Warner Bros. to Produce Several New ‘Lord of the Rings’ Films

CEO David Zaslav announced the deal during Warner Bros. Discovery’s quarterly earnings call

Cate Blanchett in "Lord of the Rings" (New Line Cinema)

Warner Bros. Discovery is developing a new series of “Lord of the Rings” films to be spearheaded by Warner Bros. film studio’s CEOs/co-chairs Michael De Luca and Pam Abdy, WBD CEO David Zaslav announced on Thursday during the studio’s quarterly earnings call.

The deal was made between Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, and Embracer Group, the current rights holders to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth novels. Embracer acquired the rights when it purchased Middle-earth Enterprises from The Saul Zaentz Company last year.

Embracer and Middle-erth Enterprises hold the rights for motion picture, stage, and video game adaptations of Tolkien’s most famous books, “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy and its prequel, “The Hobbit.”

The deal made between Embracer and Warner is separate from the one made in 2018 by Amazon with Tolkien’s estate, New Line and “LOTR” publisher HarperCollins to create the Amazon Prime Video series “Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,” which is based on the timeline set by Tolkien of Middle-earth’s Second Age, centuries before the events of the trilogy. That TV show deal is close-ended at five seasons.

While details of the plot for these new films were sparse, De Luca and Abdy hinted in a statement that the new films will go deeper into Middle-earth’s history, beyond what was shown in past feature films. These films will also join New Line’s currently developing anime Middle-earth film “The War of the Rohirrim,” which is currently set for release in theaters in 2024.

“Twenty years ago, New Line took an unprecedented leap of faith to realize the incredible stories, characters and world of ‘Lord of the Rings’ on the big screen. The result was a landmark series of films that have been embraced by generations of fans,” De Luca and Abdy said in a statement.

“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 on film. The opportunity to invite fans deeper into the cinematic world of Middle-earth is an honor, and we are excited to partner with Middle-earth Enterprises and Embracer on this adventure.”

Directed by Peter Jackson and released between 2001-03, “The Lord of the Rings” films grossed more than $2.9 billion at the global box office, with the last chapter in the trilogy, “The Return of the King,” winning a record-tying 11 Academy Awards including Best Picture.

A decade later, Jackson returned to direct a new trilogy based on “The Hobbit” which earned more than $2.8 billion from 2012-14. In total, Jackson’s six films have earned a $5.84 billion lifetime gross.