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Will there be more films set in Middle-earth?

bilbo_rivendell

This is such a common question at the moment, I think it deserves its own blog post. The short answer is no – or, at least, not any time soon.

The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings

The Battle of the Five Armies is not only the final instalment in The Hobbit trilogy, it will almost certainly be Peter Jackson’s last journey into Middle-earth. But this doesn’t mean that The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings will never be adapted into films again. It is likely that one day, another ambitious director will pick up the enormous task of turning Tolkien’s books into motion pictures. However, given the huge success of the initial Jackson trilogy, it seems unlikely that any director will do so in the near future.

At present the film rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are held by Warner Bros. They were initially bought by United Artists, who struck a deal with Tolkien’s publishers (Allen & Unwin) to purchase the rights to both books in 1969.

The Silmarillion

What about The Silmarillion? Is that not set in the Eldar days of Middle-earth? Yes, absolutely. But film rights to The Silmarillion have never been sold, and it remains unlikely that they ever will be.

Snippets of ‘Silmarillion’ material do, however, appear in The Lord of the Rings – mainly through songs and poems recited by characters, and the Appendices – and it is therefore possible that a film studio could push the limits of copyright by adapting these fragments.

It has been speculated that copyright protection on The Silmarillion will expire in 2043 and will then be free for anyone to adapt. Under UK law, copyright protection lasts for 70 years after the author dies (Tolkien died in 1973). However, if Christopher Tolkien is considered an author of the work (and there is no reason why he, as its editor, shouldn’t be) then copyright protection will last 70 years after his death. While the legality is therefore somewhat ambiguous, it is clear that The Silmarillion will not enter the public domain for a very long time.

As Peter Jackson suggests in his interview with the Daily Beast, it of course possible – though I’m more sceptical – that one day the Tolkien Estate will sell the film rights to other works by Tolkien including The Silmarillion:

But the truth of it is, they probably will one day [be made]. The Tolkien estate doesn’t want to release the films because it’s a decision that the current executors of the estate believe in. But at some point that may change, the executors may change, and those rights may suddenly surface.

When Tolkien sold the Hobbit and LOTR film rights to United Artists, The Silmarillion did not exist. That is, the book we know as The Silmarilllion was published after Tolkien’s death in 1977 following the painstaking work of his son, Christopher Tolkien, who brought together his father’s unfinished work to produce a single, coherent narrative. Tolkien had worked on his ‘Silmarillion’ cycle since the First World War, and over the course of his life it underwent significant change and transformation. The Silmarillion does not represent Tolkien’s final intention and – even though Christopher’s editorial influence was minimal – I don’t think it appropriate to further solidify this version of the legendarium by immortalising it on film. But that’s just my opinion!

 

But do not despair! As followers of the Tolkien Society Twitter account showed last month, this is #NotOneLastTime (have a look at the hundreds of “shelfies” everyone sent in!).  And check out our list of books by Tolkien to see just how many there are to occupy our time!

So for now it’s good night from me, and it’s good night from him! Cheers, Pete!

 

UPDATE: My colleague, Shaun Gunner, has since taken a slightly different view.

About the Author: Daniel Helen

Daniel is an Officer without Portfolio and Trustee of The Tolkien Society. Elected in 2014, he is mainly responsible for the Society’s digital operations, including this website.


  • Braag

    I can’t see the Silmarilian ever being done as a Movie, but I think it might be plausible to see it done in serial form as a collection of tales adapted for a TV series. (Like Game of Thrones but obviously a more fragmented collection).

    • bluenotebacker

      This would be amazing.

    • Andrew

      Yes! I thought the same thing when I read it! The whole history should be a tv series

    • Dazai

      no, because then it would look too cheap like game of thrones does

  • As things go in Hollywood it is rather clear we’ll be seeing films “set in Middle-earth” in less than five years time. The assumption they should have anything to do with the literary original is wrong – the first series to be filmed will be “Shadows of Mordor.”

    As there are at least two major feature films in the making on J. R. R. Tolkien (and, often as not, C. S. Lewis) we’ll be having more Middle-earth than we can bear.

    I sincerely hope I am wrong.

    • meIIow

      too bad, still nothing is announced.

