Sir Peter Jackson told the New Zealand Herald that he he has done his time in Middle-earth and is keen to move away from Hollywood blockbusters and focus on new projects.
“We have got a few bits and pieces that we are working on, Fran and I,” he said. ” The things that we are most excited about are some New Zealand stories. We just want to step off the Hollywood blockbuster thing for a while and we’ve had a few New Zealand stories in line for a while that we think would make great films. The Heavenly Creatures mode really. But one thing has led to another and we have never had time. We’ve made a conscious decision that in the limited years we have left to make movies to tell some New Zealand stories.”
Peter Jackson has been involved in Middle Earth since he began pursuing the film rights to J.R.R Tolkien’s epic fantasy The Lord of the Rings in 1995. By the time the final instalment of The Return of The King hit cinemas and the extended DVD was completed in 2004, Jackson had spent almost a decade on the film trilogy. The crew was rewarded with 11 Academy Awards in 2004 for their achievement. Although Jackson, working with his usual partners, his wife Fran Walsh and screenwriter Philippa Boyens, went on to direct another blockbuster, King Kong in 2005, he also adapted Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones in 2009. The Lovely Bones is visually reminiscent of his earlier work on the acclaimed and stunning Heavenly Creatures.
Fran and Peter also produced the important documentary West of Memphis which was released in 2012. West of Memphis follows the events of the West Memphis Three, a case in which three teenagers — Jessie Misskelley, Damien Echols, and Jason Baldwin — were wrongfully arrested and imprisoned for the murders of three 8-year old children: Christopher Byers, Steven Branch, and Michael Moore. Paid for and produced by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, and directed by Amy Berg, the film-makers were actually initially involved in trying to exonerate the West Memphis Three, convinced that they were the victims of a witch hunt in bible-belt Arkansas and that the real culprit was still at large.
Jackson initially intended to simply get involved in helping the trio, personally funding forensic tests and tracing witnesses: “It’s not like he just threw money at it,” Damien Echols told The Guardian. “He was literally part of our legal team.” But back in Arkansas the state refused to hear new evidence, insisting the case was closed. Jackson then decided the best way to pressure the authorities was to film a documentary. After two decades of being wrongfully imprisoned, the West Memphis Three were released.
He was not originally slated to direct The Hobbit, although fans worldwide breathed a sigh of relief (especially me) when the dreadful Del Toro left the project. While Jackson initially may have been reluctant to take over, this time he had far less restraints with the budget and scope, being able to produce three films because the film studios knew they had another hit coming.
“In some respects in terms of my remaining film-making career this was a five-year chunk that was kind of taken out of it unexpectedly. My future is five years less than I thought it was,” he said.” I thought if I am going to do that I am actually going to enjoy it. I am going to have fun. Hopefully, that is reflected on the screen, too.”
While some fans are still calling for Peter Jackson to make more Middle Earth-based movies, I have speculated he may be ready for a new chapter in his life. It is clear from Jackson’s other projects that he is still an indie film-maker at heart. And I am looking forward to seeing him get back to his roots.