In what would seem to be the best news for fantasy genre lovers, Warner Bros. is looking to create a new The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film series. The announcement was made by David Zaslav, the CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, during one of the company’s Earnings calls. Zaslav announced that the new deal would see its company’s studio leader collaborate to make multiple movies.
According to David Zaslav, the new Lord of the Rings movies will be based on J. R. R. Tolkien’s original novels as well as other parts of his lore. This gives filmmakers a chance to revisit the creative world of Middle-earth and expand on the stories of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. This is coming on the heels of Amazon’s prequel TV show The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, with season 1 having finished airing only months before this announcement.
What The Warner Bros. New Line Deal Means For LOTR
The Warner Bros. deal would see the company work with the new owners of Middle-earth Enterprises to produce more films for the franchise. Middle-earth Enterprises, formerly known as Tolkien Enterprises, holds the exclusive rights to certain important aspects of J. R. R. Tolkien’s literary works. This includes characters’ names and the fantasy elements of the story and setting from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
With access to rights held by Middle-earth Enterprises, there are a lot of creative opportunities to kickstart yet another film series. Although Tolkien’s Middle-earth work is synonymous with The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, there are still a lot of stories in Tolkien’s world left to explore. Although the announcement makes no mention of The Silmarillion, there are more than enough tales in the story collection to inspire many films and there are hints of all-new stories about favorite characters from the more famous stories.
What The New Lord Of The Rings Movies May Be About
Besides the promise of multiple new Lord of the Rings films, David Zaslav gave no further information on plots, characters, or possible showrunners. With Peter Jackson’s established version of Tolkien’s Middle-earth at the front of everyone’s minds, there’s a possibility the films will still be set in the Third Age. Taking cues from the upcoming seventh film set in the canon of Jackson’s vision of Middle-earth, the anime movie The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim, it’s easy to speculate on possible directions these new movies could go.
Although an anime rather than a live-action fantasy, The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim is set to be a prequel to Peter Jackson’s second LOTR film, The Two Towers (2002). Its storyline is set 183 years before the events seen in The Two Towers. The anime movie is set for release on April 12, 2024.
Prequels are an easy favorite for storytelling when creating a new movie in an established series. In The Lord of the Rings film series, it wouldn’t be the first time New Line Cinema had worked to develop prequel narratives. Although The Hobbit was based on another Tolkien novel with the same name, it was a direct prequel to the LOTR trilogy.
The Hobbit was adapted as a full trilogy from a single book with a focus on the adventure of the hobbit Bilbo and thirteen dwarves. With Peter Jackson still at the helm of the franchise, The Hobbit prequel helped expound on the events that led to The Lord of the Rings plot. Should the studio hire Peter Jackson as the director for its new film series, there’s a possibility another prequel would be a natural choice. This is easily achievable since thousands of years lead to the events of The Lord of the Rings.
Since The Lord of the Rings film trilogy ended in 2003, there have been no live-action sequels or attempts at a sequel. However, J. R. R. Tolkien made a 13-page attempt at writing a sequel. Titled The New Shadow, Tolkien’s sequel is set over 200 years after the end of the LOTR trilogy. This puts the sequel in the Fourth Age or what Tolkien refers to as the Age of Men.
However, Tolkien abandoned the work after about 13 pages, feeling it was too dark as a sequel after the triumph over Sauron in Return of the King. Tolkien made no additions to the manuscript before his death. The manuscript talks of an evil, the Dark Tree, and follows the conversation between two men, Borlas and Saelon.
The 13-page source material is enough for scriptwriters to expound on and adapt a live-action movie. Besides, there’s no denying one of the reasons for the success of LOTR was its dark theme, having good overcoming evil. While this is a possible direction, other sequel plots can exist.
J. R. R Tolkien has several collections of stories and myths that were not published during his lifetime. After Tolkien’s death, his son Christopher Tolkien edited and published these stories. This body of work is The Silmarillion. As source material, it offers diverse storylines to create a film series.
The Silmarillion is made up of five main parts, each focusing on different ages of Middle-earth. The five parts speak of a time before the First Age, the creation of Eä (a mythic world), the downfall of Númenor, and the Second & Third Ages. With Amazon’s Rings of Power already exploring parts of the Second Age, it’s unlikely Warner Bros. would want to play in that direction.
Several character arcs in LOTR can have films centered around them, either as prequels or sequels. Although there’s no Tolkien novel to use as exclusive source material, character arcs always allow for creative freedom. A good example of a character sequel based on Tolkien’s book is following the lives of Legolas and Gimli. In Tolkien’s The Two Towers, both warriors agree to travel together to the Glittering Caves and Fangorn Forest.
When The New Lord Of The Rings Movies Could Be Released
With not much to go on, it all boils down to speculations at this point. It’s uncertain if there’s a script for the first film and who has been hired to direct or produce. However, judging by the production timeline for the LOTR trilogy, it would take a year or two before it’s released. Production for all three movies in the LOTR trilogy began on October 11, 1999, and wrapped up on December 22, 2000. Barring any unforeseen delays, if Warner Bros. gives the green light for production, a new Lord of the Rings live-action movie could be released before the end of 2025.
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