Best Known For
New Zealand native Peter Jackson is best known as a director for his adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy, which won 11 Oscars.
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The finished picture, called Bad Taste, debuted at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival, where it became a surprise hit and landed distribution deals in 12 countries.
Following the success of Bad Taste, in 1989 Jackson made a raunchy puppet film called Meet the Feebles that critics alternatively found repulsive and hilarious; it developed a devoted cult following. In 1993, he released his first professional live action film, Braindead (released as Dead Alive in the United States), which won considerable acclaim among horror movie aficionados, despite being one of the goriest films ever made.
Jackson broke out into decidedly different territory as the screenwriter and director of the 1994 film Heavenly Creatures, a disturbing dramatization of a famous New Zealand matricide case from the 1950s. Starring a then-unknown actress named Kate Winslet, Heavenly Creatures earned Jackson an Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay.
Looking for an ambitious project to test his directorial skills, in the mid-1990s Jackson latched on to the idea of making film versions of J.R.R. Tolkien's classic trilogy of fantasy novels, The Lord of the Rings. An avid fan of the novels, Jackson said, "I read the book when I was 18 years old and thought then, 'I can't wait till the movie comes out.' Twenty years later, no one had done it—so I got impatient."
After winning the film rights in 1997, it took Jackson several years to find a film studio that shared his vision of three separate films all filmed at once on location in New Zealand. New Line Cinema finally agreed to finance the project on Jackson's terms; after a year and a half of filming, The Fellowship of the Rings was released to widespread international popularity and critical acclaim in December 2001. The second film in the trilogy, The Two Towers, was released a year later in 2002, and the third installment, The Return of the King, followed in 2003.
The highest grossing film trilogy in history, with more than $2.9 billion in worldwide box office revenue, as well as one of the most acclaimed series of all time with 17 Academy Awards and 30 nominations, The Lord of the Rings established Peter Jackson as one of the world's greatest directors. The Return of the King, widely considered the greatest fantasy film ever made, matched Titanic (1997) and Ben-Hur (1959) for the most Oscar wins by a single film with 11, including Best Director for Jackson.
In the wake of the enormous success of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Jackson fulfilled a childhood dream by remaking King Kong, the film that had so inspired him as a child. Released in 2005, King Kong was another box office smash. After nearly two decades of continuous work, Jackson took several years off from directing before returning to direct the 2009 film adaptation of Alice Sebold's novel The Lovely Bones. He also signed up to work on the film adaptation of The Hobbit, Tolkien's prequel to The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
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