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|Written by Kevin Johns|
|Wednesday, 03 October 2007 19:00|
The fan based grass roots geek campaign... though it is now securely routed in the e-world of online communications, this ritual dates back to the pre-digital world of the 1960’s and the original Star Trek series. When Trek was threatened with cancellation near the end of its second season, fans across the country launched a legendary letter writing campaign that led to a third season, and eventually a series of big budget feature films.
Not much has changed in the last forty years. When a modern favourite television show is threatened with cancellation, fans still start campaigns similar to the one that saved Star Trek, only they now do it online. When cult favourite Veronica Mars was cancelled at the end of its third season, for example, fans sent the studio thousands of Mars chocolate bars in support of an online campaign to save the show. Similar internet based campaigns have involved emails to studio execs, petitions, charitable donations, and online community events.
While these ritualized campaigns nearly always fail to save the beloved property from oblivion, or to make any significant impact, the recent successes achieved by the Snakes on a Plane online community proved that studio executives do indeed listen to fan communities, even if only in rare circumstances. After the online community’s extremely positive reaction to the announcement that Samuel Jackson’s upcoming film would be titled Snakes on a Plane, the studio responded by providing the movie with additional funds to shoot extra scenes and add the (now legendary) line of dialogue, "I'm sick of these...". In the case of Snakes on a Plane, online support really did make a difference and fans were able to play an integral part in the development of a narrative they had much interest in.
Supporting a losing cause is, itself, a ritual for many advocates of a variety of causes and that fact alone, combined with the slim chance of actually making a real difference, has inspired those of us here working in (Cult)u’re Magazine’s film department to launch our new “Jackson for the Hallows” online campaign.
Having sold more than eleven million copies in its first twenty four hours on sale, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is the fastest selling book of all time. As the final instalment of Rowling’s beloved series, the book was a thrilling read and served as a worthy conclusion to not just the series of novels, but to an entire generation’s childhood.
Peter Jackson, who created cult favourites such as Braindead, Meet the Feebles, and Bad Taste in his native New Zealand before coming to Hollywood, is now best known as the director of the Lord of the Rings films, the most popular fantasy adventure series of the last two decades.
Put Jackson and the Hallows together, and you have the perfect combination. It’s like mixing peanut butter and chocolate.
With the recent release of the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix film, it had become abundantly apparent that the film adaptations of Rowling’s novels are no longer able to live up to the source material. Put simply, Harry Potter fans deserve better films than what we have been getting.
A merely adequate director like Christopher Columbus was forgivable for adaptations of the first two books, and actually produced two surprisingly good films (along with Adventures in Babysitting, the Potter films are the crowning achievements of his entire oeuvre, in fact!). As Rowling’s series progresses, however, the books and their mythology become increasingly complex. The directors chosen to follow Columbus have failed to reflect either the growing complexity of the books, or the growing cultural relevance of the series itself.
Did anyone watch Y Tu Mama Tambien and think, “Alfonso Cuaron would be just perfect for The Prisoner of Azkaban...”?
Was anyone truly excited when Mike Newell was announced as the director of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire?
Do any Potter fans view David Yates’ shockingly pedestrian Order of the Phoenix film as anything but a pale comparison to the complex and nearly epic novel from which it was adapted?
Should it even be a question that the Harry Potter films deserve better directors than Yates and Newell? Hardly!
Where are the Stephen Spielbergs? More importantly, where are the Peter Jacksons? We are talking about the most popular series of books in the world today and the highest gross film series of all time, and yet David Yates is the best director the studio can come up with? This will not do.
Harry Potter fans deserve better. In fact, they deserve the best when it comes to the final installment in the series. Nothing less than Peter Jackson will do. The movie will serve as the final culmination of a cultural phenomenon that will have been growing exponentially for nearly fifteen years by the time the final movie is released. These books mean something to millions of people out there, young and old alike, and the films should reflect that fact. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows should be a cinematic masterpiece and the movie that breaks Jackson’s own Return of the King Oscar record by winning more than eleven academy awards.
An adaptation of The Deathly Hallows will require several specific skills from its director:
A) The director will need to understand how to adapt a complex novel, while retaining the majority of the source material’s significant content (unlike Yates’ Order of the Phoenix hatchet job).
Jackson has, of course, proven that he is more than capable of doing just this.
B) The director will need to understand how to deal with an ensemble cast and multiple story lines (unlike Yates who chose to focus exclusively on Harry at the expense of all other characters).
Again, Jackson has a proven track record for displaying just this skill in both LOTR and King Kong.
C) The director needs to know how to stage a massive battle sequence filled with special effects and magical creatures.
Despite numerous attempts to mimic Jackson’s LOTR battle sequences, no director has yet managed to surpass his work in this field.
D) The director will need to know how to balance the large battles and special effects with intimate, character focused moments.
Again, Jackson has already done just that.
There can be no question. Peter Jackson should be directing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. You know it. I know it.
So let’s make it a reality.
The campaign starts here.
First, add your name to the comments section below. Next, spread the word. These grass roots campaigns depend on word of mouth action, so take this campaign and make it your own! Blog about it! Podcast about it! Put up posters in your home town! Talk to your friends and family! Buy up add space in Variety! Spread the word, and let the world know that the people who truly love Harry Potter want Jackson to direct the final film. Let’s make sure that everyone in Hollywood knows that Harry Potter fans refuse to settle for anything less than the best.
The pinnacle of the Harry Potter series deserves the best director possible, and right now, there is no one better suited for the job than Peter Jackson.
Jackson for the Hallows!!!!
Image Manipulation by Adam Meaney