Lord Of The Rings: The cast and crew of the Lord Of The Rings films recently talked to USA Today about the now immensely popular films:
"Everybody feels we are paying off the story now," says Jackson, taking a rare breather. "The scenes tend to be the more emotionally charged, which is why the actors enjoyed them and why I enjoyed filming them. It absolutely has to be the best. We owe it to people."
The highlight of the closer, which the director confirms could run longer than the three-hour length of its predecessors, is the thunderous clash at Pelennor Fields. The fierce faceoff between the good citizens of Middle-earth and the dark forces of Lord Sauron promises to make the skirmish of Helm's Deep in The Two Towers look like a hobbit family picnic.
Bolstered by previous success, Jackson is rather relaxed under the circumstances. "The mood's kind of enjoyable," he says. "I certainly don't feel as constrained this time around." But the confident calm he exudes belies the sense of urgency and purpose in the air that goes beyond the product on the screen.
The push is on. Not only to make The Return of the King even more awe-inducing than the rest, but also to ensure it wins the year's top Oscars, namely best picture and director. Jackson and company have been so far denied the prizes and fans have cried foul. The crusade for recognition commences with the release of the first Towers DVD.
"Peter is too humble a person to campaign himself," says Richard Taylor, a pal and collaborator for the past 15 years who oversees Weta Workshop, the acclaimed effects factory where sneering orc masks are molded and elven weaponry is forged. "He will leave it to the laps of the gods. He has bigger things to do ultimately. But it would be obviously wonderful if he were recognized for the superior director he is. There is no doubt in all of our minds that these films have a longevity, that they will be watched 60 years from now."
Not that Jackson and his talented team at the state-of-the-art facilities in suburban Miramar haven't already achieved feats that are nearly as legendary as those of his mythic heroes. The first two Rings films have collected a total of 19 Oscar nominations and won six. Together, they've grossed more than $1.8 billion worldwide, becoming the most successful fantasy series since Star Wars. Also, last year marked the first time since 1974's The Godfather: Part II that a sequel to a best-picture nominee also was selected as a contender.
And, apologies to Titanic's James Cameron, Jackson already is king of the world of directors in terms of salary and clout. Not only has he built his own filmmaking empire an ocean away from any Hollywood meddling. His next project is a dream come true, a retelling of the great-ape classic that inspired him to become a filmmaker, 1933's King Kong. At minimum, he'll be paid a record-high $20 million upfront for the privilege. That's beyond even Spielberg bucks.
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