Film Editor Jess Parker discusses the announcement that new The Lord of the Rings films are in the works at Warner Bros
Warner Bros has announced that a new franchise of The Lord of the Rings movies is in the works, 20 years after Peter Jackson’s cult-classic trilogy was released. Chief Executive David Zaslav discussed the deal that was brokered with Swedish gaming giant Embracer Group, stating that the company aimed to release “multiple” films based on the works of author JRR Tolkien. Embracer Group owns most of the rights to Tolkien’s literary universe and has not announced the value of the lucrative deal. With The Lord of the Rings already having such a successful trilogy, fans of Tolkien must ask what the point of a new series of movies is.
This new deal appears to be keeping Jackson’s franchise in mind as they move forward with production, with Jackson stating to Variety that Warner Bros and Embracer group have kept Jackson and his collaborators “in the loop every step of the way”. The new The Lord of the Rings movies will be developed with New Line Cinema, who also produced Jackson’s original trilogy between 2001 and 2003.
Jackson’s trilogy has become a fantasy classic, grossing $3 billion worldwide. The series’ third instalment, The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, swept the board at the 2004 Oscars, winning 11 awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. Lee Guinchard, Chief executive at Embracer Freemode, spoke on the company’s reverence of Jackson’s work, stating: “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.”
However, fans are well within their rights to feel cautious towards this new proposition. Amazon Prime’s original series, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, received mixed reviews in its attempt to revitalise Tolkien’s world, with Luke Holland of The Guardian noting that “whether you’re a Tolkien obsessive or the sort of dabbler who doesn’t give an Ent’s conker what a Silmarillion is, it’s not hard to see why reactions to The Rings of Power have been…mixed”. Amazon currently owns the Television rights to The Lord of the Rings, spending more than $450 million on The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Although many grew to love Amazon Prime’s series, living up to Jackson’s beloved and critically-acclaimed trilogy is evidently a mean feat.
Fans of Tolkien’s work must ask, why would Warner Bros work on more of The Lord of the Rings movies when the franchise already has such an incredibly well-regarded trilogy of adaptations? Although Tolkien’s fictional world spans farther than Jackson’s trilogy could touch on, it feels as though the production giant is simply favouring a safe option in the popular franchise over venturing into something perhaps more original. The idea that Warner Bros is planning an MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) style franchise feels optimistic at best. Considering the cult following that Jackson’s trilogy has already amassed, it feels as though Warner Bros may be setting itself up for incredibly high fan expectations, much like Amazon did with The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, which may be challenging to live up to in a world oversaturated with a range of high-fantasy franchises.
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