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If you like Peter Jackson's story, you might also like:
James Cameron,
Francis Ford Coppola,
Ron Howard,
George Lucas,
Kiri Te Kanawa
and Robert Zemeckis

Related Links:
The One Ring
The Lord of the Rings
Peter Jackson Fan Club

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Sir Peter Jackson
Sir Peter Jackson
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Sir Peter Jackson Interview (page: 2 / 8)

Oscar for Best Director

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  Sir Peter Jackson

Another problem with condensing the three Lord of the Rings volumes into one book is that you have a world of fans hanging on every single plot point because they've read it 20 times.

Sir Peter Jackson: Yeah. I said all that stuff to Harvey.

I said, "You know, everybody who's read this book is going to be disappointed. There's no doubt about it. They will be let down, everybody. You are taking debatably the most popular, favorite book in the world, and you're making a film that is guaranteed to disappoint everybody who is familiar with the book." "Well, not that many people have read the book," (he said.) "We won't worry about that." You know, it was like relying on the fact that more people hadn't read the book than had, and wouldn't know the crimes that we committed cutting it down. So anyway, I just said -- we were in New York in the office, "the Miramax Sweat Box," they call it, a hot nasty little room, a windowless room in the middle of the Tribeca office he's got. We just said we just wanted to go home, Fran and I. We were just sick of the whole thing, sick of Harvey and the shenanigans. We just said, "Listen, we'll have to think about it on the flight home, Harvey. All right? And just give us a day or two. We're flying home this afternoon. Let us go, and we'll just give it some thought and give you a call back." And then we flew home, having no intention of doing this film.

[ Key to Success ] Integrity

Sir Peter Jackson Interview Photo
We were so kind of -- so sort of defeated, really. It was Fran's birthday when we got home. So we just went off to this hotel up the country just to have a quiet, getaway from it all, away from the phones, and everything else. A quiet little birthday weekend, though I did take a cell phone, and my agent (Ken Kamins) did ring at one stage, and he had spoken to Harvey. Ken had said to Harvey, "Listen, you know, Peter and Fran have given up a year and a half of their lives on this so far. You can't just tell them that they can't do this," because basically we would have said no to the "one movie" thing, and we were being thrown off the project, and Harvey was going to find someone else to make the one movie version. Ken said, "Listen, you know, you can't just discard them when they brought the idea to you. It was their idea to start with. They have certain moral rights here, and what you have to do is at least give them a period of time in which they can set the film up somewhere else," and so Harvey agreed to that, and we basically found ourselves in a position where we had four weeks to find another studio who would commit to three movies and commit to the budget figures that we had and read the scripts that we had written. The scripts would have to be rewritten if it was going to be three, but nonetheless, you'd get an idea from the script.

We went through this process of sending the scripts to everybody in L.A., everybody in Hollywood, some people in London. Only two people replied, which was New Line and Polygram, and Polygram were being sold at that stage. They're an English company, and they said that they'd love to do Lord of the Rings, but they couldn't deal with it until the sales process -- they were going to have a new buyer soon, a new owner -- and until that all settled down, and we said, "Well, we've only got four weeks," and it was three weeks now. "Harvey has only given us three weeks. We've got a ticking clock." So they immediately sort of dropped out, leaving us with only one option. I mean, everybody else passed, passed just on the notion of it.

[ Key to Success ] Perseverance

Sir Peter Jackson Interview Photo
Sony passed. Fox passed. So the script was sent out to every studio in town, and everybody passed apart from Polygram and New Line, and Polygram had to pass very quickly anyway because they were being sold, and they wanted four or five weeks to finish the sales process before they could decide, and they were very keen on it, but we just said we can't wait those four or five weeks. So that just left us with New Line and Mark Ordesky, who is an old friend of mine. I had written a Nightmare on Elm Street script for them some years earlier and had worked with Mark on that. So he and I knew each other. I knew he was a big Lord of the Rings fan because he had Lord of the Rings posters around his apartment, I remember, when I used to sleep on his couch in the old days when I came over here. So Mark was a champion for the project and got it through New Line.

We had a meeting with Bob Shaye, and Bob basically at that meeting, you know, he looked at the scripts and the various bits of artwork and a videotape that we had put together, and it was in Bob's words were, "Why would you want to charge nine dollars to see this when you could charge $27?" is the words that he used, and I thought, "What's he talking about?" It was a little bit of a mental puzzle, and then I realized he was thinking about three movies. I said, "You mean three movies?" "Yeah. Tolkien wrote three books. Why shouldn't we do three movies?" So they were immediately embracing. They saw the potential that if this was going to be as good as they hoped it would be, you'd want three of these movies, not one. You'd want $27, not nine dollars.

[ Key to Success ] Vision

So Bob pretty much had that figured out from the very beginning, which was great. It was great that like, our first meeting at a company, we felt this company finally got it, finally understood what we wanted to do after this terribly, terribly frustrating time at Miramax. So we then embarked on another round of pre-production.

We had to basically rewrite the scripts again. We had to now write three movie scripts. So each of the scripts had to have a beginning, middle and end, and be structured as a satisfying script, so (we) had to tear everything apart and start all over again, carry on to developing, and then finally, we got to that day -- did casting -- and got to the day of shooting which was the 11th of November 1999. That first day of shoot was -- it was three years since I had made that phone call, the first phone call asking about Lord of the Rings. It was three years to get us to that place. Three years spent doing a little design work, a lot of conceptual work, location scouting. We were pretty well prepared. Even though it was three movies being shot back to back, the three years of preparation was fantastic, 'cause we knew what we were doing. We knew how we were going to do it, and we were a very, very well organized group of people.

[ Key to Success ] Preparation

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