Peter Jackson

Though it’s taking longer than most would have expected, Sundance doc West of Memphis has been picked up for distribution by Sony Pictures Classics. The deal has been buzzed about since the film premiered at the festival, but SPC has finally gotten around to sewing up the deal for Amy Berg‘s film about the West Memphis Three. Berg’s film, produced by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, is a new entry into the cinematic world about the Three – Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley Jr. Accused and sentenced of the murder of three young boys back in 1993, documentarians Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofksy have previously chronicled the case in three Paradise Lost films, but Berg’s film features new information and interviews (some completed mere days before the film bowed in Park City), including particularly damning evidence against Terry Hobbs (a stepfather of one of the boys) and some very close time with Echols and his wife Lorri Davis. Back in January, I reviewed the film at Sundance, calling it both “exceedingly well-executed” and “an essential entry into the horrifying true life tale.” I’m pleased as punch that the film will now be getting a release from an established studio that can push it out to plenty of audiences. A release date has not been announced yet, but we can likely assume that SPC will get out this timely documentary within the calendar year, especially with a number of other feature film adaptations of the story getting into production soon.

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If you want to be spoiled on the new character created by Peter Jackson and company for The Hobbit, read on. If you want to be spoiled on what happens in The Hobbit beyond her character, read “The Hobbit.” That new character is an elf played by Evangeline Lilly. When Jackson announced it, he was quick to point out that there would be no romantic relationship between her and Legalos, that her name was Tauriel (which is not the ingredient in energy drinks), and that her name meant “daughter of Mirkwood.” Now, Lilly has given a few more details on the character to Entertainment Weekly, and they’re more than a bit revealing with a small note on plot and a lot on how much this new creation will be featured in the films.

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The story of the West Memphis Three (Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley) has already been, quite famously, immortalized in filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky’s Paradise Lost trilogy (which wrapped up this year after the Three were finally freed from prison), but Berligner and Sinofsky were not the only filmmakers captivated by the unbelievable story of the men, the murders, and the miscarriage of justice surrounding them. Peter Jackson and his wife and producing partner Fran Walsh have long been supporters of Echols, Baldwin, and Misskelley, so it’s no surprise that the pair have helped produce a new documentary about the men and their case. West of Memphis is an investigative documentary by the Academy Award-nominated Amy Berg that “tells the untold story behind an extraordinary and desperate fight to bring the truth to light.” The film picks up with the official police investigation in 1993, covering the story “from the inside.” Filled with new information and new evidence, West of Memphis is a timely and welcome addition to this year’s Sundance Film Festival. West of Memphis will have its World Premiere at Sundance on Friday, January 20, with four additional screenings throughout the festival. Check out the film’s official trailer after the break, along with screening information for Sundance. See you there!

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Audiences expecting more of the brand of large maturity found in The Lord of the Rings trilogy might be surprised when they check out The Hobbit. Especially people who’ve never read the books. Same director. Same world. Different style. Talking to Total Film, director Peter Jackson had a lot to say about his journey back to Middle-earth. He’s been kind enough to update fans through production video diaries, but here, he explains that his forthcoming flick will be “more playful” than the previous ones featuring Frodo and his merry band. “The Hobbit is very much a children’s book and The Lord of the Rings is something else; it’s not really aimed at children at all. I realized the characters of the dwarves are the difference. Their energy and disdain of anything politically correct brings a new kind of spirit to it. And that’s why I thought, ‘Okay, this could be fun!,”‘ said Jackson. Not to be a pessimist, but this is Jackson thinking it would be fun after thinking he didn’t want to do it. Still, it will be invigorating to see such a talented director capture the scope of J.R.R. Tolkien‘s book and funnel it with a children’s film sensibility. There’s still room for pessimism, but this project has potential to be phenomenal in a totally different way than what the LOTR faithful are used to. That alone is worth the price of admission and the curiosity. Plus, it’s Jackson and Hobbits. What could go wrong?

