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Peter Jackson gives us a Temeraire update!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. I was contacted by Paramount about doing a phone interview with Peter Jackson this past afternoon during his whirlwind round of promotion on The Lovely Bones. The full interview is in the transcription process now and should be up mid-week or earlier... we talk a ton about Stanley Tucci and the elements that didn't make the cut and even a little about Wingnut Games, Jackson's video game company. But in the meantime I wanted to post the below segment of the interview, focusing on his 2010 plans, specifically about his adaptation of Naomi Novik's Temeraire books. The Temeraire series is a kind of a what if? story set during the Napoleonic Wars. In this reality dragons exist, giving an aerial battle component to the predominantly naval and ground war. I'm a fan of the books and it's perfect material for Jackson and his crew... character driven action fantasy. Imagine Master and Commander with dragon attacks and you start to get the picture. What I love about this part of the interview is Jackson's willingness to talk about ideas that haven't formed yet. If you've read a lot of interviews, especially ones done with online outlets, you know the interviewee is always guarded about in-process material. Since things change so quickly in this business it can be dangerous to talk about ideas that aren't set in stone. But Jackson doesn't worry about that here, floating ideas that could very well (and probably will) change. Below is about 4 minutes of the 20 minutes I got with the man and he does mention Hobbit and a few other unnamed, unexplained "projects" also in the works for the rest of this year and all of next. Stay tuned for the whole enchilada to hit soon! Enjoy!

Quint: What's next? I'm particularly interested in where you guys are at with the Temeraire series and if you are going to be moving on that any time soon.

Peter Jackson: It's certainly a project that this next year... I've always looked on 2010 as being the year where I kind of get to the next level on a few projects because 2009 has been really the year of Lovely Bones and District 9 and getting TinTin motion captured and also getting most of The Hobbit script written. Certainly by the end of 2009 The Hobbit screenplay will be finished. So, that's that year taken care of and then 2010 is an opportunity to move on with several projects. What I'm thinking of with Temeraire, and I'm certainly happy to share it with you... it's only really my very initial, early stages... but Naomi (Novik, author of the Temeraire books) came out to New Zealand to visit us with her husband... she's absolutely terrific...

Quint: Yeah, they're good people. Her and Charles (Ardai, Naomi's husband and a gifted writer in his own right) both.

Peter Jackson: Yes. She's now starting to whisper to me that she's going to be writing 9 books in the Temeraire series. I can't see any degree of common sense in trying to mount them one at a time as feature films. To me the stories, having read the first ones, already work as this continuing, on-going saga, so I'm thinking "Is there a marketplace out there yet for a large budget mini-series?" I guess you'd think of things like HBO and you'd think of Band of Brothers and that sort of thing, but it'd be different than that. The market's changing so much, TV networks are changing, so I'm thinking is there actually a market out there that'd give us the budget to do this properly and allow us to shoot this as a 6, 7 or 8 part series where we have freedom, we have great production values and are able to tackle it as the epic saga that it deserves. I just can't see doing one expensive movie and if that's successful you get to do another one, but if the second one isn't quite as good maybe there'll never be a third one... I just don't see that fitting with the property at all.

Quint: Yeah. While I wouldn't say every book ends on a cliffhanger the war is still ongoing now a good 5 books into the series. The main story thread is still unresolved. You don't want a set up that doesn't pay off... like The Golden Compass.

Peter Jackson: Yeah. So my thinking is... and I'm talking to you here having absolutely no plans in place, no deal in place... and I wouldn't. What I would do is I'd start developing the treatment, I'd start to break the storylines down to see if we can structure it in that way. I've already started to do designs. I've had Weta Workshop do a lot of work on designing the characters... the dragons... I've been working with Gus Hunter on the designs. We're well underway creating the visual look. In 2010 one of the things I'll be doing is looking at starting the scripting process and structuring and using it to see if we can't set the project up in that way because I think that'd be the best to serve the story.

There's your Temeraire update. What do you folks think? Personally, I agree that the series would work very well as an ongoing series, but it has to be at a certain level... You don't want to see typical shitty TV-quality CGI dragons flying around or horrible digital matte paintings. The story is a historical war drama/fantasy... a two-part front of costliness. Either one would be hard to pull off with a typical TV budget. It's a tall order, but we'll see how the project evolves. My full chat with Peter Jackson will be delivered as soon as I get the full transcription fit for print. Keep an eye peeled. -Quint Follow Me On Twitter

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