Lord of the Oscars? - Peter Jackson might want to clear off his mantel...

Peter Jackson might want to clear off his mantel. The director of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, which has already grossed more than $1.8 billion worldwide, is finishing part three, "The Return of the King," and even without seeing a frame, Hollywood insiders consider it the front runner for a best-picture statuette--and Jackson for best director--come Oscar time. No surprise: the first two films were both nominated. What's remarkable is that in an industry known for vicious battles for Academy Awards, many people who plan to compete against Jackson's film secretly want him to win. "I'm such a fan of his," says a studio head with a film sure to be up against "LOTR." "I've been waiting for the Academy to reward him for his nine-hour movie."
        Or it may be even longer. There's rampant speculation about the length of the film--still two months from completion--with reports circulating that "King" will clock in at more than three hours. If it does, that's not likely to matter much to fans, critics or even the studio. The first two installments squeaked in just under the 180-minute mark, and it's hard to imagine they could have made any more money. (The highest-grossing film so far, "Titanic," ran a butt-numbing 3 hours 14 minutes.) And while New Line head Robert Shaye shares final cut with Jackson, he has yet to meddle with the director's creative decisions. "We do not talk about length," says studio COO Mark Ordesky. "We talk about the film." So, apparently, does everybody else in Hollywood. They always did like a happy ending.
        --Sean Smith, Newsweek Magazine: Newsmakers

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