  • Peter Rubinstein

    Would they be able to adapt other stories in the appendices, eg the rest of the 3rd age some of the 2nd age, based on the tale of years etc?

  • drklassen

    Stupid copyright laws. It should be 14 years. Period.

  • Being honest, after the disaster Jackson made with the Hobbit, I am more than happy he will not be enabled to put his hands on the Silmarillion.

    Besides what he did to the poor little hobbit shows clearly he would immediatly burn upon having touched the saint stones 🙂

    • Indisputable

      I am beginning to think this whole “Peter Jackson’s Hobbit films were a disaster” thing is merely a program that has been implanted in the minds of those who cannot think for themselves by means of media fueled mind control. Either that, or we are living in the midst of a simpleton epidemic.

      • Chris Wheeler

        I agree. I think The Hobbit films are great. I have read the book. I am very happy how the movies reflected the writing from J R R Tolkien.
        I believe that all the hatred towards the films was put out there to start controversy about the films which caught on quickly by others that can’t think for themselves. I doubt that most people that have negative thoughts about the films have even watched them.

        • People who dislike the Lord of the films are obviously so stuck on their own personal interpretation and purist fixation that they can’t see past the end of their proverbial noses. To bring these books to life in a film version was nothing short of ingenious. I am still amazed at how well they actually brought all of these threads together into a 3 hr movie. I had waited for this from when I was in high school in the late 70s and find the movies to be some of my all time favorite film epics. I never tire of watching them. Thank you Peter Jackson, and all the rest who made this happen!

          • Mads Holm-Jensen

            The problem is not the movies as a whole, it is the little things. What’s up with the love triangle?

      • L17

        LOTR-trilogy is brilliant from the first to the last minute. But the Hobbit-trilogy is almost as bad as GL’s Star Wars 1-3. There is nothing to like. Annoying dwarfs. Annoying CGI. And a bad story.

        • Garret Wood

          I disagree, it’s not great, but it’s not bad, it’s average. There was nothing average about Episode 1-2, Episode 3 was pretty good, but not good enough to make up for the first two episodes.

    • ferreira0665

      It has been revealed that at least with the last of the hobbit films the studio and Jackson had a number of disagreements. Studio wanted to focus on the love story. Jackson did not. As far as the extended versions go they have been better than the theatrical versions. Also I am also not liking that it has also been revealed that Jackson had planned for the extended version of Battle of the Five Armies to be 30 min longer but the studio cut ten minutes of that off without his permission. This to me, if i was Jackson, would drive me to not to want to return to Middle-Earth through WB due to their disagreements. I wouldn’t blame him either. I am actually disappointed to know of the ten minutes cut from the Jackson’s vision.

      Also to keep in mind WB is also the reason Tim Burton left Batman and why Schmacher was forced to give a lighter decent Batman film Batman Forever and then was told told that was even too dark so then we got Batman & Robin. Now while Schumacher takes full responsibility for that abomination, perhaps he shouldn’t. Nolan came in 8 years later and told the studio that he was gonna make batman his way and if they were gonna have an issue he was walking away then. They backed off. Then comes The Hobbit and they decide to want to emphasize a love story Jackson didn’t want to do. And this happened to be one of the major complaints of people that didn’t like the movies. So perhaps the blame of what was not liked in the movies should fall on the studio and not Jackson. For me I liked Tauriel. I think her purpose actually was to give Legolas a reason to potentially trust dwarves. They aren’t all bad. If she was willing to fight for one and potentially die for one then perhaps all dwarves aren’t the same.

      • Chris Wheeler

        Right on!!!! Thank you for sharing this. I was unaware of the main reason the film was cut short. These big film companies need to get a clue that maybe the writers, directors, etc are right, and leave the filming to them?
        When I first watched the extended versions of Lord of the Rings there were a lot of things that finally made sense. I think they should have released the films the way they were meant to be, and not cut short. 🙂
        I know that it is a money thing. I get so frustrated when I buy a Blu-ray of a film then 6 months later the Extended Version comes out.
        Anything for more money. :-/

        • Awesome Art Digital

          I think all the movies are out now with the extended cuts.

