Peter Jackson and Howard Shore Split

Just 2 months before the release of King Kong, Peter Jackson and composer Howard Shore and parted ways. Just recently news of another director/composer duo split when Sam Raimi and Danny Elfman went the separate ways… both vowing never to work with each other again.

Although this split is FAR more civil (they still call themselves friends), it could be a more costly one. Howard Shore composed the music for The Lord of the Rings films… one of the most deeply moving soundtracks I think i’ve every heard. The music of Rings is forever associated with it in my head. It was more than magical… it was…heart stirring.

Saddly, the magic that came with Jackson and Shore working together will not appear for King Kong. The two have reached an impasse in “creative differences” on how the score should sound and has resulted in Shore leaving the project… with just 2 months to go until it’s release date.

I’m sure it will all be “fine”… but sadly… we’ll never know how much better than “fine” it might have been.

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20 thoughts on “Peter Jackson and Howard Shore Split

  1. Peter, (Sorry I know this reponse is about two months late) the it was the movie that inspired his career, Ray Harryhausen did not make the original King Kong. He was only 13 when the movie came out in 1933. The effects in King Kong were by Willis O’Brien who RH would later work with on Mighty Joe Young.(1949)

  2. This is weird…I really thought Howard Shore was the composer, instead it’s composed by James Newton Howard. Still a great score, but I was really looking forward to hearing Shore’s work for this movie…

    And what sucks too is that Shore appears in King Kong. In the scene in the New York theatre, he is the conductor of the band that supplements the show that reveals the giant ape. WTF was Peter Jackson thinking?

  3. I couldn’t agree more with how incredible the score of the LOTR movies was. Without the music the movies are not half of what they ended up being, which in my opinion are some of the finest films ever made.

    My wife (girlfriend at the time) and I went to see Howard conduct the LA philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl and they performed all of the score from Fellowship of the Ring and it was absolutely breathtaking. Fantastic concert!

  4. Old pals indeed. ;-)

    I am only excited to watch this film because of the hype, take it out then I might not even bother. Oh and I forgot, Jack Black is there too. I will always go and see a movie with him in it. *winks*

  5. It is good to meet old pals again ;)

    Peter Jackson´s ego is really irritating indeed. Anyway, I don´t give his King Kong a shit. I don´t mind about that movie. For me, there is only one Kong, and that´s Harryhausen´s.

  6. Is that you again Peter? Nice to see you posting more around here. *winks*

    Mr. Jackson is prolly thinking that he can multi-task, remember he did it before in LotR, and now he prolly also wants to do the score.

  7. In these splits between musicians and directors, it is always the director to blame. Always.

    I remember how bitter was Jerry Goldsmith about Ridley Scott about the Alien score. And I remember the circumstances in which Hitchcock and Herrmann separated their ways.

    A film director doesn´t know SO much about music. The directors should respect the music points of view most of times, instead of putting their noses too much, which happens usually.

  8. Let us not forget, Tim Burton and Danny Elfman went through a similar situation 10 years ago, and they’re back and working together as well as ever. Sometimes, when two people work too closely together for too long “creative differences” do occur, but if the relationship is strong enough they usually end up putting aside these differences and making beautiful music together (if you’ll pardon the pun).

    I’m not too worried about King Kong. After all, King Kong is a new movie with no pre-established themes or style. Jackson can switch composers now and no one will know the difference. What worries me is the Sam Raimi/Danny Elfman split. Elfman’s score was one of the things that made the Spider-man movies. His unique style, and creative way of creating Spider-man’s theme (the “scurrying” strings in the beginning), matched Raimi’s vision perfectly. We all associate Elfman with Spider-man after two hugely successful movies. To see a Spider-man movie without his score may not set well with filmgoing fans. We all kinow what happens when a second composer tries to score a movie based on pre-existing themes. See Superman II or Jurassic Park III for examples.

    Let’s just hope that these splits are only temporary; or at the very least, that they lead to relationships that are just as creative and fruitful.

  9. What T-Jax said.

    I agree John, I wish they could have reached a common ground, but they couldn’t. So they did the next best thing instead of pushing out inferior material.

  10. Doo-doo-dah-dah-dooooooo! Dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-doo-doo-dah-dah-doo.

    That’s the LOTR music for those that can read my humming. And that’s the theme of Howard Shore saying “Peace out, Pete!”

    “Peace out, Petey Boy! Ki-ing Kong ca-an kiss my-y bubs, so Peace out, Pete-ee-ey boooooooy.”

    Thank you.

  11. About their creative differences, from Reuters:

    Jeff Bond, editor at large of Film Score Monthly, said the difference could stem from Shore’s artistic ambitions running against the demands of a big studio movie.

