film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel The Hobbit has been fraught with delays and difficulties, Warner Bros. has announced that production has finally started.  There were concerns that The Hobbit would leave New Zealand due to a labor strike, but the 3D movies will indeed be shot consecutively against the familiar backdrops from The Lord of the Rings.  As a prequel to the award-winning trilogy, The Hobbit takes place in Middle-earth 60 years prior to Frodo receiving The Ring. Instead, the two-part adaptation will follow Frodo’s Uncle Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) as he is swept up in a quest of his own.

Hit the jump for the full press release, synopsis and two production images.

THE HOBBIT Likely to Move Middle-Earth out of New Zealand

by     Posted 4 years, 61 days ago


Today in “The Hobbit Is Kind of Getting Made” news, it looks like the production and New Zealand’s unions have reached an impasse and that Warner Bros. is likely to shoot the film elsewhere.  As we previously reported, the Screen Actors Guild told its members not to work on the picture.  While that blacklist was lifted, writer-producer-director Peter Jackson tells the New Zealand press [via The Playlist] that “The damage inflicted on our film industry by [the actors unions] is long since done.”  According to Jackson and co-producer/co-writer Fran Walsh, the blacklist undermined the studio’s confidence in the New Zealand film industry, and that confidence is somewhat necessary when you’re backing a production with a projected budget of $500 million.  While Jackson and Walsh say they’ll continue to fight to keep the production in New Zealand (where the original Lord of the Rings trilogy was shot), the decision now rests with the studio.

This scuffle is the latest difficulty the production has had to overcome.  However, MGM’s financial meltdown is no longer an obstacle, Jackson is officially on board to direct, casting is moving forward, and shooting is slated to begin in February 2011.  Broken in to two films, The Hobbit is set to be released in 3D in December 2012 and December 2013.  Hit the jump for the synopsis of the book.

Guillermo del Toro Leaves THE HOBBIT!

by     Posted 4 years, 204 days ago

The Hobbit movie image Peter Jackson and Guillermo Del Toro

Guillermo del Toro has announced he is leaving The Hobbit due to the uncertain situation with MGM.  As most of you are aware, MGM is up for sale, and until the sale is resolved, no start date can be set for The Hobbit.  This situation has pushed the original start date back from this summer to who knows when.  Also, even though Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens, Fran Walsh and Guillermo del Toro have turned in screenplays and have tons of details worked out for the production, they are stuck playing a waiting game until the sale goes through.

As a huge fan of Guillermo del Toro, I could not be more disappointed to hear this news.  But there is a silver lining, as del Toro has a ton of other projects in development and his release from The Hobbit means he’ll be able to move quickly onto something else.

For more on The Hobbit – including statements from del Toro and Peter Jackson, hit the jump:

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