Peter Jackson

Eumenis Megalopoulos | Jun 26, 2023

Table of Content


Sir Peter Robert Jackson is a New Zealand director, producer and screenwriter, born on 31 October 1961 in Wellington.

Peter Jackson began his career with the horror comedies Bad Taste (1987), The Feebles (1989) and Braindead (1992), which allowed him to gain a certain reputation among fantasy film fans. He also won the Grand Prix at the 1993 Avoriaz International Fantastic Film Festival for Braindead. The critical success of Heavenly Creatures (1994) launched his career, then he experienced worldwide success with the trilogy The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003), a revival of King Kong (2005), as well as with the trilogy The Hobbit (2012-2014) (the two trilogies are adapted from the books of J. R. R. Tolkien). As of 2017, he is working on the documentary series The Beatles: Get Back, which airs online in 2021.

He has his own production company: WingNut Films. His most regular collaborators are producers and co-writers Fran Walsh (also his wife) and Philippa Boyens, special effects technicians Richard Taylor, Christian Rivers and Joe Letteri, visual designer Alan Lee, editor Jamie Selkirk and director of photography Andrew Lesnie. He has won three Oscars, including Best Director (2004), and is the third highest-grossing director of all time, with his films earning over $6.5 billion.

He was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2002 for his services to film, and was knighted in the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2010 for the same reasons. He was also made a Member of the Order of New Zealand in 2012, New Zealand's highest civilian honor for extraordinary service to the Crown. Finally, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2014.

Youth and training

Peter Robert Jackson was born in Wellington and grew up on Pukerua Bay. At the age of eight, he found his vocation: with the Super 8 camera of his parents, he made his first steps in directing. He already showed an attraction for special effects, creating, with little means, tricks inspired by those of Ray Harryhausen. At the age of nine, the vision of King Kong marks him forever and he feels from then on a director's soul. At the age of thirteen, he shot a mini remake of his cult film in the family garden with a King Kong figurine, a model of the Empire State Building and small toys, faithfully recreating the famous final scene in which the monstrous gorilla battles a squadron of planes.

After making a few short films, he obtained sufficient funding to make his first feature film, Bad Taste, released in 1987. It is a gory horror film with a parodic tone that tells the story of the arrival on Earth of a band of anthropophagous aliens. This film, shot with his friends during weekends over a period of four years, will become cult. It is also at this time that he meets Fran Walsh, his future wife and mother of his children, and also an important collaborator.

First films and special effects

In 1989, he continued to make The Feebles, an erotic and trashy parody that was an iconoclastic retelling of The Muppet Show. The film was shot in twelve weeks in a shed where the nice puppets paradoxically become horrible individuals involved in drugs, corruption and murder.

In 1992, Peter Jackson directed Braindead, a gory film with a sharp sense of humor that revealed him to the general public. It is a zombie film with bloody and outrageous activities, populated with stupid undead and animated with killing scenes that will become cult for the fans of the genre. This film was his first feature film with professional actors, and won the Grand Prix at the Avoriaz festival. However, for many, Jackson's reputation seems to be made and critics consider him as a young and not very serious director, capable of making only horror films with extreme scenes and crazy humor.

In 1993, he joined forces with Richard Taylor - founder of Weta Workshop, a special effects studio specialized in prosthetics and make-up (who had already worked on The Feebles) - to found a new division, Weta Digital, dedicated to digital special effects.

Fantastic cinema and critical revelation (1990s)

In 1994, he made the surprising Heavenly Creatures, a poetic, heartbreaking and dreamlike drama, inspired by a true crime case which in its time fascinated New Zealand. It is the story of a matricide committed by two young girls, one of whom became the novelist Anne Perry. The film won a Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival, garnered a slew of awards at various festivals and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Screenplay. It also revealed the actress Kate Winslet (the heroine of the film Titanic). Heavenly Creatures propels Peter Jackson into the ranks of respected filmmakers and proves that he can tell more serious stories than those of a mysterious rat, or the sexual excesses of puppets...

In 1995, he co-directed Forgotten Silver, a true masterpiece. This fake documentary, in the spirit of those of Orson Welles, is about a New Zealand filmmaker, Collin McKenzie, who is said to have invented most of the techniques of modern cinema - talking pictures, color film, etc. - and who is said to be the inventor of the first film. - The audience believes it and is lulled into believing it. The public believed it and was fooled even though McKenzie never existed. The deception was officially revealed a few days later and the film assured Peter Jackson a permanent place in the hearts of New Zealanders.

Hollywood courted him, and he signed with Universal to direct The Frighteners, a comedy starring Michael J. Fox (Back to the Future) as a ghost hunter. However, reluctant to shoot in Hollywood, the director proposed to Universal that the production be relocated to New Zealand, home of his studios and his special effects company (and near-film-free landscapes), where he was used to working. These conditions were accepted, as Jackson also proved that production costs would be reduced.

