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$76m for another Peter Jackson epic...

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First there was King Kong and now another childhood dream is about to come true for film-maker Peter Jackson – a $76 million new version of the classic film The Dam Busters.

Jackson reveals today that he will produce the film, to be known as Dambusters, based on one of World War II's most daring feats when Royal Air Force bombers destroyed German dams using bouncing bombs.

Most of the US$50 million film will be shot in Wellington, where about 10 full-scale replicas of the Lancaster bombers used in the 1943 raid will be built by visual effects company Weta Workshop. Some filming is also likely in Britain.

"I always thought that out of all the World War II true stories this is one of the most extraordinary," Jackson, a longtime aviation and war buff, told The Dominion Post.

"My parents were English and they were both involved in the war. When it comes to World War II, I'm very based in this English mindset.

"Mum and Dad talked about it all the time. I almost feel like I lived through World War II."

The film will be based on the book The Dam Busters, the 1954 British film of the same name – and new information about the top-secret mission, which included two New Zealanders and an American as well as British and Canadian crews.

Jackson, 44, first saw the 1954 film, which focused on inventor Barnes Wallis and mission commander Guy Gibson, at a Wellington cinema when he was 12. He had been fascinated by the mission, but 10 years ago when he first considered remaking the film he was told Hollywood star Mel Gibson had bought the film rights, held by British broadcaster Sir David Frost, and hoped to star and direct.

"I'd been chasing it for a long, long time but I forgot about it for a while at that point," Jackson said. "Then about two years ago my agent got back to me to say Mel Gibson had dropped out and they were looking around for suitable film-makers to take it on. That's when I jumped on board."

In May Britain's Mail on Sunday reported plans for the film, which Jackson at the time dismissed. He said yesterday he was then still negotiating the rights to make the film, which got the green light only last week.

It will be backed by Hollywood's Universal Pictures and Europe's biggest film company, StudioCanal. Jackson's agent Ken Kamins and Sir David will be executive producers.

"Peter Jackson is the ideal producer, not only because of his film-making genius, but also because of his aeronautical expertise and unique understanding of the human pressures wrought by war," Sir David said.

Computer-generated visual effects and models will depict much of the mission. Jackson had not ruled out using working Lancasters, but the 10 replicas would not fly.

"You do have to have them on the airfield and actors walking around them. We're not going to resort to CG (computer-generated effects) for every single shot in this movie."

It was likely a British screenwriter would be hired. The cast could include A-list stars, but director Christian Rivers said they were most likely to cast actors in their 20s for the main roles. Wing Commander Gibson was only 24 and some pilots were as young as 20.

"One of the things that's really important for us, which isn't in the original film, is to capture how young these pilots really were," Rivers said.

Jackson did not expect problems fitting the film in with others being made at his Wellington studios, including sci-fi epic Halo and The Lovely Bones, which he will direct.

Jackson said Halo was likely to start shooting early next year – and it was possible Halo and Dambusters could be shot about the same time. The Lovely Bones, for which he expected a draft script to be completed next week, would be filmed later.

source:the dominion post

images:www.britishpictures.com/Reuters:DREAMER...Another of Peter Jackson's dreams is coming true; he will produce a $76m remake of the movie The Dam Busters, most of which to be shot in Wellington, N.Z...






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i`ve got the original "dam busters" in my xvid movie collection..great old movie..lots of good technical stuff... :) :thumbsup:

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better than King Kong, mehopes.

And LOTR--I am still annoyed over the pointless plot changes he introduced to that.

This new movie sounds really good, and will probably annoy me, not at all :lol:

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DamBuster`s Legend born on wave of death.......

Wellington film giant Peter Jackson may attempt to stay true to history with his remake of 1955 war film The Dam Busters, but at least one detail is likely to be changed.

In the original, Wing Commander Guy Gibson's dog was called Nigger and that outdated racial slur became one of the code words used during the infamous dam raids. The little black dog in Jackson's remake probably will be named something a little less offensive to modern audiences.

