In an extract from his biography of Peter Jackson, Brian Sibley, tells of the director’s early struggles to make The Lord of the Rings. In 1994, the director Peter Jackson and his writing partner Fran Walsh, fresh from the success of Heavenly Creatures, were signed to an exclusive three-year “first look” deal by the Miramax founders Bob and Harvey Weinstein. “First look” deals allow a studio to pay overheads for writers and directors to come up with ideas. The studio then gets the option to turn those ideas into films. With the deal signed, Jackson and Walsh set to work on the screenplay for their adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings series: by 1997, they had completed a draft script that abbreviated the trilogy into two films.

Having completed their 92-page outline, Peter and Fran flew to New York for creative meetings with Miramax, which took place in a room nicknamed “the sweatbox” after the small airless rooms where, in the early days of film, movies got shown and discussed. In the middle of summer, with no windows and no air-conditioning and the obvious tensions involved in presenting a treatment for an ambitious movie project, the room lived up to its name. [More]