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The Adventures of Tintin had always been a bit of a sure thing. With Steven Spielberg behind a camera he can put wherever the hell he wants, which he does indeed do, while adapting adventurous source material that couldn’t be more up in his wheelhouse, what could go wrong? Plus, he’s got a script from a dream team of writers — Joe Cornish, Edgar Wright, and Steven Moffat – and with Peter Jackson producing. I say it again, what could go wrong? As expected, not much. This is the high flying, energetic, and playful action film that we all hope and expect from Spielberg. As nearly everyone will unanimously point out, this is what we all wanted from Indy 4. This is Spielberg at his most indulgent, and it’s fantastic seeing him working at such a level. Spielberg embraces motion-capture in a wondrous way, and he pushes every gizmo and tool he’s got to its fullest extent. If anyone oddly questioned why Tintin was done in mo-cap — besides how silly Tintin’s hair would look live-action and the logistics of having Snowy doing crazy stunts — you’ll shut up after seeing the magic on display here.

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There’s not much one can really say about this first trailer for the much-anticipated The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. As with Peter Jackson‘s three previous Lord of the Rings films, the project looks gorgeous, meticulous, epic, stirring, just plain wonderful, and true to its classic J.R.R. Tolkien source material. So, yeah, I love it. With The Hobbit, we again return to Middle-earth and the Shire, and to a much younger Bilbo Baggins (a very well-cast Martin Freeman), to learn (the first half of) the epic tale that started all this ring business to begin with. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey comes complete with an all-star cast, including Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Elijah Wood, Evangeline Lilly, Andy Serkis, and Richard Armitage. It’s a testament to the world that director and co-writer Peter Jackson has created that so many of his Lord of the Rings cast came pack for this next go-round, journeying back in time to recapture some of that old magic. After the break, check out the first trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

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It’s been understood for a while now that there was already a sequel to Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin in the works, one in which Spielberg was meant to trade producing and directing duties with Peter Jackson; and that’s all still a go. Before the original had opened anywhere, work was already being done on the sequel, and now that it’s become a financial success in several overseas markets, a second Tintin adventure is all but guaranteed. What has changed, however, is Spielberg and Jackson’s original plans of where the story for the sequel will actually go. We reported a while back that the sequel was tentatively titled The Adventures of Tintin: Prisoners of the Sun, and that the story they were planning to tell would be an amalgamation of two classic Tintin stories “Prisoners of the Sun” and “The Seven Crystal Balls.” Well, that’s no longer the case, because while doing an interview with The Playlist, producer Kathleen Kennedy has confirmed that they have a different plan. “‘Prisoners of the Sun’ was a very, very early discussion, and it isn’t under discussion anymore,” she said. “We’ve still got Anthony Horowitz working on the second movie, and we don’t know what we’re doing with the third movie yet.” Despite no current plans for the third, there does seem to be an idea of where Horowitz is currently going with the second. Kennedy said of the first film, “We knew that we needed to introduce Tintin, we needed to introduce […]

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It’s one thing when we’re talking about Alfred Hitchcock having a walk-through in every single one of his films, including one that exclusively takes place on a lifeboat (he appears in a newspaper ad for that one). Sure it’s eccentric but it’s not surprising because, well, they’re his films and he can appear in them as he pleases. What does strike me as weird is when a director shows up totally unexpected in someone else’s film. Usually there is a good reason – either they are producing the film or friends with the cast. However despite the later explanation, it’s still a bit jarring to see, say… the director of Kill Bill in an Adam Sandler comedy…

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In honor of The Muppets and our ongoing Muppet coverage this week’s Foreign Objects is sticking with the puppet theme in our own special way. But the Muppets are an American sensation, so while they’ve traveled the world they’ve always done so in American movies. Non-Muppet puppet movies are few and far between, and most of them are still US productions (Team America: World Police, Puppet Master, Let My Puppets Come) with only a handful of foreign titles like Legend of the Sacred Stone and Kooky. But I couldn’t find either of those. So we’ll be taking a look at Peter Jackson’s 1989 release from New Zealand, Meet the Feebles. It’s like The Muppets, but with more sex, drugs, murder and sticky white fluids…

