It’s been 16 years since the release of the last installment in The Lord of the Rings. While Peter Jackson’s epic concluding chapter to J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy didn’t exactly set the world on fire, it did earn the director a shit-ton of money and a reputation for being one of the industry’s best. Since then, Peter Jackson has directed a few more movies and is now probably best known for his Heavenly Creatures, a story about a group of misfit teenagers who band together to prevent their town from being destroyed by a freak snowstorm. On the heels of that flick, Peter Jackson has gone on to direct The Frighteners, which was released earlier this year and saw Michael Myers from the film series return for another round of brutal murder. Despite this recent string of horror sequels, there hasn’t been much indication that Peter Jackson has lost his touch, as he continues to churn out high-quality films that attract huge audiences. But what exactly is Peter Jackson’s relationship with Twilight starlet and occasional on-screen partner, Robert Pattinson? And is there any chance that Jackson could direct a movie that rivals The Lord of the Rings in both quality and popularity? Let’s take a look, shall we?

Director Of The Hobbit And The Lord of the Rings

If you haven’t been paying attention, then it might come as a bit of a surprise that Peter Jackson is now seen as a leading man in Hollywood. After all, it’s been 16 years since his last hit, and even though he’s helmed some gems in the interim (like Braindead and Heavenly Creatures), he’s probably best known as the guy who oversaw the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Yes, Peter Jackson was the director of The Lord of the Rings, and while it is often considered one of the greatest literary adaptations of all time, it wasn’t exactly a box office smash. In fact, the trilogy only earned around $3.9 billion worldwide. That’s less than half of what the first two movies in the series made at the box office, and it put an end to Jackson’s 14-movie run with The Hobbit. But while The Lord of the Rings didn’t do nearly as well as its predecessors, it did establish Jackson as one of Hollywood’s most sought-after directors. That much is evident from the hundreds of job offers he received following its release.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn

Peter Jackson has been dating Twilight starlet and occasional on-screen partner, Rob Pattinson, for almost as long as he’s been directing features. And over the years, their relationship has become so much more than just professional. In fact, it’s almost hard to believe that they aren’t actually biologically related. As far back as 2008, when Jackson was still in his early 30s and Pattinson was just 22, they were already an item. And while they’d previously worked together on The Beach, a surfing drama that saw Jackson direct and star in, it was Breaking Dawn that officially put them on the map. And it didn’t even have to be that dramatic. After years of buildup, Twilight ended with a whimper, not a bang. It was one of the poorer performing installments of The Twilight Saga, earning just $698 million worldwide against a $250 million budget. Still, the fact that Twilight turned out to be such a huge hit means that Jackson and Pattinson are in a good place right now. And it seems like they have many projects in the works. Both of them are attached to several different productions, and that’s a good thing, considering The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings took him almost six years to make. Plus, after years in the trenches, Jackson is now in a position to take on bigger and better projects. He even stated in an interview that he’d like to tackle J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings again, this time as a TV series.

Heavenly Creatures

In case you’re wondering where Peter Jackson gets his money from, it’s not from directing movies. While The Lord of the Rings trilogy was a massive financial success, it didn’t do nearly as well at the box office as Jackson’s prior two movies, Braindead and Deadalive. And as a result, he doesn’t really need to make much money off of directing to fulfill his salary requirements. But that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t care about money, because even though he didn’t need it, Peter Jackson did end up making a large sum of cash off of Heavenly Creatures, which hit theaters in 1994 and starred Mel Gibson and Heather Locklear. The movie was based on the play Stranger By Night, which was originally written in 1893. Despite the dated nature of some of the content, the film remains a beloved part of Jackson’s collection, as evidenced by the three different versions it’s been given over the years. Most recently, it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

More Than Meets The Eye

In the summer of 2019, Peter Jackson will be turning 55 years old. Since his teens, when he first began acting and directing, he’s lived a pretty charmed life. Not only has he been blessed with good looks and a seemingly endless stream of female fans (of which there are undoubtedly many more than him), but he’s also achieved a level of success that most people can only dream of. Even more impressive is the fact that he’s done so while still in his early 30s. This makes him one of the industry’s great survivors, a testament to his talent and tenacity. While many popular films directors retire in their late 30s or early 40s, Jackson has proven that there’s still life in Hollywood yet, which is pretty incredible for a guy who started out in his teens. It also means that he has a lot more time to make more movies. And who knows? Maybe, just maybe, he’ll be able to give J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings a run for its money. As long as he doesn’t become too old or too infirm to handle the intensive nature of the work, there’s no reason why he can’t continue to direct the kinds of movies that he loves making.

But while Jackson’s still got a long way to go before he can match the success of The Lord of the Rings, it’s clear that the director’s recent films don’t fall as much under the category of “middle-aged man movies” as his earlier works did. And that’s a good thing. Because even though Jackson had to evolve as a filmmaker over the years, he always maintained a keen sense of humor and a youthful exuberance that translates quite well to his recent work. And if there’s one thing Peter Jackson’s been doing over the past few years, it’s making movies that he truly believes in. Even more so than his earlier work, these days Jackson seems to be finding a way to give a voice to marginalized people and issues that most other Hollywood filmmakers wouldn’t even think about touching. The fact that he’s still able to pull that off at such a ripe age is absolutely incredible, and it’s a testament both to his craft and his undeniable talent. If 2020 is any indication, then it looks like this charmer might just keep on ticking.