Peter Jackson’s career path has been an odd one, to put it mildly. His most recent film is They Shall Not Grow Old, a documentary about World War I that uses the special effects magic of his Weta Digital studio to restore 100-year-old footage with flashy modern color. Before that he made the Hobbit movies, which were tepidly received adaptations for a beloved book. Before that he made the Lord Of The Rings movies, which were beloved adaptations based on several beloved books. There was also a crummy King Kong movie and the frustrating The Lovely Bones somewhere in there, but long before all of that he made delightfully trashy horror films and weirdo comedies like Bad Taste and Meet The Feebles. It has essentially been a journey of increasing seriousness, but Jackson now says he wants to step back and give his old movies a bit more love.
Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Jackson says his next project will be using the tricks that Weta employed for They Shall Not Grow Old to restore his own old movies—specifically his first four films: Bad Taste, Meet The Feebles, Dead Alive, and Heavenly Creatures. He mentioned this a few weeks ago, saying he was working on 4K restorations of his old stuff, but now it seems like he’s actually doing it instead of just saying he wants to do it. Jackson says he has been approached many times over the years with offers to rerelease his early films in modern formats, but he always declined because he wanted to be deeply involved in the process of restoring them. Now he’s hoping to package them all together in some kind of box set, referring to the era as his “naughty years” and teasing that he also has hours of behind-the-scenes footage for each film that he has held onto over the years.
Jackson doesn’t have any kind of distribution deals for this project yet, but he’s just going to move forward with it anyway. He says he assumes it’ll be “online streaming, iTunes and all that sort of stuff,” which is the sort of “we’ll figure it out later” attitude you can have when you’re Peter Jackson. As for doing the actual work, some of the films require more attention than others, with Bad Taste in particular having visible mold in some shots because Jackson kept the 16mm negative under his bed during production. He says that even if this restoration project just involves him getting the mold off of Bad Taste, it’ll be “a very good thing to do.”