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Based on the comics by Belgian artist Hergé, The Adventures of Tintin follows a young reporter as he (along with his trusty dog Snowy) end up on a series of adventures in pursuit of his next story. Brought to the screen by director Steven Spielberg and producer Peter Jackson, this may be the first time many audiences in America will be seeing and experiencing the world of Tintin (as the comic was first made famous overseas), but the series should have little trouble finding new fans this holiday season. Jackson’s skill with motion capture technology (as seen in his films like The Lord of the Rings and King Kong) is well-translated in Spielberg’s first animated project, creating an immersive world you can easily escape into, while the director’s love of telling an adventure story (and the series itself) bursts through each frame. The film begins with a series of animated scenes which work as a nice recall to the comics from which the story originated – even including a slight reference to newspapers as a nod to Tintin’s (Jamie Bell) job as a journalist and the format through which the comic first ran. The transition from to this the more standard style of animation into the full scope of the film’s 3D motion capture sublty helps audience realize just how impressive and vibrant this new technology truly is. Tintin may not look exactly as he does in the comics, but a clever wink at that iconic image is given early on, making it […]

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One of the biggest cinematic disasters in recent years is, without a doubt, Peter Jackson‘s adaptation of The Lovely Bones. The word “disaster” gets hyperbolically thrown around too often, but that film earns the title. Jackson bit off far more than he could chew, which is only one of the few major problems with the ’09 release. The book isn’t exactly cinematic, so all of the film’s faithful-to-a-fault problems made sense. Jackson tried to cram a whole lot into a two-hour-and-so runtime, including some of the hokier-sounding aspects of the book. Through the blockbuster visionary’s eyes, Susie  Salmon having fun in that bland CG heaven could not have been more tonally wrong. If only a director knew that the book doesn’t lend itself to film too well… Well, one director did know that: Lynne Ramsay. The indie darling was once attached to helm the film and turned in several drafts, even before the book was published. Once the book hit big, her greater and less faithful-sounding adaptation went out the window. It wasn’t an easy experience for Ramsay, and I almost felt bad for probably being the thousandth person to ask her about it. However, I was less interested in the politics of the situation and more intrigued by how she was going to handle the sprawling structure. After I asked what her script was like and mentioned how the book isn’t very cinematic, the director – who I was talking to about her fantastic new film, We Need to […]

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Steven Spielberg’s upcoming motion capture adventure film, The Adventures of Tintin, hasn’t yet opened yet in theaters, but the people behind the picture are already hoping that it can become a franchise. Early positive buzz and the attachment of Spielberg’s name leads me to believe that their hopes are probably not unfounded. So what’s the plan that’s been put together for a second Tintin movie? Will Spielberg come back to direct? Well, no, but the news of his replacement is pretty exciting. The Playlist has reported that The Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson has confirmed in the most recent issue of The Hollywood Reporter that he is on board to direct a Tintin sequel, as long as the first makes enough money to warrant one. This plan isn’t all just hypothetical either, pre-planning has already been done on the film so that they can get things started as soon as possible after the box office reports come in for this first. Spielberg explains, “[Sony and Paramount] were willing to do one movie with us and then give us the financial werewithal (sic) to develop a script, do all the visual storyboards and get it really in launch position. So we can launch pretty quickly on a second movie. The script is already written.”

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While waiting for Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson for The Adevtnures of Tintin press conference, I kept imagining how the duo would magically enter the room. First of all, their podium was slightly bigger than most there. Not too much bigger, but most certainly bigger. But what if it was gigantic? What if they wanted to stare down on all of us attending like Gods? As for their entrance, digital materializing infront of us would’ve been cool. Or if the duo showed up in a pair of mo-cap suits. Or if they were carried in on a Tintin themed throne. Surprisingly and sadly, neither of them entered the room that way. Once Spielberg and Jackson got to the press event, they delivered their thoughts on 3D, the determination of Tintin, and what they learned about each other during their first Tintin adventure:

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Boiling Point

Listen, 3D is a contentious issue. Lots of people hate 3D and let it be known almost daily. I guess I get it. I mean, sometimes 3D is done poorly. Sometimes it’s annoying. It’s kind of a gimmick. Then again, there has been some good 3D, too. Transformers: Dark of the Moon looked amazing, Thor and Captain America were both well done, and plenty of movies from My Bloody Valentine 3D to the Final Destination films (recent ones) have been fun in 3D. We’re also moving into a new age of 3D, one where some of the most respected directors in the world are making 3D films. Peter Jackson, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Francis Ford Coppola, Ridley Scott, all the major players are going to play with 3D and many of them love it – like Ridley Scott who said, perhaps exaggeratedly, that he’d never make a film without 3D again. So, for now, 3D is here to stay and while it can be imperfect, often it’s fun. There is one instance, however, when the 3D kind of sucks no matter what.