    “Howard Shore is a guy who — particularly on ‘Lord of the Rings’ and a lot of his scores for David Cronenberg — has very specific artistic ideas that he likes to express in a score,” Bond said. “That can be problematic if the composer is potentially running up against the thoughts of a director. Part of the problem is that the bigger the project, the less the score has an opportunity to be creative.”

  12. Lou_Sytsma: I’m not saying a rejected soundtrack always equates a bad movie. I’m just saying that OFTEN this is an indication that the movie is in some trouble. This may not be the case with King Kong, but it certainly isn’t impossible.

    As for Shore not writing a 1930’s sounding score – that’s exactly what he did! Shore reportedly composed an old fashioned score, with some references to Max Steiner’s classic King Kong score.

    Sure, it’s possible that Jackson suddenly changed his mind about what kind of score he wanted, but I think that’s rather unlikely. Still, I suppose Shore is talented, and professional enough, to handle a situation like that. Maybe Jackson wanted to rescore parts of the film, but Shore not being available to do it? I don’t know. I’m just speculating…

  13. Hey there Lou

    I don’t think anyone is equating this news with the film being in trouble. I just think it’s a shame that these two weren’t able to come to a consensus. Their colaboration has yeilded amazing results before. i don’t think it’s either Jackon’s or Shore’s fault. I just wish one of them had budged.

    Shore knows Scores better than Jackson… Jackson knows the feel of his film better than Shore. They’re both professionals… so I just wish they could have wored it out.

    And yes… Jackson has made tough decisions… but so does every at least half decent director. That’s what they do.


  14. I love how everyone equates a soundtrack replacement with the movie being in trouble. Jackson is deeply in love with the Kong material and has definite ideas as to how he wants the finished product to look and sound like. If he and Shore could not reach consensus on the musical landscape of the picture it is a sad event for both but does not spell doom for the movie.

    Jackson, if one works through all the LOTR documentaries, has a very organic approach to movie-making. He fired the original Aragorn – Stuart Townshend, changed the look of Gollum, filmed pickup shots to augment or replace previously completed work, and came up with new SFX shots until the last possible moment.

    Besides replacing Shore, Jackson has had the look of Kong redone. The new one is an older, more mature one. Perhaps this tonal shift is the reason that Jackson and Shore no longer have the same thoughts on the scoring.

    Jackson has made tough calls in the past, has made another one with Kong, and will do so in the future.

  15. Personally, this seems like it could be a big problem for the film. I tend to really like Howard Shore’s style as a composer, and I could certainly see it fitting with a movie like this. However, I can also see that Peter Jackson is trying to give this a more 1930s feel through the color grading and composition of shots, and perhaps, during the editing process he realized he wants a score that really sounds like that, or perhaps has hints of themes from the original King Kong film. Something that goes along with that idea of dating the film a bit.

    A lot of composers, this late in the game, probably wouldnt go back and re-write the score they had been working so hard on, so he probably just quit at that point. Also there is the off chance that Shore just wasnt hitting the right stride with his score for this film , and that the whole situation just wasnt working out. I do hope there is a Jackson/Shore collaboration on The Lovely Bones, and on The Hobbit (if and when he ever gets to it) I think they make a fantastic team.

  16. Other great Director / Composer partnerships…

    Alfred Hitchcock / Berrnard Herrmann

    David Lean / Maurice Jarre

    Sergio Leoni / Ennio Morricone

    John Carpenter / John Carpenter

  17. There’s something fishy going on here. Why did they discover that they had “creative differences” NOW, two months before the release date? Shore has been working on this score for months, and has already recorded a fair share of it down in NZ, so it’s hard to imagine that their “creative differences” should surface this late in the scoring process. And I’m sure that Shore would have been willing to make changes to his music, had there really been a clash of different opinions regarding what kind of score he should compose for the film. Once again, Shore has been working on this score for months so it’s just absurd that Jackson should discover that he doesn’t really like what Shore has been up to all this time, this late in the scoring process.

    I’m sure that there’s another reason – the quality of the film and the studio suits. Like Troy, where Gabriel Yared’s score was tossed out and replaced by a score (written in just two weeks) by James Horner, chances are that the film is in big trouble, and the only thing the producers, or the studio, can do at this stage (apart from panicking, of course), two months before the release, is to change the music. It’s something that occurs a lot. Since it’s not possible to save the movie by doing re-shoots this late in the process, the studio takes the only chance they have at improving the film – rescoring the film. It’s a fact that a rejected score often is a big warning signal about the quality of the film, not the quality of the score.

    I’m sure that James Newton Howard will write a great score for King Kong, but it’s really sad that we’ll never get a chance to hear what Shore wrote, and recorded, for the film.

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