The Future of Middle Earth Filmic Adventures in the Hands of Tolkien Estate

Peter Jackson
Photo: WENN

With the premier of The Hobbit: The Battle of the The Five Armies having just hit screens in London to rave reviews, it is really worth taking a little peek behind the green screen.

In what has become the world’s 4th biggest franchise movie and grossing over £3 billion worldwide, though Sir Ian McKellen hinted that there might be more Middle-Earth adventures, the final instalment is set to be the last Tolkien-based movie for quite sometime.

Peter Jackson has revealed during interviews that there are legal issues which ultimately block his return to Middle-Earth. The New Zealand born filmmaker said that as the Tolkien estate still controls the film rights to all of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien’s other works, they need their co-operation in order for more films to be made.

At a recent press conference for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Jackson stated, “It’s a legal thing. The Tolkien estate owns the writings of Professor Tolkien – The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings were sold by Professor Tolkien [in] the late ’60s… the film rights.” He went on to add, “But they are the only two works of his that have been sold. So without the cooperation of the Tolkien estate, there can’t be more films.”

Both the Estate and Tolkien’s son Christopher Tolkien have been highly critical of Jackson’s film productions. They have also accused New Line Cinema of refusing to deliver their profit share. Jackson, himself, has been accused of “evisceratingLord Of The Rings. Which I think is somewhat harsh. I thought for such an epic tale, he did a pretty good job over 12 hours of film.

This is not the first time the Estate has gone in to battle for various rights and so on over the late author’s works. In 2008, the issue was unpaid royalties from Peter Jackson’s original trilogy, in 2013 it was the problem in merchandising from the movies.

In 2011 the Estate sued American author Steve Hillard for his novel Mirkwood: A Novel About JRR Tolkien and demanded the destruction of all copies. As one commentator mentioned it was akin to the House of Windsor suing over The Kings Speech.

The new movie wraps up the The Hobbit book and hooks into the first of the Lord of the Rings films, Fellowship of the Rings, and leaves us, all in all, with six movies that sit alongside one another. They have been 14 years in the making and made huge stars of Richard Armitage, Luke Evans, and Benedict Cumberbatch while cementing Martin Freeman, Cate Blanchett and Hugo Weaving, and elevating even further Ian McKellen. Not to mention what it has done for New Zealand.

The Hobbit: Battle of The Five Armies is rolling out across the globe between now and December 26.

Jacie Anderson
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