The Dambusters were a legendary squadron of largely hand-picked airmen, including two Kiwis, who flew a dangerous mission to explode dams in western Germany while the Nazi war machine flexed its might.

Early in 1943 they trained for seven weeks, flying at tree-top level, unaware of what they were training for.

Among them was New Zealander Squadron Leader Les Munro, the only surviving pilot of the 19 who flew modified Lancaster bombers from England on the raid. Mr Munro is a former King Country farmer and Waitomo District Council mayor.

The other New Zealander was West Coaster Len Chambers, a wireless operator who died in 1985. Mr Chambers was once described by an RAF commander as one of four men who formed the backbone of 617 Squadron, known since as the Dambusters. He had joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force in 1940.

Operation Chastise involved 133 crewmen, including 19 pilots, who smashed the Moehne and Eder dams on the night of May 16, 1943. They used 4195-kilogram bouncing bombs designed by boffin genius Barnes Wallis.

The bombs, more like mines, skimmed the surface of the dam lakes before sinking at the walls and exploding.

In the 1955 film that immortalised the mission, Wallis' character is shown perfecting the science of the bouncing bombs by skimming stones flung from a slingshot. Later, he visualises the carnage of his creation.

"Just think of the chaos if we could bring these walls down."

The first plane left English soil at 9.18pm, flying by moonlight. The pilots were told they had to dump their cargo – even if their craft were damaged and they had to abort the mission. They flew so low that one plane crashed and exploded when it became tangled in high-tension wires.

Mr Munro, who joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force in 1941, was the first pilot of the second wave of flights to take off.

He was hit when flying over Holland, suffering damage to the plane's communications technology, and had to abort his mission. He returned to base with his live mine on board, against orders.

The wrecked dams flooded the Ruhr Valley, the industrial heart of wartime Germany, and severely affected water and electricity supplies for many cities and industries. The Moehne alone held 130 million tonnes of water and was the largest of 12 dams in the area. The bombers tore a hole 76 metres wide and up to 23 metres deep in the dam wall.

Gibson, who was awarded the Victoria Cross, wrote an account of the raid before being killed in action. He wrote of the planes of some of his pilots exploding as they lost control or fell victim to enemy fire in the final approach.

He also told of the valleys filling with a wave of water "swiping off power stations and roads as it went".

"We saw it extinguish all the lights in the neighbourhood, as though a great black shadow had been drawn across the earth."

The flooding killed 1200 people. Of the 19 bombers that left England with the giant weapons fitted beneath them, only 11 returned.

Of the 56 crew on board the missing eight craft, only three survived to become prisoners of war.

The technology was brilliant but the human cost was devastating and Wallis would later weep over the immense loss. He was awarded E10,000 by the Royal Commission on Awards to Inventors, but put the money into a fund to educate children of men who died in the Royal Air Force.

According to New Zealanders With the Royal Air Force, a book by Wing Commander H L Thompson, Wallis quoted the Bible when gifting his award: "Is not this the blood of the men who went in jeopardy of their lives?"

Who were the Dambusters?

617 Squadron, Royal Air Force. Formed during World War II to carry out a single top-secret and dangerous job for which they became known as the Dambusters, the squadron remained together after the mission and went on to more perilous tasks, winning admiration and many wartime decorations. The squadron is said to have become the most effective unit of its size the British forces have had. The largely hand-picked group, drawn from across the ranks of the RAF, included two New Zealanders. The 133 servicemen trained for seven weeks for the dangerous low-level flights without full knowledge of their mission. The last survivor of the 19 pilots who flew the mission is Kiwi Les Munro, a former Waitomo mayor.

What was their mission?

Operation Chastise involved the annihilation of the Moehne and Eder dams in western Germany using special bouncing bomb technology. The bombs skipped over water, gathering momentum as they travelled, to embed themselves in the dam walls. The masonry crumbled, destroying the dam and flooding the Nazi steel industry factories in the settlements below the dam. This effectively halted manufacture of Nazi weaponry and war supplies in the factories.

