We celebrate the award-winning director, producer and screenwriter Peter Jackson on his 58th birthday today. Take a look at some of his timeless and groundbreaking blockbusters that we still love and enjoy.
The Oscar-winning, critically acclaimed Lord of the Rings (LOTR) trilogy grossed nearly $3 billion worldwide at the box-office. In 2003, "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" swept the Academy Awards, winning all of the eleven categories in which it was nominated, including Best Picture - the first-ever Best Picture win for a fantasy film. The trilogy's mammoth production was also unprecedented at the time due to its technology and scale.
Peter Jackson said during the initial press release of the making of LOTR, "Filming three films at once has never been done before, in addition to which the project features state-of-the-art special effects, so it was essential to plan everything down to the last detail. We owe Professor Tolkien and his legion of fans worldwide our very best efforts to make these films with the integrity they deserve."
In 2004, Jackson won numerous Best Director awards for "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King", including the Academy Award, Golden Globe and Directors Guild of America. Jackson was also awarded Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay) during the 2004 Academy Awards for "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King." We can’t even begin to list the number of nominations for all three films for various awards including the Academy Awards.
Once again, Jackson shaped the course of cinematic history with his three-film adaptation of "The Hobbit", which was filmed in 3D.
"Exploring Tolkien's Middle-earth goes way beyond a normal filmmaking experience," said Jackson. "It's an all-immersive journey into a very special place of imagination, beauty and drama."
In his production video blogs, Jackson revealed that filming in 3D was a dream come true, something he wished he could have done for "The Lord of the Rings."
"I love it when a film draws you in and you become part of the experience," said Jackson. "3D helps immerse you in the film."
"If I had the ability to shoot 'The Lord of the Rings' in 3D, I certainly would have done it," Jackson reminisces. "What I actually did on 'The Lord of the Rings' was I had 3D camera taking 3D photographs. Hopefully, one day, maybe even on 3D Blu-ray, we might be able to actually show you 3D photos from 10 or 12 years ago."
Filming "The Hobbit" was no easy task, as Jackson reveals in his vlogs, in fact, the making of the films was an unexpected journey itself.
"It is either a joy or a bad dream, I’m not actually sure which" said Jackson during the production of "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." In one of the vlogs, he revealed that "thirteen dwarves is one of the reasons why I dreaded 'The Hobbit' and why I really didn’t think I was going to make it for such a long time." He said, "the irony is that it has turned out to be one of the joys of the film."
On the first day of filming "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey", Jackson told his cast and crew that "for a long time I thought that going back to the amazing experience of 'The Lord of the Rings'wouldn’t be a good idea. But really, you know, now, I’ve come to completely around because…films are stressful and they’re hard to make. But ultimately what makes them fun is the people that you work with and the fact that, you know, we’re going to be working with a lot of the old gang, with a lot of friends, and obviously making some new friends is really the point of being here. So, I’m extremely thrilled."
On returning to some of the same sets from "The Lord of the Rings," Jackson and some of the cast and crew revealed how they never thought they would have returned 11 years later.
"It's weird when you come back to the place that you literally thought you'd never see again, to be standing there with Elijah [Wood] dressed up as Frodo,” laughs Jackson. 'It was the nearest thing I think I will ever come to a time machine."
But for the audience, the seamless transition of the two franchises makes it unnoticeable that there is over a decade of separation between LOTR and "The Hobbit." Jackson admits that it is not without the help of the cast and crew that he was able to bring these films to life.
"You know as a director, it can be kind of lonely job," said Jackson. "At times you feel like you're by yourself trying to solve problems but then everybody steps in and suddenly I realize I've got this incredible support and a lot of you guys have got my back and you're behind me. And for that, I am incredibly grateful."
The acclaimed documentary by Jackson applied stunning restoration of footage from more than a century ago. "They Shall Not Grow Old" took in $8.34 million during its Fathom Events dates, making it the highest-grossing U.S. Cinema Fathom release ever. Jackson received rapturous praise from both critics and audiences, earning a BAFTA Award nomination for Best Documentary.
Applying state-of-the-art restoration, colorization and 3D technologies to century-old footage, carefully chosen from 600 hours of BBC archival interviews of original World War I film held in the archives of the Imperial War Museum (IWM), Jackson created an intensely gripping, immersive and authentic cinematic experience.
Jackson, whose grandfather fought in World War I, captured the day-to-day experience of its soldiers and reveals the reality of war for those on the front line: their attitudes about the conflict; their camaraderie and their need for humor amidst the horror; the functions of daily life in the trenches; and what their lives were like during periods of rest.
"I grew up hearing stories of my family's involvement in the military in places such as Gallipoli," said Jackson on his Facebook page. "My own parents came from the era of the Second World War."
"We must always remember the service of those past generations, as well as the veterans of more recent overseas deployments – those who served in places such as Bosnia, East Timor, Afghanistan and Iraq," reminded Jackson to his Facebook followers.
Jeff Goldstein, President, Domestic Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures Goldstein stated, "Peter Jackson’s documentary is a towering achievement of film restoration that has conquered the ravages of time and stands as a fitting tribute to all those who fought and died in what was then called 'The War to End All Wars.'"
Read an extra 5 facts about "They Shall Not Grow Old."
To the man who brought these cinematic experiences from across the world over these years - Happy Birthday, Peter Jackson!