Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema are developing new ‘Lord of the Rings’ films.
Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema are returning to Middle-earth, with the company agreeing to make further Lord of the Rings films.
The multi-year agreement with rights holders Embracer Group AB permits Warners to create films based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. When Embracer Group purchased Middle-earth Enterprises from The Saul Zaentz Company last year, it obtained the rights to produce LOTR films, games, merchandising, theme park attractions, and live plays.
The announcement came during Warner Bros. Discovery’s investor call on Thursday, as CEO David Zaslav sought to reassure Wall Street that Warners is still very much in the franchise game, here harkening back to the studio’s glory days in the 2000s, when it was minting money with Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. In November, Zaslav stated that he would like to work with author J.K. Rowling to produce more Harry Potter films, and he also hinted at a Lord of the Rings reboot.
Peter Jackson directed the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which was released between 2001 and 2003. The series grossed a total of $2.9 billion at the box office, with Return of the King winning the Academy Award for best picture in 2003. Jackson is back to helm The Hobbit trilogy (2012-14). The animated film The War of the Rohirrim was originally scheduled for release in 2024 by New Line.
Jackson and his Lord of the Rings collaborators Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens issued a statement saying they were aware of the recent development. “Warner Bros. and Embracer have kept us in the loop every step of the journey,” the trio said. We look forward to engaging with them more to learn about their future plans for the brand.” (Previously, Jackson stated that Amazon approached him about participating in its Lord of the Rings TV show but did not follow up.)
The rights to Tolkien’s writings have always been a source of contention, and a court battle between Warner Bros. and the Tolkien estate lasted years until being concluded in 2017. A recent consumer complication: Amazon owns the Lord of the Rings TV rights, with the megabudget Rings of Power launching last year. One challenge for the new film series will be convincing people to go to the cinema when they can get their fill at home. One significant distinction is that Amazon focuses on the Second Age, thousands of years before the events depicted in the films. The film rights have been concentrated on the Third Age when the most famous events occurred and the most adored personalities lived. It’s probable that Warners may now focus on fresh stories centered on Tolkien’s main characters, such as Gandalf, Bilbo, and Aragorn.
And, of course, just as new films give chances for significant franchise swings, they will be scrutinized by fans in the same way that existing Warners franchise plays, such as DC and Fantastic Beasts, do.
Those working on the projects recognize the task ahead in a statement.
“We recognize how treasured these works are, and working with our partners at New Line Cinema and Warner Bros. Pictures, we plan to commemorate the past, look to the future, and stick to the highest level of quality and production qualities,” said Lee Guinchard, CEO of Embracer subsidiary Freemode.
“Twenty years ago, New Line took an unprecedented leap of faith to actualize the amazing tales, characters, and world of The Lord of the Rings on the big screen,” Warner Bros. film executives Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy said in a statement.
As a result, generations of fans have welcomed a landmark series of films. Despite the vastness and detail meticulously crammed into the two trilogies, J.R.R. Tolkien’s huge, complicated, and brilliant cosmos remains mostly unexplored on film. The opportunity to take fans deeper into the Middle-earth cinematic world is an honor, and we are thrilled to be working with Middle-earth Enterprises and Embracer on this adventure.”
The deal is not simply a reunion for LOTR, but also for De Luca. As the first film in the previous trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring, began production, the executive was president of a production for New Line, but he was famously let go before the film was released.