          • Chris Wheeler

            Good day,
            Thanks for the information. 🙂
            Yeah, I just bought the Extended 3d version of the Trilogy. I can’t wait to see what was left out.
            When I bought the Extended edition of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy the parts cut out
            Actually made the movie better. They should never have cut them out. I understand they they cut it to make the film flow better, but sometimes they should just let the director release the movie the way he wanted it to be. 🙂

        • ClikFire _

          I completely agree both the extended versions of LOTR and the Hobbit films were all far better.

    • Awesome Art Digital

      I would not call the Hobbit a disaster, OK there are things that were done but keep in mind in order to make that a feature film some things in book form just don’t work in movie form no matter how you film it. I have worked in the Industry for 18 years and I know first hand how hard it can be to adapt a book into a movie, that has to tell a story that you can follow and understand, a movie that has to be entertaining, sometimes things in a book, like LOTR and The Hobbit were written in a way were there was No order to them, example you can’t have 2 wars going on at the same time and express that on screen, it would be to long and to confusing going back and fourth. So unless you have any experience in creating a screenplay adapted from a book I’d strongly suggest you keep your opinions to yourself.

      • Chris Wheeler

        I concur.
        Thank you for sharing that. Maybe the people that talk down the films will get a clue on how difficu OK to it is to adapt certain from book to film.
        Ok…..maybe not. :-/

        • GAC

          Late to this discussion, but I think that with the Hobbit films, it was a case of taking a simple story and making it a lot more complex than it needed to be, so if it was difficult to adapt, that problem was on the filmmakers’ own hands.

  • Maeglin

    There is going to be a hiatus, true, in new Middle Earth material now that the Hobbit is over. But filmmakers, like the Jackson team, do have enough material to make other Middle Earth films, like the Rise of Angmar, or even the Fall of Numinor. And there is fanfiction for those who enjoy, like these scripts for Silmarillion movies:

    The Flight of the Noldor script:https://plus.google.com/101482934528046770715/posts/fDRcpuQmcFz
    The Beren and Luthien script:
    https://plus.google.com/101482934528046770715/posts/XFYiG1SLaGX

  • LOTR_Nerd_3791

    I would want a film made about The Adventures of Tom Bombadil.

  • Glen Morris

    i understand that the films are not entirely true to the novels but they are immensly enjoyable in their own right and have exposed millions of adults and children to this wonderful fantasy world. why not just say p jackson has done a great job with his adaptation but if you want the pure essence of tolkien then read the books. i for one look forward to another film as it is something that my wife kids and myself enjoy watching together and explodes in my kids imagination. stop spending so much energy hating and live and let live eh?

    • Richard Ambro jr

      I myself enjoy the films very much…..With reading a book everyone has there own imagination n tbts great…..however having real life visuals puts the story on a new level…. Middle Earth will never die in my eyes

  • Abigail Martin

    i think the simirellion should be made into a tv show 🙂 i think it would be really cool but i would be very disappointed if they ruined it by changing to many things from the book. We shouldn’t be changing Tolkiens work we should be using it the way it was written. He knew what he was doing when he wrote his books

    • Seb

      Better yet, a sitcom j/k =)

      Honestly though it would be great as a series HBO/Netflix/Showtime

    • cool dude

      a show would suck a bit
      we want good actors and a big budget thing you know
      not just a crappy CGI and some dudes talking
      we want the dragons of melkor to feel scarier than smaug
      we want trolls and balrogs to be intimidating
      that wont happen in a show

  • Deb Gma Blessedlife

    I would love to see another trilogy maybe of the elfens

    • Charlie boy101

      *elven

  • Uchiha “Azog” Ragki

    I believe there should be something new to this: The story should take place into the future, thousands of years later, where the line of the king of Gondor has almost died out. Then, in a matter of speaking, the last heir is known to the world. As this happens, Sauron somehow manages to revive himself and tries to purge the world yet with a new army of his own making.

    • cool dude

      if you read the books (witch you clearly didn’t)
      sauron and melkor (his master) go and forge an army an eye couldn’t comprehend
      in the last battle of middle earth after the third age

  • Austin Harper

    I myself would like to see a movie on the origins of gandalf and the other wizards. Or even when the dark lord sauron ruled middle earth with the rings. There is so much to tell and make movies of thanks to the books written by Tolkien.

