The Lord Of The Rings Lawsuit Comes To An End In A Decidedly Unexciting Way

The Lord Of The Rings Lawsuit Comes To An End In A Decidedly Unexciting Way

Image: Warner Bros.

After years of fighting, with twists and turns and reams of legal writing to rival the books that caused them, the legal battle between Warner Bros. and estate of J.R.R. Tolkien has been settled.

The legal cases surrounding the Lord of the Rings movies is basically as never-ending as the ending of Return of the King. Back in 2007, Peter Jackson and New Line settled a lawsuit about the profits Jackson said he was owed.

This latest case started in 2012 and had on one side the estate of Tolkien and the publisher of the books, HarperCollins. On the other side was Warner Bros. and Saul Zaentz Co. The former claims the latter licensed the Lord of the Rings in a way the terms of the deal did not allow — basically they said they couldn’t put the characters in things as intangible as digital games and slot machines.

The latter claimed that the action of the others cost them millions in licensing they did have the legal right to.

As bad is it got, the two sides have come to a settlement that is reportedly “amicable.” Which is interesting only insofar as it might affect Warner Bros. ability to make more movies set in Middle-Earth. As it is, they only have the rights to The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, which Tolkien sold in the ’60s. And the rest of the books are in the hands of Christopher Tolkien, who has never had an interest in selling the rights. And this whole mess could not have helped.

So, the odds of a Silmarillion movie have increased from a “snowball’s chance in Hell” to “a snowman’s chance in Hell.”

[The Hollywood Reporter, Variety]


  • Damn I was looking forward to the 15 disc super special ultra HD bluray extended editon of The Silmarillion quadrilogy.

  • How dose this effect vid games? In particular, Shadow of War. Like, is this going to mean they might need to push it back and scrap some parts of the story? Or dose this only effect WBs movie plans?

  • There wouldn’t be much commercial sense in making a Silmarillion movie. At least most people have heard of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.

    • It could work with some liberal applications of crossover characters, i.e. give a young Gandalf a prominent role, make sure that it is understood that Luthien is a common ancestor for Elrond and Aragorn, make a point of showing the first known hobbits, show Sauron ascendance from his comparatively humble days as Morgoth’s second hand, etc.

      • The events you have listed took place over the course of several thousand years, and would result in a confused mess of a film. The Istari didn’t come to Middle Earth til the Third Age around 1000 TA, well after the events of the majority of the Silmarillion which predominantly covered from just before the Age of the Lamps up to the downfall of Numenor in the Second Age of the Sun. The Third Age is only briefly covered in about 20 pages, and there would be next to nothing to work from if Gandalf was to be given a prominent role, especially as in the beginning he was not a leading figure of the White Council but rather a shy and reluctant member who did not even want to come to Middle Earth as he felt too incapable for the task. Additionally, Sauron’s role as second hand to Melkor occurred during the First Age, with his rise to power coming during the Second Age, again leaving Gandalf out of the picture.

        TL;DR – Not a solid basis for a film.

        A better concept would be a solo film about the Lay of Leithien, perhaps told from the point of Elrond telling Aragorn about their mutual heritage, or perhaps a series of films regarding Quenta Silmarillion:
        1. the creation of the Silmarils, the destruction of the Two Trees, the first Kinslaying and exodus of the elves, and the First battle of Beleriand,
        2. the second and third Battles of Beleriand leading to the siege of Angband,
        3. the last 2 Battles of Beleriand and the closing of the Elven Kingdoms,
        4. The Children of Hurin, the Fall of Gondolin and the Lay of Leithien,
        5. The kinslayings of the Sons of Faenor, the journey of Earendil, the War of Wrath and the discovery of Numenor.

        Whilst it would require a little creative interpretation of the time-frames involved, broken up like this, it would allow for time jumps between the films so as to minimise the deviation from the original book whilst still ensuring drama and action in each movie, with each movie setting up the next. It would also set the series up for a second series on Akallebeth if the producers so desired.

        • That’s all good. I wasn’t really implying to use all those things in the same movie, just mentioning them as points of contact with the widely known lore/fan-favourites in diverse places depending what age any given movie is set. That said, you underestimate how much they could, for example, shine a brighter spotlight on Gandalf without deviating much from lore. Just look at what they did with Legolas in The Hobbit films.

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