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J.R.R. Tolkien’s Family Disavows Fox Searchlight Biopic, Says ‘It Does Not Approve’ of Film

The author's estate says it does not approve the making of the film or endorse its release.



Fox Searchlight

J.R.R. Tolkien’s family and the Tolkien Estate have come forward to disavow the upcoming Fox Searchlight biopic that stars “X-Men” actor Nicholas Hoult as the iconic “Lord of the Rings” author. The film, titled “Tolkien,” is set for release next month. A statement released by both parties says they want to “make clear that they did not approve of, authorize, or participate in the making” of the film and “they do not endorse it or its content in any way.” Tolkien’s family and the Tolkien Estate have not seen the movie but have long turned down agreeing to any official biopics.

“Tolkien” is directed by Dome Karukoski, the Finnish filmmaker behind “The Grump” and “Tom of Finland,” and features a script written by David Gleeson (“Cowboys and Aliens”) and Stephen Beresford (“Pride”). Hoult stars in the title role, while Lily Collins plays Tolkien’s lifelong love and wife Edith Bratt. The supporting cast includes Tom Glynn-Carney, Anthony Boyle, Patrick Gibson, Albie Marber, Colm Meaney, and Genevieve O’Reilly. The release is Hoult’s second Searchlight effort in a row following “The Favourite,” and the actor also has his latest “X-Men” movie, “Dark Phoenix,” opening in theaters in June.

The official “Tolkien” synopsis from Fox Searchlight reads: “‘Tolkien’ explores the formative years of the orphaned author as he finds friendship, love and artistic inspiration among a group of fellow outcasts at school. This takes him into the outbreak of World War I, which threatens to tear the ‘fellowship’ apart. All of these experiences would inspire Tolkien to write his famous Middle-Earth novels.”

Searchlight responded to the family and Estate by writing in a statement: “We are so proud of Dome Karukoski’s film ‘Tolkien’ which focuses on the early years of J.R.R. Tolkien’s extraordinary life and does not depict subject matter from his novels.  While we did not work with the Tolkien Estate on this project, the filmmaking team has the utmost respect and admiration for Mr. Tolkien and his phenomenal contribution to literature.”

“Tolkien” is being positioned by Fox Searchlight to be counter-programming at the box office to giant summer tentpoles such as “Avengers: Endgame” and “Detective Pikachu.” “Tolkien” will be the first movie Searchlight releases under new parent, The Walt Disney Company. Based on the film’s trailer, “Tolkien” looks similar to “Finding Neverland” in the way it tackles a classic piece of literature and the author who wrote it with a slightly fantastical touch.

Fox Searchlight will open “Tolkien” in select theaters beginning May 10.

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