During the shooting, he received several proposals from Hollywood studios for other projects, including a remake of Planet of the Apes, an adaptation of Lord of the Rings and another remake, that of King Kong. While the direction of Planet of the Apes is finally devolved to Tim Burton, Peter Jackson takes an option on the Lord of the Rings, and chooses to devote himself to King Kong, his childhood love. However, the commercial failure of Ghosts vs. Ghosts, then the imminent release of two competing films - Godzilla by Roland Emmerich and My Friend Joe - prompted Universal to cancel the project. Jackson then tackled the ambitious film adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien's saga, to which he devoted more than seven years of his life.

The Lord of the Rings and consecration (1999-2003)

Miramax, the first investor, first wanted two films, then finally only one. Wishing to remain faithful to Tolkien (although the author had not originally conceived his novel as a trilogy), Peter Jackson finally succeeded in convincing New Line Cinema to make three films, corresponding to the three volumes of the saga: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Peter Jackson wrote the screenplay with his wife Fran Walsh, as well as Philippa Boyens and Stephen Sinclair. The films were released in theaters and were shot simultaneously from September 1999 to December 2000 in New Zealand. They lasted from two hours and fifty-one minutes to three hours and twelve minutes. There is a long version of each film (228, 235 and 263 minutes).

They take advantage of wild landscapes, while exploiting many visual effects techniques provided by Weta Workshop and Weta Digital, some proven and others revolutionary. They feature a host of actors, including Ian McKellen, Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Bean, Orlando Bloom, Liv Tyler and Christopher Lee.

Launched in December 2001, 2002 and 2003, they were released simultaneously in many countries, notably in Europe, America and New Zealand. It was a total success, both artistically and commercially: a largely positive international review, 17 Oscars (out of 29 nominations) for the entire trilogy and more than three billion dollars in revenue for a starting price of three hundred million. On a personal note, Peter Jackson won the Oscar for Best Director in 2004 for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. This trilogy surpassed the most optimistic forecasts, in addition to bringing back to the forefront a cinematographic genre, fantasy, which was previously unloved.

From King Kong to Lovely Bones (2004-2009)

After the success of The Lord of the Rings, Peter Jackson was immediately approached by Universal for the King Kong project, a remake of the original 1933 film. He signed a major contract for a budget of over $200 million, with a salary of $20 million for him and his co-writers plus a 20% profit-sharing bonus, making him one of the highest paid directors in Hollywood. To bring the new version of King Kong to the big screen, he called on his usual collaborators: Frances Walsh and Philippa Boyens who signed the script with him, and Richard Taylor who designed the special effects.

It is a three-hour film, a true remake of the original film by Merian C. Cooper, shot in Wellington Bay with a reconstruction of New York in 1933, 3,000 shots recreated in great detail using special effects, a network of removable streets, 1,700 extras and 1,300 technicians. The cast includes Naomi Watts (Mulholland Drive), Jack Black (Extra Large Love), Adrien Brody (The Pianist) and Andy Serkis, the interpreter of Gollum in The Lord of the Rings. Filming began a month after the death of the actress Fay Wray, who had played in the original film and whom Jackson wanted to appear in his revival to deliver the final line. The world premiere of King Kong took place on December 5, 2005 in New York for a worldwide release in late 2005. The film was consistently cited as one of the best films of the year and won three Oscars at the 78th Academy Awards in 2006. The receipts amount to 556 million dollars, the film made 3.5 million entries in France.

After King Kong, Peter Jackson is working on a less ambitious project than his previous films. However, with a budget of 65 million dollars and a viral marketing, the film is not very intimate. It is the film adaptation of the novel The Angel's Longing by Alice Sebold called Lovely Bones. The cast includes Saoirse Ronan and Mark Wahlberg; the film is produced by DreamWorks. The film was released in early 2010 worldwide. The success will not really be there. Commercially, with 93 million dollars at the Box-Office, the film does not meet the advertising expenses, the film does not exceed 300,000 entries in France, the competition was particularly high (The Princess and the Frog and Avatar). Artistically, critics were very mixed on the film, wandering between drama and thriller, the film falls into the clumsiness.

The trial with New Line and the shooting of The Hobbit movies (2010s)

In March 2005, Peter Jackson sued New Line, claiming that he had lost the merchandising revenue from The Fellowship of the Ring, the first part of the trilogy. Although the director considered the lawsuit minor and thought that New Line would let him direct the film again, his co-founder Robert Shaye was very affected by the lawsuit and declared in January 2007 that the director will not direct any new film for New Line, accusing him of being too "greedy" and even going so far as to call him a "short-sighted and arrogant individual", regretting "the loss of a friend." He is therefore removed from the project, the production seeking a new director in February 2007 for a release in 2009.

On December 30, 2009, Peter Jackson was made a Knight of the New Zealand Order of Merit, the first British title of nobility. This award was given to him for his "services to cinema".

