Warner Bros. does not simply walk away from Mordor forever. New films in the “Lord of the Rings” franchise are in the works at Warner Bros. Pictures.
The news was announced Thursday by Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav, during the company’s Q4 2022 earnings. According to Zaslav, Warner Bros. Pictures heads Mike De Luca and Pam Abdy have signed a deal for multiple new films set in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth universe with New Line Cinema, the producer of Peter Jackson’s beloved “Lord of the Rings” 2001 film trilogy, and Middle-earth Enterprises, a division of Embracer Group’s operative group Freemode.
“Following our recent acquisition of Middle-earth Enterprises, we’re thrilled to embark on this new collaborative journey with New Line Cinema and Warner Bros. Pictures, bringing the incomparable world of J.R.R. Tolkien back to the big screen in new and exciting ways,” Freemode CEO Lee Guinchard said in a statement. “We understand how cherished these works are and working together with our partners at New Line Cinema and Warner Bros. Pictures, we plan to honor the past, look to the future, and adhere to the strongest level of quality and production values.”
Additional information about these upcoming films — including plot details, creative teams, or release windows — have not been announced. Currently, an anime movie “The War of the Rohirrim,” which serves as a prequel set 183 years before Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings,” is in development at New Line Cinema and Warner Bros. Animation. The movie — which features voice acting from Brian Cox and original film star Miranda Otto — is currently scheduled to release in theaters on April 12, 2024.
Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” films are based on Tolkien’s seminal fantasy novel of the same name, which was released from July 1954 to October 1955 in three volumes: “The Fellowship of the Ring,” “The Two Towers,” and “The Return of the King.” One of the best-selling books of all time with over 150 million copies sold worldwide, the epic is set on the fantasy world of Middle-Earth, and focuses on the quest of hobbit Frodo Baggins and his allies to destroy the One Ring, a magical artifact that would give Dark Lord Sauron the power to rule the world.
The film trilogy — which featured an ensemble cast including Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Cate Blanchett, John Rhys-Davies, Christopher Lee, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Orlando Bloom, Hugo Weaving, Andy Serkis, and Sean Bean — adapted each volume and released from 2001 to 2003. The three movies are among the most acclaimed blockbusters of all time, winning 17 Oscars; “Return of the King” gained 11 alone, tying the record for most Oscar wins by a single film with “Ben-Hur” and “Titanic.”
Jackson later returned to Middle-Earth by adapting Tolkien’s first-published Middle-Earth work, the 1937 children’s book “The Hobbit,” into a three-part trilogy from 2014 onward; the films received mixed reviews but were box office successes. In total, all six films have grossed more than $6 billion worldwide.
“20 years ago, New Line took an unprecedented leap of faith to realize the incredible stories, characters and world of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ on the big screen. The result was a landmark series of films that have been embraced by generations of fans,” De Luca and Abdy said in a statement. “But for all the scope and detail lovingly packed into the two trilogies, 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.”
Aside from the Warner Bros. “Lord of the Rings” projects, Middle-Earth and Tolkien’s writings also serve as the basis for “The Rings of Power,” a Prime Video fantasy series that Amazon Studios produces in association with New Line Cinema. The series, which is not an extension of the Jackson films, premiered last September to generally positive reviews, and Amazon has reported that it’s the most viewed series from the streamer. Morfydd Clark, Ismael Cruz Córdova, Charlie Vickers, Owain Arthur, Benjamin Walker, and Robert Aramayo lead the ensemble cast of “The Rings of Power,” which is expected to premiere its second season in 2024.
Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.