The Lord of the Rings saved the West Memphis Three. It sounds like a crazy statement but one of the many things a viewer takes from Amy Berg‘s breathtakingly detailed and effective documentary West of Memphis is that co-producers Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh spent a lot of time, and even more money, to assist in the legal defense, new investigations and expert testimony which eventually lead to the 2011 release of the West Memphis Three, three men accused of murdering three boys in West Memphis, Arkansas in 1993. Jackson and Walsh got a lot of their money from The Lord of the Rings so, put two and two together, and the statement seems less crazy.

Jumping off where Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky took off with their Paradise Lost documentary trilogy, Berg’s film makes Purgatory, the latest of Berlinger and Sinofsky’s movies, feel elementary. It expands greatly on all of the revelations on that film, and provides new ones of its own that were filmed as recently as January 12, 2012. Whereas the first Paradise Lost was the definitive documentary on the beginning of this massive, controversial case, West of Memphis is the definitive documentary on its conclusion. Read More »

When we started to hear about West of Memphis, the new documentary about the West Memphis Three (Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley) produced by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, and directed by Amy Berg, the big question was: what will this movie offer?

The movie was born out of an investigation funded by Jackson and Walsh that seeks to find the real identity of the killer who ended the lives of three young boys in 1993. And it turns out the film might have an ace up its sleeve. While the first press screening is going on right now in Sundance, a press release has been sent out announcing that the movie reveals testimony from three witnesses who bolster accusations that the murders were really committed by a man named Terry Hobbs.

Hobbs was the stepfather of one of the murder victims, and has long been linked to the case via DNA evidence. His ex-wife Pamela Hobbs, the birth mother of one of the victims, has called for the case to be re-opened, and has proclaimed her belief that the West Memphis Three are innocent.

The info is after the break. Read More »

Yesterday we showed you the poster for West of Memphis, the West Memphis Three documentary produced by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh and directed by Amy Berg. At the time I wondered what new ground this doc would find when the story has been so thoroughly covered by Joel Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky’s Paradise Lost films.

Now there is a lively trailer for West of Memphis, which will premiere at Sundance. The trailer shows a bit of the specific approach the film takes to telling the story of the West Memphis Three and the murder trial that swirled around them. The movie is part of an effort to exonerate the trio and find the real killer of three young boys who were murdered in 1993. Read More »

When the West Memphis Three (Jason Baldwin, Jesse Misskelley Jr., and Damien Echols) were freed last year, we learned that Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh had been paying for investigations into the case for which the three were convicted. The murders for which the WM3 went to prison are widely believed to have been committed by other parties, and Jackson and Walsh bankrolled DNA tests and other efforts to find the real perpetrators.

Around the same time, in 2008, they started producing a documentary called West of Memphis, directed by Amy Berg, about their investigation and its findings. That film was announced in December, and will premiere soon at Sundance. Jackson has now shared the first poster for the film, designed by the artist Jock. Read More »

The West Memphis ThreeJason Baldwin, Jessie Misskelley Jr., and Damien Echols — may be free, but their story isn’t over. Driven to enter guilty pleas and accept ‘time served’ sentences in order to return to the free world, the men are saddled with felony records for crimes that very few believe were ever proved to be their responsibility. Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, who brought the Three to global attention with the documentary Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills, are prepping their third movie about the WM3, which will premiere soon at TIFF before hitting the New York Film Festival and finally playing on HBO.

HBO now thinks there could be a fourth film to be made about the case, based on the manner in which the WM3 had to plead guilty in order to become free. And, in a related note, Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh continue to support the WM3 by further bankrolling an investigation into the people truly responsible for the murders of three 8-year old boys in 1993. Read More »

Cool Posts From Around the Web:

So, you thought that after SAG and AFTRA called off the labor union boycott of The Hobbit that things would be all smooth sailing for the production? Nope. Despite an end to the union dispute that started with a pairing of a small New Zealand actors’ organization and an Australian outfit and grew to encompass some of the largest motion picture unions, The Hobbit may still leave New Zealand.

Where would the production go? Eastern Europe has been one possible destination, as mentioned by Peter Jackson. But his wife, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings co-writer and co-producer Fran Walsh, says Warner Bros. is keen on using the Leavesden Studios where Harry Potter was shot. Read More »

This is a surprising turn of events for The Hobbit. When a small coalition of actors’ unions in New Zealand and Australia pushed actors’ guilds across the world to boycott work on the films, citing an unfair residuals arrangement, Peter Jackson responded by threatening to move the production to Eastern Europe.

But that would never happen, right? The organizations wouldn’t push away a huge chunk of work like the two Hobbit films by holding firm to a set of demands for which the production and backers at Warner Bros. have sought appropriate solutions — that would be crazy.

And yet Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh are now saying that Warner Bros. will move the films out of New Zealand to a yet to be disclosed new shooting location. So is this a done deal, or just an escalated threat by the studio? Read More »

del_toro_jackson_hobbit_1

Someone probably saw this coming, after his frustrated-sounding comments the other day (with respect to MGM’s troubles slowing down the films) but it is still a shock to see that Guillermo del Toro is no longer directing The Hobbit for producer Peter Jackson.

del Toro announced his departure via long-running LotR fansite The One Ring, and you can read his comments after the break. Read More »

jackson_and_walsh

Update: Entertainment Weekly have spoken to Ken Kamins, Jackson’s manager and received some kind of weak denial. He said: “It sounds like an April Fool’s joke. Peter and Fran are working diligently on The Hobbit for the foreseeable future.” Which is basically equivalent to answering the question “Will you join me for dinner tonight?” by saying “That sounds like you’re hitting me. I’ll be diligently washing my hair for the foreseeable future”.  I think Fry may have gotten the wrong end of the stick here, somehow… but that it’s still just about possible there is a stick to get the wrong end of.

Here’s a story I wasn’t expecting to hear today. Even more, I wasn’t expecting to hear it from Stephen Fry.

A popular British radio show with film buffs (and some UK readers of this site, I’ve noticed from the comments) is Simon Mayo’s afternoon slot on BBC Five Live. On a Friday, he features movie reviews and often guests, and today one such guest was none other than the aforementioned Fry. When the conversation came around to the Peter Jackson/Christian Rivers Dambusters remake for which Fry has written the screenplay, he couldn’t reveal much news at all – it sounds like the picture is just in some kind of holding pattern – but he did have some brilliant incidental information about Jackson.

Read More »

Writing Team Announced For The Hobbit

deltorohobbit1.jpg

Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro have announced that writing has begun on The Hobbit and the announced Hobbit sequel. Jackson partner Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens have also been revealed as part of the writing team. Both Walsh and Boyens were part of the creative team behind the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Originally Jackson and del Toro were to oversee a writing team in penning both films. Jackson and del Toro made time in their schedules to become more involved in the process. This is great news because Jackson, Walsh and Boyens have an intimate knowledge of the Tolkien’s Middle Earth that would probably take months upon months of hardcore research for a new creative team. del Toro described the process as “something beautiful” while phoning in for a recent Hellboy II question and answer session.

The current plan is to begin shooting both films simultaneously in late-2009, with hopes of releasing The Hobbit in 2011, followed up the next year with the sequel. It does seem like they are rushing this a bit, but with a good creative team on board to pen the adaptations, I have a good feeling it will work out in the end. I’m still a bit hesitant about what exactly The Hobbit sequel will contain, and if it will be possible to create a narrative of the years in-between.

sources: OneRing, THR