What was so unique about this mission?

The pilots had to drop the bombs from exactly 60 feet - roughly tree-top level - while positioned 150ft from the dam wall, travelling at 240 miles an hour. They flew specially modified Lancaster bombers and trained to meet the mission specifications set by scientist Barnes Wallis.

If they got any of that wrong, the bombs would not bounce and activate as desired. The mission had to be flown in moonlight, and the time of year selected was the middle of May, so the dams would be full enough to wreak sufficient havoc in the valleys below.

How did the public hear about the mission?

The secrecy around the mission remained in place for many years, but the 1951 book The Dam Busters by Paul Brickell brought much of the information to the public. The original 1955 movie, The Dam Busters, followed. However, Peter Jackson says the new film will reflect fresh information brought to light by British Government files declassified in recent years. Mr Munro?s character featured prominently in the 1955 film, though his aircraft was hit en route to Germany and he had to abort the mission without dropping his bomb.

source:KERI WELHAM/Dominion Post

images:www.raf.mod.uk:THE DAM BUSTERS



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Dambuster has faith in Jackson......

The last living Dambuster pilot is confident film-maker Peter Jackson will do a good job telling the story of the World War II mission.

Squadron Leader Les Munro, DFC, DSO, is retired in Tauranga after a lifetime in farming and local body politics. He is the only surviving pilot of the 19 who flew modified Lancaster bombers to blow up dams in western Germany in 1943. The only other New Zealander on the mission was wireless operator Len Chambers, who died in 1985.

Mr Munro, 87, met Jackson in May to discuss a new version of the 1954 classic The Dam Busters, which Jackson will produce.

"I'm quite happy that he will do a good job. He will make a good film. What he and Richard Taylor did with Lord of the Rings, then I think nothing is beyond them."

He was not sure what, if any, role he would play in the film. "I jokingly remarked to him he might want to use my services as a pilot."

Mr Munro was flown from Nelson to Wellington for the premiere of the 1955 film. "It was quite good. There were one or two technical things – the shape of the bomb was still under security wrap."

He outlined those technicalities in an interview with The Dominion at the time. "I explained all about the bomb and got a letter from the air force telling me I was a naughty boy."

He hoped the new film would show some of the humour of the men in 617 Squadron.

"I'd like to see some of the antics we used to get up to in training.

"We used to dogfight each other in Lancs during training at low level. I remember flying down canals 100 feet wide at low level, which was unauthorised."

Flying unauthorised at low level was a court martial offence.

Mr Munro said there would be no room for "love interest" in the movie. "There was never a love interest during the operations, only afterwards."

The Dambusters mission involved 133 people, including the 19 pilots, who smashed the Moehne and Eder dams on May 16, 1943. The resulting floods killed 1200 people and destroyed numerous factories.

Mr Munro had flown 21 missions and was 24 when he volunteered for 617 Squadron.

He would do the mission again in the same circumstances. "Some have said it was a failure because of the loss of life and the short time that Germany was able to rebuild the dams. But it had a huge effect in lifting the morale of the British people in a time when there were heavy losses elsewhere."

source:the dominion post

image:dominion post:MEMORY LANE....Dambuster pilot Les Munro, with a photo of a `Lanc', hopes Peter Jackson's new film will encapsulate some of the antics he and his squadron mates got up to.


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  • 3 weeks later...

Bombs away for Jackson's new project......

Filming for Peter Jackson's Dambusters will start within weeks, with a full-scale replica bomber, bouncing bomb and miniature dam already complete, the director has revealed.

Jackson is working on a remake of classic film The Dam Busters, based on one of World War II's most daring feats, in which Royal Air Force bombers destroyed German dams using bouncing bombs.

Most of the $76 million film will be shot in Wellington and Jackson said that for the past few months workers at Weta Workshops in Miramar had been building a full-sized replica of a Lancaster bomber used in the raids.

