Lord of the Rings Director Peter Jackson Achieves Billionaire Status

Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson is officially a billionaire. Forbes released its 46th annual Billionaire List last week and for the first time, Jackson's name made it onto the list (via Variety Australia). Jackson is said to be worth $1.5 billion, which includes the $975 million the filmmaker made due to the sale of his stake in Weta Digital last fall to Unity Software. Jackson and his partner, Fran Walsh, owned a 60 percent stake in Weta. Jackson is listed as the 1929th wealthiest person in the world.

While Jackson has had an extensive film career, he rose to global prominence with his Lord of the Rings trilogy and its follow up, the Hobbit trilogy, both of which were big box office performers. Jackson also won the Academy Award for Best Director for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. More recently, Jackson released the docuseries The Beatles: Get Back on Disney+. The three-episode series follows the making of the iconic band's final album, Let it Be, and was released on the streaming platform last fall. Interestingly, The Beatles actually had their own tie to Lord of the Rings.

Jackson previously told the BBC that The Beatles had wanted to make their own film adaptation of the Lord of the Rings trilogy but were denied rights by author J.R.R. Tolkien. Jackson said that he was putting together all the bits of information he could about the project and that the band had been sent copies of the trilogy by their producer Denis O'Dell when they visited India.

"I expect because there are three, he sent one book to each of the Beatles," Jackson said. "I don't think Ringo got one, but John, Paul, and George each got one Lord of the Rings book to read in India. And they got excited about it."

Jackson went on to explain that the musicians' excitement led them to want to turn the story into a movie and had even decided on casting – Paul McCartney would have been Frodo, John Lennon would have been Gollum, George Harrison would have been Gandalf, and Ringo Starr would have been Sam with the band wanting 2001: A Space Odyssey director Stanley Kubrick to helm the project – but they were shot down by Tolkien.

"Ultimately, they couldn't get the rights from Tolkien, because he didn't like the idea of a pop group doing his story," Jackson said. "So, it got nixed by him. They tried to do it. There's no doubt about it. For a moment in time, they were seriously contemplating doing that at the beginning of 1968."