Miramax (owned by Disney) acquired the rights to The Lord of the Rings in 1996 but backed out of the deal in 1998 when Peter Jackson presented his budget. New Line Cinema (owned by Time Warner) stepped in and, under producer Barrie Osborne, stepped up to the plate. The three installments cost a toal of $270M to produce, and that's before marketing costs were added, not to mention the vaseline budget for the cameras filming Liv Tyler.
So, here's a toast to the money guys who said Yes to a director whose pitch must have gone something like this:
- I'd like to film one of the most beloved and jealously protected literary properties in history.
- I'd like to turn it into a sword-and-dwarves epic that will run somewhere between 9 and 11 hours.
- I plan on shooting the largest, most complex battle scenes in history. And you can trust me to do it based on my work in Heavenly Creatures.
- We will have to invent the most convincing CGI effects ever. In fact, the pivotal character will be made of pixels. And you can trust me to bring true humanity to the art of digital acting based on my breakthrough work in Meet the Feebles.
- A work of this scale will require marshalling 25,000 people over the course of several years. And I think I proved my ability to do so with Valley of the Stereos.
All hail Peter Jackson! But thanks, for once, to the money people who took the leap with him.