In just a few days time, the release of The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies will see Peter Jackson bring the curtain down on his adventures in Middle-earth - remarkably, just shy of two decades after it all began. Jackson first started exploring the possibilities of adapting J.R.R. Tolkiens fantasy novels in 1995, but he could never have imagined that the journey he embarked upon would occupy such an enormous stretch of his career. In the intervening period, the New Zealand native has only directed two films - King Kong and The Lovely Bones - that dont involve orcs, elves, wizards and Bagginses. Unless Jackson decides to take on The Silmarillion at some point, The Battle Of The Five Armies will be the sixth and final entry in a remarkable body of work. The Lord Of The Rings films - rightly recognised as one of finest trilogies in motion picture history - grossed almost three billion dollars worldwide and won seventeen Oscars, with The Return Of The King triumphing in all eleven categories in 2004 and earning Jackson the coveted Best Director gong. Having achieved such extraordinary success, he could have been forgiven for passing on the opportunity to direct the planned two-film adaptation of The Hobbit when numerous legal wrangles and production problems saw Guillermo del Toro reluctantly depart the project. However, Jackson couldnt bear to see anyone else take the reins, reprising director duties as two films became three. Somewhat inevitably, The Hobbit films have come in for criticism in some quarters. Reviewers and paying customers alike have labelled the trilogy a bloated cash grab, but it would be churlish to deny that Jackson has again delivered some outstanding entertainment. As the curtain comes down on the final instalment, its time to find out more about Jacksons unexpected journey.
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