Peter Jackson has used digital wizardry to conjure J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth and King Kong’s New York, but he has now employed all his technical powers to bring to life the Western Front of the First World War.
Jackson’s “They Shall Not Grow Old” is the 57-year-old filmmaker’s first documentary. It was commissioned by Britain’s Imperial War Museum to coincide with the centenary of the Armistice. Jackson assembled the film by using more than 100 hours of footage from the front and 600 hours of audio interviews conducted in the 1960s with surviving British soldiers.
Jackson restored the heavily damaged, grainy footage, colorized it and transferred the film into 3D. He even employed expert lip readers to re-create the unheard dialogue.
Noting that people today have seen footage from World War I only in grainy black-and-white and silent, if at all, Jackson said in a statement that this project opens up the past like never before. “Restoration is a humanizing process,” he said.
Fathom Events, which distributes movies and live events for movie theaters, is screening “They Will Not Grow Old” on more than 1,000 screens nationwide on Thursday, Dec. 27. An earlier screening night, on Dec. 17, earned $2.3 million at the box office, which Fathom said was a company record for a single-day screening of a documentary.
The movie will screen Thursday, at 1 and 4 p.m., at the following Utah locations. Check listings for each theater, as some screenings are sold out.
• Cinemark 24 Jordan Landing, 7301 S. Jordan Landing Drive, West Jordan.
• Megaplex Jordan Commons, 9335 S. State St., Sandy.
• Cinemark 14 Station Park, 844 W. Clark Lane, Farmington.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.