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FutureStarrLord of the Rings Movies in Development
Two decades ago this month, The Lord of the Rings trilogy premiered and revolutionized how fantasy could be depicted on film. Today, several new Lord of the Rings movies are in development.
Will they stay true to the original trilogy and be made in New Zealand, where filming for the series took place?
New Line Cinema has inked a deal with Embracer Group that will enable them to produce more Lord of the Rings movies. This comes two decades after Peter Jackson's epic trilogy was released - widely considered one of the greatest and most beloved films ever created.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy, consisting of The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Two Towers (2002) and The Return of King (2003), earned nearly $6 billion at the global box office. Additionally, seventeen Oscars were won for this epic project; eleven went to "The Return of the King".
Since 2001, New Line has released The Hobbit series -- consisting of three films -- An Unexpected Journey (2012), The Desolation of Smaug (2013) and The Battle of the Five Armies (2014). Together, these movies earned nearly $2 billion at the box office with The Battle of the Five Armies earning the most during its opening weekend and going on to break all previous box-office records.
In August, Embracer Group, a Swedish gaming and media company, acquired Middle-earth Enterprises from The Saul Zaentz Company. This acquisition granted them exclusive worldwide film, games, merchandise, theme park productions and live performances based on J. R. R. Tolkien's works such as The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
Amazon Prime Video previously carried The Rings of Power, based off Tolkien's novel "The Return of the King" that includes notes about Middle-earth's Second Age centuries before The Lord of the Rings events. That TV series has now been renewed for another season; however, what season it will take remains uncertain.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros and New Line Cinema are planning new films set in J. R. R. Tolkien's world; however, they won't be retreading material from The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit, meaning neither will be a major component of these new movies.
The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit franchises are two of cinema's most beloved properties. Peter Jackson's original trilogy and subsequent films have collectively grossed over $6 billion at the box office, becoming iconic landmarks in many fans' lives.
But the series has been stuck in development hell for years - and it's possible that future movies won't be directed by Jackson. Additionally, there's uncertainty if there will be enough interest in more Tolkien films without its beloved director.
Warner Bros. recently inked a deal with Embracer Group, a Swedish gaming company, to acquire the film rights to Tolkien's world. This agreement, announced by CEO David Zaslav during their Q4 2022 earnings call Thursday, will enable New Line Cinema and Warner Bros. Pictures to create "multiple features" based on both books according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Zaslav announced during the call that the deal will be "multi-year," with an aim to "revive" the Lord of the Rings franchise. Additionally, it's part of a wider initiative to create more big screen franchises, according to Zaslav.
Amazon currently owns the television rights to Tolkien's stories. In 2017, they invested nearly $250 million for licensing these rights and launched their high-budget TV series Rings of Power last year.
The company is also developing an animated Lord of the Rings movie that will hit theaters in 2024. Set 183 years before events of upcoming films, this animated movie will star young Rohirrim.
Finally, Embracer Group acquired the rights to Tolkien's works for use in games, merchandise and theme park attractions from Middle-earth Enterprises - a subsidiary of The Saul Zaentz Company - in August 2022.
Fans of Lord of the Rings (LOTR) will be especially thrilled by news of more movies in development. It has been a while since we've seen live-action adaptations of these beloved fantasy worlds onscreen, and fans are eager to revisit what they fell in love with decades ago.
In the early aughts, Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy reignited interest in J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy world. Many fans enjoyed watching the movies - they even won an Oscar for Best Picture! However, some critics had some issues with them as well.
One of the critics was Christopher Tolkien, the author's son and literary executor, who reportedly thought Jackson's films "eviscerated" his father's work. It's likely no accident that he didn't want Jackson to direct Amazon's expensive Lord of the Rings TV show The Rings of Power which will air next month on Prime Video.
Though the Amazon series won't precisely recreate the events of the trilogy (it's described as a prequel), it will include elements from Middle-earth that are familiar to fans of the trilogy. This serves to make the show feel more genuine for viewers.
Therefore, it appears Amazon should have been able to persuade Jackson to join their project. He's an avid fan of the franchise and well-versed in Middle-earth, so it wouldn't be a stretch for him to be drawn into the show.
However, the situation is complex. According to reports, the Tolkien estate is opposed to Jackson working on the series, and sources have told THR that this was a source of contention between him and its showrunners.
Amazon had great respect for Jackson, and Sharon Tal Yguado - Amazon's head of genre programming - strongly advocated his involvement. That made it easier to persuade Jackson, but ultimately he still refused to direct a billion-dollar television series that doesn't even follow the same storyline as the three trilogy's.
Jackson is an unabashed fan of the franchise, and Amazon has a huge budget for their series. Reports indicate that Jackson was asked to direct and sent scripts but never followed through with them.
A new animated Lord of the Rings movie is in development at Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema, reports Deadline. The project will explore the bloody saga behind the Helm’s Deep fortress, delving into the life and times of one of Middle-earth’s most legendary figures – the mighty King of Rohan, Helm Hammerhand.
The new film will be directed by Kenji Kamiyama (Blade Runner: Black Lotus, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex) and produced by Joseph Chou. It will be written by Jeffrey Addiss and Will Matthews, the creators of Netflix’s Emmy-winning The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. Philippa Boyens, who co-wrote the screenplays for the original Tolkien movies and won an Oscar for her work, is also consulting on the project.
According to Deadline, the animated film will take place 250 years before the events of The Fellowship of the Ring. It will expand upon a short story that Tolkien left in the appendices to The Lord of the Rings, describing Helm Hammerhand’s death after he confronted a rival lord during a council meeting.
In a press release, New Line says the movie will explore the untold story of Helm’s Deep and the mighty king who ruled it, exploring “the bloody saga behind the fortress” that made The Two Towers so memorable. It will be “a companion piece to Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth trilogy” and a way to expand the epic scope and detail that Tolkien envisioned in his books, but it will also be a standalone film.
It will feature voices from Succession’s Brian Cox, Our Girl’s Luke Pasqualino and Miranda Otto reprising her role as Rohan noblewoman Eowyn. It will be directed by Ghost in the Shell veteran Kenji Kamiyama and written by Jeffrey Addiss and Will Matthews.
If the movie succeeds, it will be a welcome addition to a growing list of Lord of the Rings films. However, it will be hard to match the level of storytelling and visual beauty that Jackson’s films deliver. Amazon’s series, meanwhile, is set thousands of years before the events of Tolkien’s books, at a time when many of Middle-earth’s major powers had not yet been formed.