"We've got the Lancaster made now, we've got a bomb made, we've got the first of the miniature dams made and we're just working on the second dam," he told website Ain't It Cool News.

The plane would be used to make moulds to produce about 10 more Lancaster replicas for the film.

Weta staff had been working on the project for months, though Jackson secured the rights only a few weeks ago, because the workshops had to be ready to focus on Halo, a movie based on a popular sci-fi action video game, for which he will be the executive producer.

"It all worked out well and we're probably going to actually start shooting some of the miniatures for Dambusters in the next few weeks."

This meant that some shooting of scenes would start even though there was still no script or cast.

"It's an interesting way of making a film."

The latest computer-generated imagery would also be put to use, to give audiences a full-blooded view of the mission, in which the bombers skimmed above treetops to stay below German radar before striking the dams.

"We have not really seen a World War II low-level bombing attack that has been done with all the power of (computer graphics) that really make you feel like you're really participating in that raid."

The film was unlikely to feature a host of big-name actors because several of the key pilots were only 20 years old when they led the attacks, Jackson said.



"There are not many stars who are 20 years old. They just don't really exist, so I would imagine we'll be looking for unknown young actors."

Jackson also said he had read reports that Hollywood studio MGM wanted him to make a film of The Hobbit – but said he had not been contacted.

"I'm up for it, but somebody should phone me because I'm getting a bit booked out at the moment."

Jackson is executive producer for Halo, which will be shot in Wellington next year, and director for The Lovely Bones, which does not have a filming date set.

If he was asked to make The Hobbit, he wanted to bring back some of the stars who played characters in Lord of the Rings.

"I have zero interest in directing a Gandalf who wasn't Ian McKellen, for instance."

source:the dominion post

image:www.avsim.com:DAM BUSTERS...."The latest computer-generated imagery would be put to use"...says director PETER JACKSON.


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Replica plane built for Jackson's Dambusters......

Peter Jackson has already had replicas built of the bomber and bomb used in the Dambuster World War 2 mission, for his upcoming movie of the same name.

Jackson told the movie website Ain't it Cool that he and his team travelled to England in May where they measured the original bombs and Wellington's Weta Workshop had just finished making a replica.

Richard Taylor had the first of 10 full-sized Lancaster bombers and had stored it at Weta Workshop.

"We're about to start building the mechanism to spin the bomb under the plane now," Jackson said.

The movie is based on a heroic and daring mission in World War 2 when Royal Air Force bombers destroyed German dams using bouncing bombs.

Jackson said the difficult part was to find accurate specifications, because the original designers modified the planes to be able to carry the bombs under their bellies before their release.

"There are two or three photos that exist of the original, but the British never really kept accurate records of it because it was so secret."

It was ironic, Jackson said, that the best information they had about the bomb was from the Germans who had one after it did not explode when a plane was shot down.

"The Germans dismantled it, they drew it, they measured it, they did blueprints of it, which are accessible today."

Now Weta was working on the miniature dams and it was hoped to start shooting some of the miniatures in the next few weeks.

"This is shooting bits of the movie before we've even written a script for it or even thought about a cast for it. It's an interesting way of making a film."

Jackson said he still had not decided what to call Dambusters Squadron Leader Guy Gibson's dog - originally called Nigger.

"It's a situation where you're damned if you do, and damned if you don't.

"If we go one way people are going to say we sold out to political correctness. If you go the other way you're obviously going to be inadvertently offending people. So it's a no-win scenario."

Jackson said the decision was complicated because it was not just the name of the dog - Nigger was also used as the code word for when they breached the dam.

There were no thoughts yet of who to cast in the main roles, but Jackson said he wanted them to be the right age.

"A couple of the key pilots that night were 20 years old."

He said Guy Gibson was 25 years old during the campaign and commanding 20-year-old pilots.

"I find that remarkable, I just think back to what I was like when I was 20 and I couldn't imagine myself doing what they were doing."


image:http://www.easybuiltmodels.com:FIRST of replica lancaster bombers built for "DAM BUSTERS"


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