British director James Strong has signed on to direct the J.R.R. Tolkien biopic “Middle Earth,” to be produced by former New Line Cinema heads Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne’s Unique Features, Deadline reports. The film will focus on the events that inspired Tolkien to author books including “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings.” It will cover the period in his life from his romance with Edith Bratt, who later became his wife, through his four years spent fighting in World War I.
Strong has directed primarily TV series during the past 15 years, including “Broadchurch” and “Downton Abbey,” and is currently at work on the upcoming miniseries “Liar,” a 21st-century take on modern-day gender politics and family life. His most recent feature film directing credit is the 2011 historical drama “United,” based on the true story of Manchester United’s legendary Busby Babes, the youngest ever championship soccer team in the history of the Premier League, and the club that lost eight members in a 1958 plane crash.
“Middle Earth” screenwriter Angus Fletcher spent six years researching and gathering materials on Tolkien’s life. One of Fletcher’s recent writing projects is an adaptation of E.M. Forster’s “The Longest Journey,” to be made by Classic Film Productions and Sleeping Giant Films.
Shaye and Lynne produced all three “The Lord of the Rings” films at New Line, grossing nearly $3 billion at the worldwide box office.