By August 2007, tensions were easing between the director and the production, thanks in part to the project, which fans and actors could not imagine without him. That's why The Hobbit was officially launched in December of the same year for a 2010 release (the film was eventually delayed by a year), with Peter Jackson as executive producer, refusing to take on the director's role for fear of being dissatisfied with the final result given the scale of his "trilogy" and of competing with it. Sam Raimi then began serious negotiations with the New Line, being the favorite of Peter Jackson, before Guillermo del Toro was appointed as director. However, on May 31, 2010, Guillermo del Toro resigned as director due to the many delays and financial problems accumulated by MGM. However, he remains in his position as co-writer. After this artistic blur, it is announced that Peter Jackson will occupy the roles of producer and director. The latter confirms in mid-October 2010 that the shooting of the two parts in 3D will begin in March 2011. At the end of October the green light is given for the production of the film, the actors are revealed and the dates confirmed. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is released in December 2012, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug in December 2013 and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies in December 2014. The trilogy will be a commercial triumph bringing in nearly three billion dollars at the box office, more than making up for the 250 million budget for each installment. However, the critical reception is overall mixed, unlike that of The Lord of the Rings, which was very positive.

Tintin and The Beatles: Get back (years 2010 - 2020)

Together with Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson is producing the film adaptation of Tintin. To animate the characters of the famous comic strip by Hergé, Weta Digital uses a new process of motion capture. Spielberg directs the first film and Jackson the second. It is a large-scale production with a budget of around 100 million dollars. The first opus, The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, was released in Belgium and France on October 26, 2011.

In the context of the release of his last film as director, on March 26, 2018, Steven Spielberg says that Peter Jackson will get down to filming Tintin 2 the release of his documentary at the end of 2018. Post-production must be planned, so no film release before 2021 (10 years after the first film).

As part of the 90th anniversary of the Tintin comic book series, on January 10, 2019, the project of a second Tintin film was confirmed by the editorial director of Casterman. No news since then from both the publisher and the producers. Nearly ten years after the first film, the project seems again at a standstill.

As of 2017, Peter Jackson is working on a very special project. During January 1969, the Beatles rehearsed and recorded under the watchful eye of Michael Lindsay-Hogg's continuously rolling cameras; the album Let It Be and the film of the same name were made in 1970. But about 60 hours of the filming, ending with a private concert on the roof of their Apple Corps building, remained unreleased for more than fifty years. Peter Jackson spent more than three years digging into these archives, which he was the first to be able to view, restore and show. The result is a three-part documentary of two hours each, entitled The Beatles: Get Back, to be released on November 25, 2021 on the Disney+ platform. While the 1970 film emphasized the setbacks of a band breaking up, Peter Jackson intends to "break the myth." He states: "I was relieved to discover that the reality is different from the myth. After reviewing the footage and sound recordings made by Michael Lindsay-Hogg eighteen months before their breakup, I discovered a priceless historical document. Of course there is tension, but none of the discord that is often associated with this project. Watching John, Paul, George and Ringo work together to create these classics is not only fascinating, but also funny, exhilarating and surprisingly intimate. He also says, "It's kind of an impossible fan dream. I would have loved to get into a time machine and sit in the corner while they worked. Just one day, just watching them, and I'd be sitting there, really quiet. Well, do you know what? The time machine is here now.


For a while, Peter Jackson toyed with the idea of producing a film adaptation of the popular game Halo, which was to be shot in 2007. The project is still at a standstill because the two studios that had committed to finance it, 20th Century Fox and Universal, finally found the adventure too risky.

Personal life

He is married to the producer and writer Fran Walsh, with whom he has three children.

N.B.: Before undertaking his first feature film, Bad Taste, Peter Jackson directed five short films: The Dwarf Patrol, World War 2, The Valley, James Bond and Curse of the Gravetaker.

As a director

Cameos :

As a producer

Peter Jackson's films have earned $6.65 billion worldwide, making him the third highest grossing filmmaker in film history behind James Cameron ($7.84 billion) and Steven Spielberg ($10.67 billion).


  1. Peter Jackson
  2. Peter Jackson
  3. ^ Christopher Lee remarked about having twelve takes for one scene, and later he was told by Ian McKellen he did 24 takes for two lines the previous day.
  4. Prononciation en anglais néo-zélandais retranscrite selon la norme API.
  5. (en) Ian Pryor, Peter Jackson : from Prince of splatter to Lord of the rings (ISBN 9781466872608 et 1466872608, OCLC 880353104, lire en ligne), p. 25
  6. Delphine de Freitas, « "The Beatles : Get Back" : le docu inédit de Peter Jackson sera diffusé à l’automne sur Disney+ », sur, 18 juin 2021 (consulté le 15 novembre 2021)
  7. ^ Box Office Mojo, su URL consultato il 2 settembre 2007 (archiviato dall'url originale il 12 giugno 2004).
  8. ^ This gorilla of a film is blockbuster of the year, su Daily Mail, 5 dicembre 2005.
  9. ^ (EN) Peter Jackson to Get Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame.
  10. ^ Roberto Nepoti, Lo splatter (il montaggio) e l'imago del corpo in frammenti, in The Body Vanishes. La crisi dell'identità e del soggetto nel cinema americano contemporaneo, Torino, Lindau, 2000.
  11. Peter Jackson // Encyclopædia Britannica (англ.)
  12. Peter Jackson // — 2005.

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