Don’t count on any more Lord of the Rings films in the future
Tolkien’s Middle-earth has a sprawling history that extends far beyond the The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit properties, but don’t expect to see any more films in the near future. According to Peter Jackson, the rights to all other Tolkien works rest with the Tolkien Estate, and they are not fans of the films.
“It’s a legal thing. The Tolkien estate owns the writings of Professor Tolkien – The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings were sold by Professor Tolkien the late 60s … the film rights,” Jackson said at a recent press conference for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.
Earlier this week Ian McKellan threw a grenade into the Internet by suggesting that the final Hobbit film may not be the final Middle-earth film. He wasn’t actually suggesting that he knew of plans for any future movies, he was simply commenting that he thought the series was finished when the Return of the King was released, and yet there he was, years later still making movies as Gandalf. It was enough to get people talking though.
Tolkien completed work on The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but left The Silmarillion and other works unfinished at the time of his death. His son, Christopher Tolkien, helped to complete work The Silmarillion, as well as the recently released novels, The Children of Hurin and The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun, so there is still plenty of material to adapt. The problem is, the Tolkien Estate kind of hates Jackson and his movies.
When asked his opinion about the film versions of Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, Christopher Tolkien stated “They gutted the book, making an action film for 15 to 25-year-olds.”
The Tolkien Estate has also sued New Line Cinemas multiple times, first over unpaid royalties from the films, then again for its licensing of the property in video games. The first suit has been settled, but the second is still active.
“The chasm between the beauty and seriousness of the work, and what it has become, has overwhelmed me,” Christopher Tolkien said. “The commercialization has reduced the aesthetic and philosophical impact of the creation to nothing. There is only one solution for me: to turn my head away.”
According to the Tolkien Estate, while most estates are looking to make the most out of the properties they control, this one sees its role as protecting the works. That doesn’t mean another movie won’t ever happen, but if it does it probably won’t be through New Line or Jackson.
So for now this looks like it really is the end for the Middle-earth film series. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies hits theaters on December 17. If you want more though, Jackson will soon begin work on the extended edition The Battle of the Five Armies. When complete, all six extended films will run close to 24 hours.