By Eric Kohn | Indiewire August 24, 2011 at 7:00AM
HBO is prepared to greenlight a fourth documentary in the "Paradise Lost" saga. Peter Jackson says he's still funding investigation into the real culprits behind the murders. However, "Paradise Lost" director Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky say they aren't ready to commit to shooting another doc about the West Memphis Three.
In response to this week's release of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelly after 18 years in prison, longtime HBO documentary president Sheila Nevins told The Hollywood Reporter, "I think we're ready for 'Paradise Lost 4.'"
The release occurred just weeks ahead of the premiere of the third entry in the series, "Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory," set to take place at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. New footage shot by directors Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky has been filmed to reflect the recent events, but it won't be ready in time for TIFF. However, the final cut will screen in October at the New York Film Festival and receive an awards-qualifying run.
Still hard at work on finishing that version, the filmmakers say they haven't even started to consider a fourth film.
"Bruce and I are still digesting the amazing events of the past week," Berlinger told indieWIRE during a break from the editing room. "If HBO thinks there is a film to be made, we will certainly keep that door open. Emotionally, however, it does feel like it's the end of an era."
Meanwhile, Entertainment Weekly reports that director Peter Jackson and his partner Fran Walsh will continue to fund the West Memphis Three investigation. Per EW:
“The ongoing work will focus on proving the convicted men’s innocence, as it always has,” says Jackson’s manager, Ken Kamins. He adds that the investigation will include “evidence testing and further investigation which will hopefully lead to the unmasking of the actual killer.”
Jackson has funded private investigations into the case for several years. In a note posted on Facebook last week, the director expressed his enthusiasm for the prisoners' release, but added, "let's not think for a second that justice was served today."
At the press conference following his release, Damien Echols said his future plans were much as they were in prison -- finding out the identity of the real killers.
The West Memphis Three were released under what's known as an Alford plea -- a guilty plea in criminal court in which the defendant does not admit the act and asserts innocence, but admits that sufficient evidence exists for the prosecution to likely find them guilty.
Says Kamins: “Peter and Fran are heavily involved in ongoing investigations, and the release of the guys is far from the end of the story.”
The first two installments in the "Paradise Lost" series are scheduled to air on HBO next week.