New Lord of the Rings Movies Are in the Works—Here’s What We Know

The Lord of the Rings returneth!

Tolkien fans, rejoice!

A new deal to bring several more Lord of the Rings films to life has been officially greenlit, which means more epics based on the 1954 novels will be in the theaters sooner than later. Of course, Amazon recently released its series The Rings of Power, but they only acquired the television adaptation rights to the fantasy books. Warner Brothers has had the film adaptation rights since the ’90s, but recently brokered a deal with Swedish-based Embracer Group for a new round of films, which will be produced under its New Line umbrella. The deal gives Freemode, a division of Embracer, adaptive rights for books including the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

All of which means, some pretty major epics are about to get started, but whether they’ll be total remakes of the early-aughts films, or follow different storylines from the books isn’t clear yet. Read on for what we do know—and for what we can’t wait to find out!

How many times has Lord of The Rings been adapted?

Surprisingly, only three times for the screen, and the first two versions were not commercial successes. The first LotR film based on the books came out in 1978 and was a PG-rated animated feature. It was meant to be a two-part franchise, but it wasn’t popular enough to warrant a second one. The next adaptation was The Return of the King, a television special released in 1980, and that was also animated. It wasn’t until New Zealander Peter Jackson, who was hired by WB in 2000 to direct the three films in the trilogy (starring Elijah Woods and Orlando Bloom) that there was any commercial success to the endeavors. But what a success it was! The first trilogy raked in $3 billion worldwide, and the second trilogy, which came a decade later and was based on Tolkien’s Hobbit books, did the same crazy numbers.

There were plenty of other adaptations over the years, including stage productions and a 12-part audio series for BBC Radio in 1955 that JRR Tolkien apparently despised. In 1981, another 4-part radio series was released on BBC Radio that was a big success. In fact, actor Ian Holm, who voiced Frodo Baggins for that radio series, was later hired by Jackson to play Bilbo Baggins in his LotR movies.

What can we expect from the new Lord of the Rings movies?

New Line Cinema's "Lord Of The Rings" Gets 13 Oscar NominationsNew Line/Getty Images

The deal was only just announced on Feb. 23, so there isn’t a ton of info about plot points, casting, or even who the director will be. New Line’s newly installed studio leaders, Mike De Luca and Pam Abdy, mentioned that 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 … 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.” This might mean an exploration of the wider world of Middle Earth—though we still have to wait for more details!

Of course, Peter Jackson was the man behind the camera for the first three films in the LotR trilogy—The Fellowship of the Rings (2001), The Two Towers (2002), and Return of the King (2003)—which were filmed entirely in New Zealand. Woods played Frodo Baggins, Bloom was Legolas, and Ian McKellan took on the role of Gandalf. Considering it’s been two decades since those were released, the cast will undoubtedly be different, though it’s always possible some of the characters will either return to different roles or make cameos. (Hey, they can do anything with post-editing these days, including turn back the hands of time!)

Jackson also later helmed The Hobbit trilogy: An Unexpected Journey (2012), The Desolation of Smaug (2013) and The Battle of the Five Armies (2014), which starred Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, with McKellan reprising his role as Gandalf.

The burning question is, will Jackson return as director? The only project he’s directed since the Tolkien epics was The Beatles: Get Back, a three-part docuseries on the Fab Four that streamed on Disney+. In a statement to Variety, Jackson and his original LotR collaborators and producers Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyens said that the film studio had “kept them in the loop every step of the way,” regarding their adaptive rights deal. The trio added, “We look forward to speaking with them further to hear their vision for the franchise moving forward.”

This clearly means they’d love to be considered to direct the upcoming versions, but since no promises have been made to anyone yet, the journey back to Middle Earth is currently anyone’s game!


  • Variety: “New ‘Lord of the Rings’ Movies Set at Warner Bros.”

Gillian Telling
Gillian Telling is a New York–based entertainment journalist who, for the past 15 years, has covered the entire spectrum of pop culture as a writer and editor. She's interviewed hundreds of celebrities throughout her career, ranging from Alex Trebek to Jennifer Lawrence, and prides herself on being the first person to ever declare that Schitt's Creek was an amazing new show (five years before everyone else caught on!).