Blockbuster fantasy and comic book adaptations are everywhere lately. But at the time that Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy arrived in theaters in 2001, it was a massively ambitious undertaking that hadn't been seen at that scale quite yet. Pitching the epic adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien's beloved novels was no easy task for Peter Jackson, and now it turns out that a failed Nightmare on Elm Street sequel actually helped him get his foot in the door at the studio. New Line Studios founder Bob Shaye recently described this serendipitous experience, saying:
I knew Peter, because he had written one of the sequels to Nightmare on Elm Street, one that we didn't use. It was not a particularly good script. Mark Odesky (New Line executive) came into my office and said, 'Look, Peter is coming in, he'd like to show us the pitch [for Lord of the Rings]. Would you be interested in seeing it?' So, partly as a courtesy, and partly out of curiosity, I said, 'Okay, I will, but it's not happening.' I went in, and I saw the thing, and it was really terrific. He had done a short video piece with Ian McKellen and it was very impressive. There's lots of stories that come after that, but that was the genesis.
And this, ladies and gentleman, is why you never burn bridges. Because while Peter Jackson's Nightmare on Elm Street script wasn't a winner, his relationship with the studio would eventually foster his career-changing work on the Lord of the Rings movies. The trilogy is still one of the top movie events of the 2000's, so I guess we all owe Freddy Kreuger a debt of gratitude.
Bob Shaye's comments on the Post Mortem Podcast show how strangely the film business works. Because while projects fall through and are green lit regularly, the relationships fostered during development can end up being valuable for future projects.
It's almost hard to believe that the Lord of the Rings trilogy would have a difficult time being produced by a major studio. But Jackson's adaptation of the books was a massively expensive experience that filmed all across New Zealand. The three films became pop culture events during their release, and the overall franchise ended up making a whopping $2.9 billion dollars.
Now if only we could get a glimpse at Peter Jackson's failed Nightmare on Elm Street script. Freddy Kreuger is a classic horror villain, and there have been a ton of films made (to varying success). Considering how many sequels have been less than stellar, he must have really screwed the pooch on that script. But his career was definitely bound to improve.