Warner Milks Middle-earth With More ‘The Lord of the Rings’ Films

Warner Bros. and New Line are taking a trip back down the hobbit hole with a deal that could spell many more Lord of the Rings (LOTR) works in the future. 

The multi-year pact with rights holder Embracer Group AB, a Swedish gaming company that had acquired the rights to produce LOTR films, games, merchandise, theme park attractions, and live productions, will allow Warner to develop features based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books and The Hobbit.

Advertisement ▼

This blast from the past, announced during Warner Bros. Discovery’s investor call, is a show of assurance from CEO David Zaslav to Wall Street that Warners is still playing ball in the franchise game. The move is a call back to the 2000s glory days where LOTR, Harry Potter, and Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy were bringing cash to burn for the studio. Zaslav had also revealed, in November, that he would like to make a deal with author J.K Rowling for yet more Harry Potter.

Peter Jackson (King Kong, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies), whose directorial lead of the LOTR trilogy had seen a combined US$2.9 billion (S$3.9 billion) at the box office, along with his Lord of the Ring partners, Fran Walsh (Mortal Engines, The Lovely Bones) and Philippa Boyens (King Kong, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug), told the The Hollywood Reporter that they were aware of this development.

“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.”

Jackson also revealed that Amazon had asked him to be involved in its LOTR TV show but never followed up with it.

The studio might have gotten their taste of Tolkein’s works by acquiring the franchise’s movie rights, but will still have its work cut out in drawing people back out to the cinemas, especially with Amazon holding the TV rights to give fans their LOTR fix with shows like The Rings of Power. However, the movie rights will allow the studio to explore the Third Age where, allegedly, the best-known events happened, and the best characters live. A Gandalf, Bilbo, or Aragon spin-off, anyone?

The studio has also prepped itself to face fans’ scrutiny, just like they did with DC and the Fantastic Beasts franchise, well aware that with great fandom comes great ‘don’t-you-dare-mess-it-up’.

“We understand how cherished these works are, and working together with our partners at New Line Cinema and Warner Bros. Pictures, we plan to honour the past, look to the future, and adhere to the strongest level of quality and production values,” said Lee Guinchard, CEO of Freemode, which is part of Embracer, to The Hollywood Reporter.

Everything is still a mystery, with Warner Bros. film bosses Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy signalling that the studio plans to veer away from the ‘traditional’ Peter Jackson LOTR formula to delve deeper into the unexplored universe dreamt up by J.R.R. Tolkien.