Peter Jackson has been giving interviews to mark the end of the process of making The Hobbit trilogy, which combined with the Lord of the Rings make up a series of six films that have taken his company almost fifteen years to complete. Already the films have grossed $4.89 billion in worldwide box office takings and by the time The Battle Of The Five Armies, the finale to The Hobbit trilogy, plays out, the total may reach $6 billion.
Now, in an interview posted on the Deadline blog, Jackson has admitted that he probably would have started on the remake of The Dam Busters four or five years ago, having handed over directorial duties on The Hobbit to Guillermo del Toro. But del Toro left this project in May 2010 and Jackson stepped back behind the camera, saying that it was important to protect Warner Bros’ investment. He admits that all the time since there has been pressure on him to say what he will be doing next:
I’ve had so many people the last five years come and ask, ‘When are you going to make The Dam Busters? When are you going to make The Dam Busters?’ Honestly, you ask me what I got out of five years of making The Hobbit? It was me feeling like I have to make The Dam Busters, because of the endless people asking, ‘When are you going to make The Dam Busters?…
[W]e still have the rights, and it’s one in a little pot of movies. We don’t have a next movie nailed down, but certainly The Dam Busters is one of them. There is only a limited span I can abide, of people driving me nuts asking me when I’m going to do that project. So I’ll have to do it. I want to, actually, it’s one of the truly great true stories of the Second World War, a wonderful, wonderful story.
I reckon that’s as near as we have come to a real commitment from Jackson to make the film. But when will it happen? He has a pretty busy schedule: Hobbit 3 is due for worldwide release in December 2014, and then there is the small matter of the second Tintin movie, scheduled for release in 2016, which he is also due to direct. (He did a deal with Steven Spielberg.) He won’t be directing The Dam Busters, but it will surely take up quite a bit of his time so it could fit into his schedule here – before a third Tintin movie, so far untitled.
If The Dam Busters is ever going to get to the clapperboard stage, the next thing to expect would be news that the difficulties with the screenplay have been ironed out, that the director is confirmed (a role earmarked eight years ago for Jackson protegé, Christian Rivers) and, most important of all, that Universal Pictures and Studio Canal are still behind the project.
Watch this space.
Maybe it’s a mark of how far this subject has dropped off the radar, but I have only just caught up with a four-month-old snippet of news from Down Under. New Zealand Herald film critic Dominic Corry met Christian Rivers at the premiere of The Hobbit last December (yes really!), and asked him what was the situation with the remake of everyone’s favourite 1955 war film.
In 2008, it was announced that Jackson would produce a remake of 1955 World War II classic The Dam Busters, which was to be directed by Weta staple Christian Rivers (who won a special effects Oscar for his work on King Kong). The project seemed a natural fit for a war plane-obsessed ‘wingnut’ like Peter Jackson, but nothing has come to pass as yet, despite a bunch of replica planes having apparently already been built for the project.
I spoke to Rivers briefly on the red carpet at the Wellington premiere of The Hobbit, and he told me they are still planning to make the film but that it’s on hold at the moment due to script issues. I hope it happens eventually – there’s such a wealth of creativity at Weta, it seems crazy that we haven’t seen a film come out of that talent pool yet.
‘Script issues’ eh? To me, the problem is time. Jackson and his cohorts are getting a whole lot of moolah for spinning out The Hobbit over three films. Then there’s the small matter of a sequel to Tintin, and various other fantasy film projects. A remake of The Dam Busters, however much it might appeal to readers of this blog and a few million other war film buffs, would never make as much money as these high profile movies. That’s the way the economics of the film industry works.
On the other hand, we can’t discount the fact that Jackson is a self-confessed aero nut, and is probably still personally committed to the project. And so is Christian Rivers, despite the rumour a year or so ago that he was off doing something else.
Jackson’s involvement in the Dambusters remake was originally announced in 2006. Will we see it completed by the tenth anniversary of this historic day? I wouldn’t bet on it.
[Hat tip: Wings over New Zealand Forum.]
I can’t believe that I missed this, more than three years ago! When filming their Last Chance to See natural history TV programme, Stephen Fry and Mark Carwardine interviewed Peter Jackson in New Zealand. And there, right in the hangar, was one of the full size model Lancasters built for the Dambusters remake.
