SDCC 09: Peter Jackson Updates IGN
The Hobbit, Lovely Bones, Tintin, Dambusters and more.
Christopher Monfette from IGN reports on the goings on at San Diego Comic Con 2009.
IGN was part of a very select group of people invited to attend an intimate conversation with filmmaker Peter Jackson in the aftermath of a screening of the absolutely stunning District 9. For a whopping 90 minutes, Jackson filled us in on his latest batch of projects, including The Hobbit, The Lovely Bones, Tintin, Temeraire and Dambusters. Look for a more robust report on the conversation later during the Con, but for the moment, check out the updates below:
With The Hobbit, I didn’t want to be too involved with looking over the shoulder of the director. Part of the reason I wanted to produce the films and not direct them was not to compete against myself… Guillermo is there because I thought he’d do a terrific job with that movie. It wasn’t the job for a novice filmmaker.
We’re about three weeks from turning over the script for the first Hobbit movie to the studio. We wrote a treatment for the two films which we pitched to the studio. There was talk about doing The Hobbit as one movie and then doing a bridge movie to Lord of the Rings. We worked through the storyline and thought that we could squeeze The Hobbit into one movie, but even with a three hour movie, you’d be amazed with how much of that story you’d have to lose. We included all the events that we’d like to see, plus the fact that we wanted to embellish a few things and put a couple extra narratives in for Gandalf and the Necromancer. So we decided that the two movies should be The Hobbit, Part One and Part Two.
The Lovely Bones
I had done four of those big blockbuster effects movies and I just felt like trying something that was going to be hard and difficult and very different. Like anyone we know, you just want to keep trying things that you aren’t sure that you can do. So this seemed like a very interesting challenge. I loved the book. I cried when I read the book. I think how you take that book when you read it is very much based on your own life experience – if you had loved ones that you’d lost, you’d take a very different direction. And the film is equally personal. It was a very, very difficult book to adapt. It doesn’t lend itself to a film structure. We haven’t slavishly followed the book. There are big sections of the book that we didn’t use; we elaborated on other bits. It’s certainly a personal adaptation rather than a copy.
It’s not my vision of the afterlife; it’s Susie’s. She’s a little girl in 1973 when she dies, so we had a very ’70s idea of the afterlife. People refer to it as Heaven, but you never actually see Heaven in the story. The idea, which is in the book, is that each person experiences it based upon what their life experience is, so what Susie experiences in her afterlife is based upon being a 14 year old in 1973 and the pop culture she’s grown up with and the life experience she’s had. But she’s also wonderfully funny, too. We didn’t want to make a tear-jerky film. The great thing about Susie is that she doesn’t feel any self pity. She’s got these wonderfully ironic, wry observations. She watches her family deal with her death; she watches her killer; she watches the police bungle their investigation, which drives her crazy in a very humorous way. And she comes up with a very bad idea of trying to use her father as a weapon against the killer.
You have this degree of freedom to create a slightly hallucinogenic experience, but that’s fleeting in the sense that she also witnesses what’s happening. She can see what happens, but she can’t be heard.So she’s very frustrated, and even though there’s this crazy fun that she has for awhile, I would say that the tone of the movie is very much like a thriller.
The Temeraire Series
The Temeraire are a series of books we’ve optioned. I think it’s going to be six books soon. I love the idea of the Napoleonic times, when there was a Navy and an Army, but there’s also an air force, which are these dragon-like creatures. So the British have an air brigade, but the French do, too. You have these great, Napoleonic battles with flying dragons and ships.
I’m thinking about whether it should be some form of miniseries. With six books, I really don’t like the idea of making a big-budget movie of the first book and it not doing well at the box office and suddenly that’s the end of the series. Six books makes such a compelling story that I like the idea of adapting that as a series.
Steven Spielberg has just finished his first cut. I’m actually going to see it when I get home. He did the motion capture for that and directed it, which he was doing for six weeks. Then it comes down to New Zealand, to WETA, because our company is doing the shots. So Steven and I are collaborating on the production of the film and I’m going to keep an eye on the effects shots.
For the second film, I’m keeping my options open at the moment, but I am very partial to the Seven Crystal Balls. I’m going to read them all again. I’ve read them about three times in the past two years, so I’ll do it again and see which one… Everybody who’s working on Tintin is a fan of the story. It was huge in England; it was huge in New Zealand. I grew up with these books. Everyone who’s working on the movie, to some degree, grew up with Tintin. And in Steven’s case, he got turned on to Tintin after Raiders of the Lost Ark, which is a very Tintin-esque kind of story.
One of things I’m thinking of is possibly shooting Dambusters in 3-D. I wanted to get my head around the technology, so we got the equipment and shot some material to see how it looked.