Lord Of The Rings: Everything We Know About The Upcoming Movies
20 years after Peter Jackson's movies, WB/New Line is beginning work on new films.
Believe it or not, Peter Jackson's Oscar-winning The Lord of the Rings movies debuted more than 20 years ago. The third movie, Return of the King, swept the Oscars and won 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director for Jackson. He followed those up with a much less critically adored (but still commercially successful!) The Hobbit trilogy. Now, two decades on, Warner Bros. and New Line have announced plans to make new The Lord of the Rings movies, and that makes for potentially exciting news for fans of the series.
As with any announcement about new entries to a beloved series, some fans are skeptical, and understandably so. WB/New Line is plotting ahead with an attempt to create what insiders are calling a Star Wars-like universe for Middle-earth. These new movies are coming as Amazon Studios plots its own legally and creatively distinct Lord of the Rings project with the TV series The Rings of Power, which is now under production for Season 2.
In this post, we're rounding up everything we know about the new Lord of the Rings movies.
The Announcement And Vision
Out of seemingly nowhere, WB Discovery boss David Zaslav announced on an earnings call in February 2023 that WB/New Line would be developing new The Lord of the Rings films. The executive did not provide a whole lot of context and commentary, but management made it clear that the new films will not be remakes of Jackson's films or retread old ground.
"For all the scope and detail lovingly packed into the two trilogies, the vast, complex and dazzling universe dreamed up by J.R.R. Tolkien remains largely unexplored on film," Warner Bros Pictures Group Co-CEOs Michael De Luca and Pam Addy said. "The opportunity to invite fans deeper into the cinematic world of Middle-earth is an honor, and we are excited to partner with Middle-earth Enterprises and Embracer on this adventure."
Who owns Lord of the Rings?
The Swedish gaming giant Embracer acquired Middle-earth Enterprises, the stewards and rights-owners to The Lord of the Rings series, in August 2022. Embracer then brokered a deal with WB/New Line to make additional films, which is what the February announcement was. Embracer also owns the rights to The Lord of the Rings video games, and the company has five titles in the works to be released in the next two years. Middle-earth Enterprises was formerly owned and controlled by the Saul Zaentz Company, which was suing Warner Bros. over claims that it was not fulfilling its duties to retain the Lord of the Rings license. To try to settle things, WB announced a new Lord of the Rings animated movie, War of the Rohirrim, but Zaentz said this was "insufficient," according to The Hollywood Reporter. Given the crumbling relationship, Embracer stepped in and bought Middle-earth Enterprises and got into business with WB/New Line.
What Will The New Movies Actually Be?
That's a key question, and one that hasn't been answered yet. For its part, Embracer said it might explore potential films surrounding characters like Aragorn, Gandalf, Galadriel, and others, but according to The Hollywood Reporter, there are no scripts yet. It's still very early days, it would seem, making WB/New Line's announcement more of a first step in what may be a long journey. In any event, insiders speaking to THR said WB/New Line is aiming to create a Star Wars-like cinematic universe for The Lord of the Rings, and that might be an exciting or terrifying description to hear for fans of the fantasy franchise.
Is Peter Jackson Involved?
Jackson is a massive fan of The Lord of the Rings and his passion is part of what made the original trilogy so great. So fans may be happy to learn that Jackson–along with his writing partners Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyens–have been briefed on the plans for WB/New Line's new films. That's a key point, too, because the trio were not involved in Amazon's The Rings of Power, and fans have made their feelings clear about this. Whether or not Jackson, Walsh, and Boyens will return for any of the new films in an official capacity beyond advisory roles is unclear. However, THR said WB Discovery CEO David Zaslav is hoping to "woo back" Jackson.
War of the Rohirrim
While fans will no doubt have to wait years for any new Lord of the Rings movie, WB/New Line is actually already producing an animated Lord of the Rings film due for release in 2024. The Lord of the Rings: War of the Rohirrim is in production now, with Brian Cox and LOTR veteran Mirando Otto lined up for voice roles in the flick.
How Does Rings of Power Fit In?
Amazon Studios made one of the biggest investments ever for its Lord of the Rings TV show, The Rings of Power, with the company reportedly paying $250 million for the rights alone. The production costs, meanwhile, are rumored to stretch into the hundreds of millions of dollars. Amazon Studios is moving ahead with Season 2, which is filming now, and the creatives have plans for five seasons in total, so The Rings of Power seems like it'll be around for the long-term and potentially go up against new films from WB/New Line. Can the two co-exist? According to Amazon Studios boss Jennifer Salke, they sure can, because the fandom is so large.
"We love our original series. We're extremely proud of it, and invested long term. So, we definitely think there's enough fan love to sustain ours for a long time," she said.
Does Anyone Actually Want More LOTR Movies?
The last big Middle-earth movie (not counting Fox's 2019 film Tolkien starring Nicholas Hoult as the iconic author) was The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies from Peter Jackson in 2014. Much has already been written about the creative struggles of those films, with Jackson eventually admitting he had no idea what he was doing and making things up as he went along. This was in great contrast to his Lord of the Rings movies, which benefited from extensive storyboarding and pre-production work that helped the final product shine.
This leads to the question of whether or not Lord of the Rings fans even want to see more movies. An insider told THR that WB/New Line's announcement of more movies was a "sign of desperation" to help rekindle the glory days of old. "The Hobbit didn't leave people wanting more," the source said.
That level of pessimism, of course, doesn't speak for everyone, and anything can happen in the future. The fact that The Hobbit wasn't so well-loved doesn't necessarily mean much of anything about what future films might look like. Time will tell, and as Aragorn says, "There is always hope."
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