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After returning home at 4am after wherever that party was, Robert Fure, Jack Giroux and Cole Abaius blacked out in their hotel room overlooking the San Diego Convention Center and communicated their favorite moments of Day Two of Comic-Con through their shared dream state. If you read the first day’s best, you’ll recognize that not a lot of movie moments make the list, and that’s sadly because of a smaller presence here at the convention, but Day Two brought a bit more heat. And sand-filled nudity. Here are some of our favorite things from Day Two:

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In 1993, Peter Jackson was coming off Dead Alive and sitting firmly in the splatstick world of horror when he went into a theater to see Jurassic Park. The sights provided by Steven Spielberg, Stan Winston Studio and ILM had a profound effect on the freshman filmmaker from New Zealand – they propelled him practically mortgage his house in order to get a computer that could do the kinds of things he knew he wanted to do as a storyteller. The next year, he put out Heavenly Creatures. That was the first step in the road to buy dozens, then hundreds and now thousands of computers that make up WETA – the digital effects studio crafting The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn which is being directed by, of course, Steven Spielberg. The sphere of influence comes full circle here, and the footage and discussion offered up today by the two modern masters was an exciting promise that big adventure would soon be coming our way.

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Hell is one of those things that’s up for individual interpretation. Some people believe it’s a real place full of fire and brimstone, or it’s all made up, or it’s a state of mind. Some people think it’s a Shia LaBeouf marathon from which you can never turn away. So, with Hell as a setting, Hollywood basically has a blank slate. They can go the Old Testament route, or they can get more existential with it, or something in-between. (Even Hollywood can’t do the Shia LaBeouf marathon option. No studio would fund that.) As such, here are seven films and their take on the place bad folks go when they die. (Obviously, this contains spoilers for the films listed.)

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Everybody knows Andy Serkis as being the man who provides the motion capture performances for the revolutionary CG characters in Peter Jackson’s films. He was responsible for Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, he was the guy that made King Kong possible, and he’s playing the super smart ape Caesar in the upcoming Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which Jackson’s company WETA did the effects work on. So news that he is being looked at to bring another computer animated character to life should come as no surprise. In the most recent issue of “Empire”, which includes a lengthy feature on Apes, they talked to the film’s director Rupert Wyatt about what he was planning on doing next. He says that he’s looking to work with Serkis again to bring a classic work of literature to the big screen. The two want to make an adaptation of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”; the story set on an English farm that details the overthrow of the farmers by the animals and the subsequent corruption of the pig Napoleon when he becomes mad with power. You see, the animals are proletariat, the farmers are bourgeoisie, and the pig is like Stalin… you know what I’m talking about, you probably read this in high school English and remember it better than I do. The potential project is a ways off still and will probably hinge largely on the success or failure of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. But as […]

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The first images from The Hobbit have landed and they feature the high-intensity action of our favorite characters reading, sitting and smoking. Martin Freeman definitely looks the part. As usual, Peter Jackson doesn’t disappoint. There’s really nothing much more to say about it because the world is so detailed, and the production design, costuming and make-up crews are so expert that they’ve turned Sherlock Holmes’s partner into a daring short humanoid with hairy feet. Check out the picture, and check out a few more (including Gandalf looking like an OG against a tree) over at Entertainment Weekly:

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news round-up that takes place after the sun has set, as the title suggests. On Sunday’s it is a relaxed, refreshed look at what happened over the weekend. Which usually isn’t much, but we do our best. We open tonight with a new photo from Captain America: The First Avenger, a surprisingly detailed look at Red Skull released this weekend by Paramount Pictures. Surprisingly detailed in the make-up effects, which I believe to be some of the best we’ve seen this year. We’ll see how sinister Hugo Weaving plays it, but he looks good thus far. And because I love you, I’ve set up a full Captain America photo gallery here.

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published: 04.16.2014
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published: 04.14.2014
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