  • Patrick Muscia

    There are plenty of options. The Silmarilian could certainly be adapted into a movie series and it would give plenty of history on the Elves and early middle earth. Another possibility is for Jackson ( or some other director ) to create a story ( not written by Tolkien ) covering the 60 year period between the end of the hobbit and before Lord of the Rings. Now would be the time to do it too, as there is a large fan base of the story and Jackson’s work. With the right cast, story line and production crew, anything is doable at this day and age.

  • Hugo. Åkerlund

    Ah why! the movies are in my opinion the best movies that have ever been made…. Peter Jackson if you are reading this then please do not give up have hope. and whoever has the film rights of what could be the next movie F**K YOU how dare you if you are related to J.R Tolkien then dont you think he would have wanted to spread his stories and let people enjoy his work why yes he would i didt know but i think he would have wanted Peter to make the other stories into movies and honestly when your keeping the rights to yourself then your just being selfish i mean come on you will still have his legacy so please cant you just spread some joy intead of being a selfish coward? or dont you have enough strenght to do that ? Have a good day everyone!

  • Z4RQUON .

    They’ve already referenced things regarding Middle Earth history, etc. that do not pertain to the stories of LOTR and The Hobbit, so they obviously have rights to the greater Middle-Earth universe just not the tale of The Silmarillion in particular. I’m not sure there is anything preventing the telling of original new stories in the context of Middle-Earth.

  • Giannis L

    Money talks …talken foundation earned almost peanuts from the first 6 films. When a studio indetify the right time for another trilogy , the very prequel of all movies, they will offer the right price and they will get the rights to render sirmarrilion into a movie . Money talks … Always …

  • VeliJormaSiika

    “The Men of Gondor gradually mingled with other groups, such as the Northmen. This led to the civil war called the Kin-strife, when Eldacar, a man of mixed descent and the rightful heir to the throne, was challenged by Castamir, who was of pure Dúnedain blood. Eldacar was forced into exile, and Castamir, called the Usurper,
    took the throne. After a decade Eldacar returned with allies from the
    North and defeated Castamir. However his sons and many of his followers
    managed to escape to Umbar.”

    Is that not a plot better than 90% of any fantasy hollywood production’s?
    I just wish the Tolkien estate would understand the value of giving this stuff to the right hands to be righteously adapted on to any media and basically keep Tolkien’s legacy growing and I’m not talking about just the monetary gain.

  • wolfyboy

    if hollywood CAN make a profit, they sure as the fact that you can’t stop progress WILL! i REALLY hope they make one, as it’s the one with the most gods and badassery! i mean… BALROGS FLYING ON DRAGONS, for Eru’s sake!! BUT! i RRRREEEAAAAAALLLLLLYYYYY hope they make it with as much love and respect that peter did! i hope they will read the book, and at least TRY to recreate it, and NOT do a transformers! i like almost EVERY movie i have seen. but the LAST transformers movie, even I didn’t LIKE! it was cool effects but that was about it. but i digress: hope to ERU that they make a silmarillion movie but if it’s not gonna be done GOOD, i would rather it be not done AT ALL! i would prefer PETER JACKSON to do it, but he has said TWICE (after he was done with the lotr AND after he was done with the hobbit) that he would NEVER undertake such a huge project again, so i’m not holding my breath, but i DO have hope!

    • cool dude

      Peter Jackson Is The Director Version Of Tolkein
      I Loved Lord Of The Rings And The Hobbit Books And Movies
      If A Silmarillion Movie Was To Be Made It Would Be Best To Be Made By Him Only
      No Director Understands The World Tolkein Made Like Him
      Imagine Lotr If Viggor (Aragorns Actor) Was Some One Else (They Were About To Hire Nicholas Cage For The Role)
      Or If Legolas And Gimli Were Acted By Other People
      Or If The Elves Didn’t Come To Helms Deep In The Movies
      Or If Bilbo In The Hobbit Was Some One Else
      Or If Saurons Armor Was Different (That’s Like Not Giving Darth Vader His Helmet And Robe)
      Or If Galadriel,Boromir And Theoden Were Other People
      Peter Jackson PERFECTED The Movies
      No One Would Make The Movies More Fitting To the Books
      If Its Not Him That Directs The Movies I Would Do It Myself If I Can

  • Judy Wethington

    Oh, I’ve been asking for another Middle Earth story. I love watching the story in the game, SHADOWS OF MORDOR. I’ve always said they should go back and show a story about how it all began. Well, they went back and did THE HOBBIT. Made a movie about that. Go back before when the Elves and the Dwarves were friendly toward each other. When Celebrimbor and Navi made the Doors of Durin. I’m crazy about the Elves. I need an Elf fix. Please someone come forward and take the challenge.

