During the same financial call in which Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav revealed Mortal Kombat 12 is coming this year, he also mentioned The Lord of the Rings. Rights to adapt J.R.R. Tolkien's stories to film were part of the spending spree Embracer Group went on last year, and the co-chairs and CEOs of Warner Bros. Pictures Group, Michael De Luca and Pam Abdy, struck a deal with Embracer to make "multiple Lord of the Rings movies," Zaslav said. "Lord of the Rings is one of the most iconic storytelling franchises of all time, and we're so excited."
A press release from Embracer Group (opens in new tab) goes into it further without actually adding any more real detail, except to clarify that this is a "multi-year agreement to collaborate on feature films based on The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit."
"Twenty 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," De Luca and Abdy were quoted as saying. "The result was a landmark series of films that have been embraced by generations of fans. 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."
These movies and this deal are unrelated to The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim, an anime prequel that was announced shortly before Embracer acquired the Middle-earth film rights. That's still due to come out in April of 2024, and is part of the same canon as the Peter Jackson movies, having one of their co-writers, Philippa Boyens, as a consultant. Mirando Otto is also reprising her role as Éowyn. She'll be narrating the story, which is set almost 200 years before The Lord of the Rings.
Boyens, Peter Jackson, and Fran Walsh, the creative team behind New Line's previous Lord of the Rings movies, told Variety (opens in new tab) that Warner Bros. and Embracer "have kept us in the loop every step of the way" and that "We look forward to speaking with them further to hear their vision for the franchise moving forward."
Two decades after The Return of the King won 11 Oscar Awards, Middle-earth seems to be everywhere again. We've had Amazon's Rings of Power series, though sadly Amazon's planned MMO was canceled. Still, there are five Lord of the Rings videogames due in the next two years, including Return to Moria and Gollum. Magic: The Gathering's Lord of the Rings crossover set is due this year too, and will be the first of Magic's Universes Beyond sets to be brought over to its videogame version, Arena.
That's a whole lot of Lord of the Rings, and I can only imagine that movie tie-ins and other spin-offs are due to follow. After the third Hobbit movie I thought people would be done with Middle-earth movies for a few decades, but what do I know?
Personally, one of my favorite parts of The Lord of the Rings is the Mines of Moria, in which we see how the dwarves who returned to their ancestral home were punished, like their forebears, for delving too greedily and too deep. Just a thing that came to mind.