Please be more LOTR, less Hobbit… Warner Bros. has announced a deal with Embracer Group AB that will allow the studio to develop more films based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s iconic Lord of the Rings books and The Hobbit. The move comes as Warner Bros. seeks to assure investors about its franchise future, with CEO David Zaslav referencing the studio’s past successes with Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. Zaslav has already expressed interest in making a deal with author J.K. Rowling for more Harry Potter.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy, directed by Peter Jackson and released from 2001-03, earned a combined $2.9 billion at the box office, with 2003’s Return of the King winning the Oscar for best picture. Jackson also returned to direct The Hobbit trilogy (2012-14). Warner Bros. already has the animated feature The War of the Rohirrim scheduled for release in 2024. Sharing a statement with the Hollywood Reporter, Jackson and his Lord of the Rings partners Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens noted they were aware of the latest development. Said the trio: “Warner Bros. and Embracer have kept us in the loop every step of the way. We look forward to speaking with them further to hear their vision for the franchise moving forward.”
However, the new deal is not without its challenges. Amazon holds the TV rights to Lord of the Rings, with its megabudget Rings of Power series debuting last year set during the Second Age. It’s likely these new films will both explore new territory but tie back to familiar and beloved characters, like Gandalf, Bilbo and Aragorn as illustrated in current Warner Bros. thinking.
Warner Bros. film bosses Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy conveyed that they have no desire to repeat what Jackson has already accomplished, saying in their statement: “The vast, complex and dazzling universe dreamed up by J.R.R. Tolkien remains largely unexplored on film. 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.”
Will Peter Jackson return? We certainly hope so but old PJ, not the HFR Hobbit one!
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