FEATURE: Should Warner Brothers Consider Spin-Off ‘Middle-Earth’ Films?

Oct 24, 2017

The original Lord of the Rings trilogy is considered one of the greatest fantasy trilogies of all time. The films were not just massive box office success earning close to $3 billion dollars at the box office on just a $250 million dollar budget. The films collectively won seventeen awards out of thirty Oscar nominations. With the Return of the King tying the Titanic and Ben-Hur for the most Oscar wins at eleven. Also, being the only fantasy film to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards. The Hobbit trilogy while not universally loved like the originals did make around $3 billion dollars at the box office as well.

This franchise sprung up a fair amount of toys, books and video games. So why hasn’t Warner Brothers and New Line considered spin-off ‘Middle-Earth’ films? Now while yes the relationship between the studio and the rights holders of the Tolkien estate do have a strained relationship. A new deal between the two can’t be totally impossible?

Earlier this year a brand new expanded Silmarillion story was republished almost 100 years after the story was originally written. The story followed Beren and Luthien in the First Age of Middle-Earth. This book was finished by Tolkiens son Christopher for the release:

Beren, son of Barahir, cut a Silmaril from Morgoth’s crown as the bride-price for Lúthien, daughter of the elf-king Thingol and Melian the Maia. He was slain by Carcharoth, the wolf of Angband, but alone of mortal Men returned from the dead. He lived then with Lúthien on Tol Galen in Ossiriand, and fought the Dwarves at Sarn Athard. He was the great-grandfather of Elrond and Elros, and thus the ancestor of the Númenórean kings. After the fulfilment of the quest of the Silmaril and Beren’s death, Lúthien chose to become mortal and to share Beren’s fate

Of all the miniature stories within The Similarion, this would be the most obvious to adapt into a film. It takes place long before the War of the Ring and is very reminiscent of Aragorn and Arwen. But why stop there with another adaption for J.R.R Tolkien’s works?

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Earlier this month Shadow of War the sequel to 2014’s Game of the Year Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor was released. It is an original story set in the world of Middle-Earth. Takes an Ithilien Ranger Talion as his wife and child are murdered at the hands of Saurons Black Captains. After being cursed by the Captains Talion is resurrected as the Gravewalker with the wraith of a fallen Elf lord within him. Throughout the game, you learn that the Elven lord turned out to be Celebrimbor the blacksmith who originally made Sauron The One Ring…

The studio could consider the new way Hollywood develops franchises by gathering a “Writers Room” of Lord of the Rings screenwriters to develop ideas for potetinal spin-off features. Some could be adaptions of Tolkiens work while others could be original stories not directly tied to Peter Jackson’s films.

HBO did this with their fantasy epic Game of Thrones. A hyper-violent fantasy that took inspiration from Tolkiens work. While the series will be in its final season next year; four other original shows set in the world of Westeros is being developed by the company to keep the show going. This studio way of developing franchises was used for other major film franchises like Transformers and Universal’s Dark Universe.

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Fox has even taken to making some considerably great spin-off X-Men films only loosely connected to their main movies. Logan and Deadpool are great examples for director-driven films set within the X-Men universe not constrained by the typical comic book movie troupe. And with the studio’s next spin-off movies The New Mutants and Gambit, this types of X-Men spin-off films don’t look to be going anywhere.

Back in 2009, a group of indie filmmakers made their own spin-off Lord of the Rings which features Aragorn as he hunts for Gollum after the events of The Hobbit. It is considered one of the best Lord of the Rings “Fan Films” to have ever been created. If a group of low-budget filmmakers can make this then why can’t the studio? Balls in your court Warner Brothers.

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