  • Rodney Coffey

    Why don’t they just go back to the 1st age…Show the development of soron who he is etc. Shadow of Mordor (the game) explains who soron is and where he came from but i would love to see something like that in movie form. I mean seeing the black gate or Minis Morgul as part of Gondor would definitely turn heads because it would sow how Mordor was formed. Interesting concept for me anyways.

    • cool dude

      There is literally thousands of stories and arcs that they can take

      (the first age arc) ,the awakening of the elves,the awakening of men,the awakening of dwarves,the city of gondolin,the men of edain,the creation of numenor,the capturing of sauron and the exile of melkor,the story of beren and luthien
      the creation of middle earth and the war of wrath,the building of utumno and the destruction of beleriand,the sons of finwe,the heist of the silmarills,fingolfin and his sons,the children of hurin,

      that’s just the first age’s arc and stories that could be made to a movie each

      (the kings of gondor arc) they could make a movie about eldacar or elendil or isildur and a lot of other kings or the war with the black numenoreans

      (the northmen arc) the forming of rohan,the wayne riders, beorings,the rhovanion trip from the north to south , the people of dale and the war against rhun
      I will be here for 2 months listing the rest of the stories and arcs that could be made to movies if I had the time

      • Biggie Packed

        You are so right. Silmarillion contains many stories that could be turned into movie:) It is impossible to explain even the main events that occurin’ during First Age in one movie or trilogy. Like some1 pointed out, best form could be to make it into mini series, but still. So many interesting events, characters, locations… i can’t imagine how enormous should be the budget for this kind of production;p

  • Dan

    I’m not an avid reader, so does that mean I shouldn’t be allowed to immerse myself in the in the fantastical world that the imaginative genius of J. R. R. Tolkien created. Would Tolkien himself come round and smash your TV in rage or stamp on your audiobook mp3 player because the format that you engage with his work in is different from the original one he created it in….. NO! A wonderful series of movies born from an epic collection of literature. I’ve never read the books and probably never would have even if the films hadn’t been made. At least now though J. R. R. Tolkien has the recognition from me, and millions more like me, that he deserves as the creator of an inspiring fictional story that he wouldn’t have had without the films. Read, watch, listen, who cares, just enjoy the stories and stop hating. I for one hope that more of his work is translated onto the big screen if its all as good as the two trilogies that already have.

    Rant over.

  • Benmaxcon

    Tales from Bree. Each week, Strider sits in the Common Room at the Prancing Pony telling tales of the adventures of a young man named Aragorn, who served in both Gondor and Rohan. This would make a great weekly television series and need not have specific material from any Tolkein books. We know Aragorn served both the king of Rohan and the steward if Gondor. Add in a few orcs, trolls, corsairs, and others. Voila! Instant hit series.

  • Gerald Cecil

    Harry Potter Treks to the Ring of the Star War Lords, coming to a theatre near you.

  • jason1000

    Why can’t Peter Jackson just do an offshoot movie set in the LOTR time frame about the Dwarves, Sauron, of the elves?

  • Oliver Olden

    The LotR and the Hobbit is a great movie..
    They should make another titled “Middle-Earth”. Another side of the LotR story.
    Watch The Hobbit online

  • tammy

    Reading the books is more adventurous but the movie is great.

    Watch The Hobbit online

  • Jude

    Why does it have to be about Middle Earth? It would be great to have a tale about the Blue Wizards. If it was a good plot, and they at least tried to create the magic of JRR Tolkien, I think it would be a great idea.

    Alternatively they could do a film about the Corsairs of Umbar, explaining their origin, or creating a story of some kind based around it. If the actual story had the approval of the LOTR fanbase and related associations then I think it would be really good, and also the market wouldn’t become completely saturated with Middle Earth.

  • Lion of Judah

    We need more LOTR films ! Peter Jackson needs to fight to make it possible but it can be like a Marvel just not as watered down.