Quint interviews Peter Jackson about his next Fantasy Epic: Naomi Novik's TEMERAIRE series!!!
Published at: Sept. 13, 2006, 1:51 a.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. Hollywood Reporter broke the story this morning that Peter Jackson has gotten the rights to Naomi Novik's TEMERAIRE series (HIS MAJESTY'S DRAGON, THRONE OF JADE and THE BLACK POWDER WAR being the 3 books that have been released thus far, and all were released within the last year). I've read these books and am quite a fan of them. If you haven't read them, they're all out in softcover here in the States, for pretty cheap. I think Amazon has them at under $8 a pop.
Over the weekend I conducted a lengthy exclusive interview with Peter Jackson and we talked a lot about TEMERAIRE. At the time of the interview I knew there was something he wanted to talk about besides HALO, LOVELY BONES, DAMBUSTERS and whatever else he's been connected with already, but I didn't know what that one thing is. I found out during the interview. Here is our chat about his thoughts on TEMERAIRE as a series, if he's going to direct or not and all the other nitty gritty details you could want for a project that was announced less than an hour ago! Enjoy!!!
PETER JACKSON: I'm happy to talk about whatever you want to talk about this morning. And we've got this other thing that we can talk about...
QUINT: Do you want to start with that?
PETER JACKSON: Yeah, sure. It's something we've been doing quietly over the last few months, but it's all wrapped up now. Fran (Walsh) and Philippa (Boyens) and I have acquired the option for the TEMERAIRE books by Naomi Novik.
PETER JACKSON: Yeah, I saw your review. We got the galleys sent to us, which has never happened before. I keep reading that filmmakers see the galleys of books, but we've never been sent a thing...
QUINT: Strangely enough, they handed out a little preview book at Comic-Con that I saw had a quote from my review on it... and I said something like, "This'd make a great movie!"
PETER JACKSON: (laughs) Yeah... We just... you know, we wanted something... We're doing these small movies, which is great and we're enjoying that, but we just wanted something that exciting and fantastical that we could start to think about and start to work on and develop. We read these books and thought they were really great. I'm a complete sucker for that world of history combined with the fantastical.
QUINT: It's very unique. Are you planning on adding this into your producer queue or...
PETER JACKSON: No, no... I'm not sure. I mean, I love the books and it may well be that I'm going to shoot them. I don't know. I'm just going to see... LOVELY BONES has been occupying our minds for the last few months, we haven't really dared to delve too much into (TEMERAIRE). We've only recently completed the work to secure the rights to these, anyway, so we haven't allowed ourselves to get too excited yet until it was all done.
The one thing I am going to do is I'll start the guys at WETA designing some things. We've just acquired the rights ourselves. We haven't gone in conjunction with a studio or anything else. We just bought it ourselves.
The thing we'll do is we'll develop the screenplays on spec and then we'll design it. Which is really the first thing I want to do, is have Weta do a design pass of the characters and the world. Get Gus (Hanson) and those guys to have a go at it, which we'll do at some point when the HALO stuff is mainly done. So, we'll start with that and once THE LOVELY BONES gets all tied up and in good shape we'll start to think about this series.
I don't really know yet how we'll structure it, because obviously it's more than one film, for sure, so it'll be interesting to just have a think about that. And it's the future books, too... I think Naomi is already doing her 4th book and I think she's planning a 5th and 6th book as well. We've optioned all TEMERAIRE books, including future ones.
QUINT: Strangely enough I had the galleys for the 2nd and 3rd books, too. I didn't know how I was going to react to the books since I don't read fantasy too often, but you're right. I really grabbed on to that kind of MASTER AND COMMANDER type story set in a more fantastic world. I've always loved the What If? stories... and this is very much like that. What if Napoleon and the English had air combat during the Napoleonic wars?
PETER JACKSON: I love that, too. I love it where the history is authentic 80% of the time, but we've got 20% of Fantasy in there, which is fantastic. It's not really used that much in film, either. I find it to be exciting because it mends particular genres, which in themselves have not been well-realized on film, certainly not commercially. You know, the Napoleonic Epic, Napoleonic Sea Battles plus dragons... It's a problematic area, but I think linking the two and using the great characters and the intrigue and the politics, which is what I enjoy...
You know, it's not just about the dragons and the battles, it's the other stuff in the detailed world she created. I love even just the concept of how the flying corp are looked down upon by the traditional navy. It's all about the English Class system, that's what makes it really interesting. And there are parallels to Tolkien in the sense that it is complex. It's going to be a lot of fun, actually.
QUINT: I was racking my brains trying to figure out what this big announcement was going to be...
PETER JACKSON: It's the first time it's ever happened! I actually got the jump on you, which is great! I'm also interested in exploring a sort of interactive... not video games as we know them today, but something that sort of melds a serialized interactive entertainment somehow. I just got interested in that area and I've been looking for something that'd be suitable for that. It's early days yet.
What I love about what George Lucas has done with STAR WARS, which I think is really cool, is that you have the movies and the movies, obviously, are the flagships of the saga, of the storytelling, but you have the comic books and the novels and everything that fills out what happens inbetween the films and what happens in other places while the films are occurring. I love that expansion of the world. This is, to me, has also got the same possibilities. The movies can be the epics and there can be other forms of entertainment that can be running alongside the movies, expanding the world of the books and the story.
QUINT: One thing I like about the TEMERAIRE project is that the series is really new and while it's out there, it's not a phenomenon yet. It can really be a surprise to the audience.
PETER JACKSON: Yeah. I like it because it's a story we've never seen before, it's a world that we've actually never seen. Apart from films like MASTER AND COMMANDER and (HORATIO) HORNBLOWER and a couple of things... even without the fantasy it's a world that's very rarely ever been told on the screen. It doesn't have to be dry and boring and historical and PBS. It doesn't have to be any of that stuff. It's vibrant and exciting and dynamic and thrilling. It should have a sort of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK quality to it as well.
There you have it. As a fan of this series, I'm excited at the prospect of Jackson using it as a return to Epic Fantasy. Word on the street is I'm going to be on the phone with author Naomi Novik tomorrow, so I'll be sure to dig up more information for you folks. If you haven't read the first 3 books, do yourselves a favor and head to the local bookstore or click on the links above and pick 'em up. Good reading!
Keep an eye out over the next week. I'll be posting at least once a day with a new piece of my interview with Peter Jackson. We talk at length about THE LOVELY BONES, HALO, DAMBUSTERS, THE HOBBIT and even some low budget schlockers he might sneak into his busy schedules. 'Til then, this is Quint bidding you all a fond farewell and adieu!!!