A very perceptive recent visitor to this blog has sent me these screen shots, taken from the programme which was first broadcast in 2009:
From these pictures, the level of detailing on the model seems extraordinary.
In recent interviews, Jackson has said that ten models have been built. It is noticeable, however, that only one seems to have been on show here.
By the way, this edition of Last Chance to See became notorious for a film clip showing the very rare kakapo flightless parrot attempting to mate with Mark Carwardine’s head. Far be it from me to suggest that you amuse yourselves by watching it again on Youtube.
Much respect, Ali P(lumb). While every other film journalist has kept to Middle Earthy subjects in their recent questioning of Peter Jackson, Empire Magazine’s finest video interviewer slipped in a query about a much more important subject (to readers of this blog, at least).
Plumb: “What is the current state of the Dambusters project?”
Jackson: “Dambusters is on hold waiting for me to finish The Hobbit. The Hobbit wasn’t something I intended to get involved in [as much] as I did, so there was an option at one stage I’d be shooting The Dambusters while Guillermo [del Toro] was shooting The Hobbit, but as things ended up going, The Dambusters has just had to sit on the sidelines.”
“But it’s there. The Lancasters are built. We’ve got ten Lancs built for us sitting in storage. And it’s ready to go as soon as we possibly can.”
So there we have it. The one person who can decide when the Dambusters remake will proceed has given a firm commitment that it will happen. One day.
When I started this blog four and a half years ago one of my first posts predicted that we would have to wait to ‘at least 2011’ to see the remake on our screens. Foolish me! The film world has its own logic and moves at its own pace. But at least we now have it on the best authority possible — the Dambusters remake is on, and will appear some time. Exactly when? I suspect no one knows.
My good friend Dom Howard kindly recorded Stephen Fry’s very brief reference to the Dambusters remake on The One Show on BBC1 last night.
Receiving an award for “Most Consistent Attempt to Remake a Film” the great man revealed that he will be flying out to New Zealand “next Monday” for talks with Peter Jackson on “restarting” the remake. Rest assured, gentle readers, that they will be taking nothing away from the original, “one of the greatest British films ever made… Peter is still passionate about it, and so am I”.
(And, if this is your first time reading this blog, please don’t waste your time writing in about the dog’s name. It won’t be published. See this post for the reason why.)
Pic: Natasha Baucas
Sources tell us that some quiet progress is being made on filming the remake of The Dam Busters.
(A brief recap for those not familiar with the project. This story has been going on since 2006, when David Frost bought the rights to remake the 1955 original, which was directed by Michael Anderson and starred Richard Todd and Michael Redgrave. Peter Jackson of Lord of the Rings fame became the producer, announced that it would be called Dambusters and made in New Zealand, under the direction of Christian Rivers with a script by Stephen Fry. A full size model Lancaster bomber was built, and unveiled to the press in 2009. However, Jackson is now busy filming The Hobbit, so is obviously not giving the Dambusters project his full attention.)
Sources have told us that some CGI and special effects work is now being undertaken in workshops in New Zealand. Some of this involves models – one of the spinning bomb in the bomb bay – and some is completely generated on computers. This kind of work is laborious and time-consuming and is essential if the project is to meet the high standards of a Jackson-helmed production.
No actual casting has yet been announced, so the date when real life filming will begin is still a matter of speculation. I said at the time I started this blog, in 2008, that 2011 would be the earliest possible date that the film would appear. It now looks as though it could be 2013 or 2014. May 2013 will be the seventieth anniversary of the Dams Raid, so this could be a date which the producers will aim for.
Pic: Dominion Post
It may not look much, but the arrival of a filthy Second World War truck into a New Zealand port is the first bit of news about the Dambusters remake that we have had for months. Apparently it was covered with live spiders and other creepy crawlies, and had to be thoroughly cleansed and fumigated to comply with the country’s strict Biosecurity laws.
Quite why the Jackson outfit need a genuine truck, which will probably cost thousands to repair, rather than a life size replica is difficult to say. Perhaps it is to given a yet-to-be-disclosed leading role.
[Hat tip: Graeme Stevenson]