The Most Famous

FILM DIRECTORS from New Zealand

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This page contains a list of the greatest New Zealander Film Directors. The pantheon dataset contains 1,580 Film Directors, 10 of which were born in New Zealand. This makes New Zealand the birth place of the 25th most number of Film Directors behind Georgia and South Korea.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary New Zealander Film Directors of all time. This list of famous New Zealander Film Directors is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of New Zealander Film Directors.

Photo of Peter Jackson

1. Peter Jackson (1961 - )

With an HPI of 72.15, Peter Jackson is the most famous New Zealander Film Director.  His biography has been translated into 77 different languages on wikipedia.

Sir Peter Robert Jackson (born 31 October 1961) is a New Zealand film director, screenwriter, and film producer. He is best known as the director, writer, and producer of the Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001–03) and the Hobbit trilogy (2012–14), both of which are adapted from the novels of the same name by J. R. R. Tolkien. Other notable films include the critically lauded drama Heavenly Creatures (1994), the horror comedy The Frighteners (1996), the epic monster remake film King Kong (2005), and the World War I documentary film They Shall Not Grow Old (2018). He is the third-highest-grossing film director of all-time, his films having made over $6.5 billion worldwide.Jackson began his career with the "splatstick" horror comedy Bad Taste (1987) and the black comedy Meet the Feebles (1989) before filming the zombie comedy Braindead (1992). He shared a nomination for Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay with his partner Fran Walsh for Heavenly Creatures, which brought him to mainstream prominence in the film industry. Jackson has been awarded three Academy Awards for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), including the award for Best Director. His other awards include a Golden Globe, four Saturn Awards and three BAFTAs among others. His production company is WingNut Films, and his most regular collaborators are co-writers and producers Walsh and Philippa Boyens. Jackson was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2002. He was later knighted (as a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit) by Anand Satyanand, the Governor-General of New Zealand, at a ceremony in Wellington in April 2010. In December 2014, Jackson was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Photo of Martin Campbell

2. Martin Campbell (1943 - )

With an HPI of 65.95, Martin Campbell is the 2nd most famous New Zealander Film Director.  His biography has been translated into 31 different languages.

Martin Campbell (born 24 October 1944) is a New Zealand film and television director based in the United Kingdom. He is best known for directing the highly regarded British miniseries Edge of Darkness (1985), for which he won a BAFTA, The Mask of Zorro (1998), and the James Bond films GoldenEye (1995) and Casino Royale (2006).

Photo of Jane Campion

3. Jane Campion (1954 - )

With an HPI of 64.47, Jane Campion is the 3rd most famous New Zealander Film Director.  Her biography has been translated into 37 different languages.

Dame Elizabeth Jane Campion (born 30 April 1954) is a New Zealand screenwriter, producer, and director. She is the second of seven women ever nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director and the first female filmmaker to receive the Palme d'Or; both of these achievements came for The Piano (1993). She also won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for the same film. At the 78th Venice International Film Festival, she won the Silver Lion award for directing The Power of the Dog (2021). Campion is also known for directing the films An Angel at My Table (1990), Holy Smoke! (1998), and Bright Star (2009).

Photo of Andrew Niccol

4. Andrew Niccol (1964 - )

With an HPI of 62.47, Andrew Niccol is the 4th most famous New Zealander Film Director.  His biography has been translated into 28 different languages.

Andrew Niccol (born 10 June 1964) is a New Zealand screenwriter, producer, and director. He wrote and directed Gattaca (1997), Simone (2002), Lord of War (2005), In Time (2011), The Host (2013), and Good Kill (2014). He wrote and co-produced The Truman Show, which earned him a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and won him the BAFTA Award in the same category. His films tend to explore social, cultural and political issues, as well as artificial realities or simulations.His film Good Kill was selected to compete for the Golden Lion at the 71st Venice International Film Festival.

Photo of Lee Tamahori

5. Lee Tamahori (1950 - )

With an HPI of 58.78, Lee Tamahori is the 5th most famous New Zealander Film Director.  His biography has been translated into 22 different languages.

Warren Lee Tamahori (; born 17 June 1950) is a New Zealand filmmaker best known for directing the 1994 film Once Were Warriors, the 2001 film Along Came a Spider, and 2002's James Bond film Die Another Day.

Photo of Fran Walsh

6. Fran Walsh (1959 - )

With an HPI of 58.20, Fran Walsh is the 6th most famous New Zealander Film Director.  Her biography has been translated into 24 different languages.

Dame Frances Rosemary Walsh (born 10 January 1959) is a New Zealand screenwriter, film producer, and lyricist. The partner of filmmaker Peter Jackson, Walsh has contributed to all of his films since 1989: as co-writer since Meet the Feebles, and as producer since The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. She has won three Academy Awards for the final film of the trilogy, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

Photo of Geoff Murphy

7. Geoff Murphy (1938 - 2018)

With an HPI of 57.18, Geoff Murphy is the 7th most famous New Zealander Film Director.  His biography has been translated into 15 different languages.

Geoffrey Peter Murphy (12 October 1938 – 3 December 2018) was a New Zealand filmmaker, producer, director, and screenwriter best known for his work during the renaissance of New Zealand cinema that began in the second half of the 1970s. His second feature Goodbye Pork Pie (1981) was the first New Zealand film to win major commercial success on its own soil. Murphy directed several Hollywood features during the 1990s, before returning to New Zealand as second-unit director on The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Murphy was also at different times a scriptwriter, special effects technician, schoolteacher and trumpet player. He was married to Merata Mita, also a film director, actor, writer.

Photo of Andrew Adamson

8. Andrew Adamson (1966 - )

With an HPI of 56.39, Andrew Adamson is the 8th most famous New Zealander Film Director.  His biography has been translated into 24 different languages.

Andrew Ralph Adamson (born 1 December 1966) is a New Zealand film director, producer, and screenwriter based in Los Angeles, where he directed the Academy Award-winning animated films Shrek and Shrek 2. He was director, executive producer, and scriptwriter for the 2005 production of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. He also worked on the movies Batman Forever and Batman & Robin as a visual effects supervisor. He was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to film, in the 2006 Queen's Birthday Honours.

Photo of Niki Caro

9. Niki Caro (1967 - )

With an HPI of 54.19, Niki Caro is the 9th most famous New Zealander Film Director.  Her biography has been translated into 21 different languages.

Nikola Jean Caro (born 20 September 1966) is a New Zealand film director and screenwriter. Her 2002 film Whale Rider was critically praised and won a number of awards at international film festivals. She directed the 2020 live action version of Disney's Mulan, making her the second female and the second New Zealand director hired by Disney to direct a film budgeted at over $100 million.

Photo of Andrew Dominik

10. Andrew Dominik (1967 - )

With an HPI of 50.31, Andrew Dominik is the 10th most famous New Zealander Film Director.  His biography has been translated into 15 different languages.

Andrew Dominik (born 7 October 1967) is an Australian film director and screenwriter. He has directed the crime film Chopper (2000), the Western drama film The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007), and the neo-noir crime film Killing Them Softly (2012). He has also directed the documentary film One More Time with Feeling (2016) and two episodes of the Netflix series Mindhunter in 2019.

Pantheon has 10 people classified as film directors born between 1938 and 1967. Of these 10, 9 (90.00%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living film directors include Peter Jackson, Martin Campbell, and Jane Campion. The most famous deceased film directors include Geoff Murphy. As of October 2020, 2 new film directors have been added to Pantheon including Geoff Murphy and Andrew Dominik.

Living Film Directors

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Deceased Film Directors

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Newly Added Film Directors (2020)

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