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UPDATE: The first film has been announced to be directed by Andy Serkis, who will also return as Gollum.  The film’s working title is “Hunt for Gollum” and the story is being crafted by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Phoebe Gittins, and Arty Papageorgiou.  In the books, the Hunt for Gollum describes Aragorn and Gandalf’s efforts to track down the miserable creature in the time between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

Sir Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens are returning to Middle-earth!  During Wednesday morning’s first quarter earnings call, Warner Brothers Discovery CEO David Zaslav announced that the Oscar-winning director, screenwriters, and producers are returning to produce the first of the new films set in Middle-earth.  The announcement comes 14 months after news broke that Warner Brothers had secured rights to make three further films set in the world of The Lord of the Rings.

Zaslav stated: “…the team is now in the early stages of script development for the first of the new Lord of the Rings movies, which we anticipate in 2026, and which will explore storylines yet to be told.”  After confirming the involvement of Jackson, Walsh, and Boyens, Zaslav confirmed that they would be involved “every step of the way.”  He went on to say in the call to investors: “The Lord of the Rings” is one of the most successful and revered franchises in history, and presents a significant opportunity for our theatrical business.”

Jackson’s incredible The Lord of the Rings trilogy won a total of 17 Academy Awards.  Combined with his later The Hobbit trilogy, the six Middle-earth films earned a total of 37 Oscar nominations and grossed over $6 Billion.

The reaction of the fandom will be interesting to see.  For this fan, I am experiencing what can only be described as pure, unbridled excitement.  With the return of Peter Jackson, it stands to reason that filming would take place in New Zealand and that the wizards of Wētā Workshop and Wētā FX would be involved.  Nearly as exciting as this initial news is to think about how much of the band could be brought back together for this new adventure in Middle-earth.  

Will we see the return of iconic Tolkien artists John Howe & Alan Lee?  (Or could Ted Nasmith be brought aboard this time around?)  Will Howard Shore return to score the new films?  Will there be new Art and Behind-the-Scenes books from Daniel Falconer?  A new music book from Doug Adams?

And, of course, there’s the million-dollar question – what stories will be adapted?  As Philippa and I discussed in my recent interview in New Zealand, there are some great stories found in Tolkien’s Appendices of The Lord of the Rings.  Could we see the Angmar Wars? The Kin-strife of Gondor? The War in the North?  While the full board is not quite set, it’s first piece has been placed with the return of the king.


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The Nerd of the Rings