Peter Jackson Backs "Dambusters" Remake

by | September 1, 2006 | Comments

Producer Peter Jackson will take control of "Dambusters," a fact-based WWII story that was the subject of a 1955 Michael Anderson film of the same name. Oscar-winning storyboard artist Christian Rivers will make his directorial debut on "Dambusters."

Universal press release, courtesy of

Production will soon begin on "Dambusters," an inspirational story of heroism and one of the most daring missions in aeronautic military history, it was announced today by Universal Pictures and StudioCanal.

Christian Rivers will direct the film, which is inspired by actual events and based on the book "The Dam Busters" by Paul Brickhill and the 1955 Associated British Picture Corporation motion picture. The WingNut Films production is produced by Jan Blenkin, Carolynne Cunningham and Peter Jackson, with Sir David Frost and Ken Kamins serving as executive producers.

A Universal Pictures presentation in association with StudioCanal, "Dambusters" chronicles the story of Operation Chastise, a top-secret Royal Air Force bombing mission designed to strike a decisive blow against the seemingly invincible Nazi war machine at the height of its aggression.

In March 1943, a group of airmen drawn from across the ranks of the RAF were assembled and trained for an unprecedented and potentially deadly assignment whose complete nature was not revealed to them. This largely hand-picked group, known as 617 Squadron — including pilots from Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the USA — were led by Wing Cmdr. Guy Gibson. They had only seven weeks to train with exercises that imitated, but never revealed, their ultimate intent: to fly deep within well-armed Germany at tree top level and destroy three dams that were essential to the Nazi steel industry. A revolutionary "bouncing" bomb that could skip across water had been developed by a visionary scientist, Barnes Wallis, but to be effective, the bomb had to be dropped from a terrifyingly close range and at very low altitude. In specially-modified Lancaster aircraft, the airmen trained for a single mission, the likes of which had never been undertaken and whose potential for success was small.

"This is one of the most remarkable true stories to come out of World War II," stated Jackson. "When Michael Anderson made his thrilling version of this story in 1955, many details of the dams raid were still a closely guarded secret. It has since been declassified by the British Government, making the dynamics of the story and the people involved even more intriguing. That, combined with our ability to harness state-of-the-art computer generated visual effects, will enable us to bring the events of these desperate days of 1943 to life in a very visceral way. This is an astonishing story that continues to be revered in British Commonwealth history, and our hope is to make their exploits known to more of the world and extend their legacy to a generation that might not otherwise recognize their inspiration and sacrifice."

"Peter Jackson is the ideal producer for a remake of ‘Dambusters,’" said Sir David Frost. "Not only because of his film-making genius, but also because of his aeronautical expertise and his unique understanding of the human pressures wrought by war."

Dambusters marks the feature film directorial debut of Christian Rivers, who has worked with Jackson for over 17 years — first as a storyboard artist while still at school, then as an animator, pre-vis supervisor, second unit director — culminating in his work as animation director on Jackson’s "King Kong," which won him a 2006 Academy Award® for Best Visual Effects (an honor Rivers shared with Joe Letteri, Brian Van’t Hul and Richard Taylor).

"The bravery of these young pilots, some of whom were only 20 years old, inspired the whole Allied world not just to resist, but to strike back against Nazi Germany," said Rivers. "I grew up with the Dambusters mythology as part of my heritage. I remember seeing it for the first time on television in England with my grandfather. I’ll never forget marveling at the image of the bouncing bomb punching across the water. This is one of the most revered stories of British ingenuity and heroism. We intend to be true to the values of the era in which these events took place."

The Oscar®-winning artists at Weta Digital, Ltd. and Weta Workshop, Ltd. will create the visual effects and miniatures necessary to fully realize "Dambusters" for the motion picture screen.

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