This week, we learned Warner Bros, New Line Cinema, and the Embracer Group have inked a new deal to make more Lord of the Rings movies. Will they be sequels? Prequels exploring lesser-known corners of Tolkien’s mythos? Spinoff films following Gimli and Legolas? A biopic about Tom Bombadil?
We don’t know quite yet. Whatever they ultimately end up being, these films are still in the very early stages of development. It’s entirely possible that not even Warner Bros, New Line or the Embracer Group (the company which picked up the film rights to Lord of the Rings last year) knows what they’ll be about. But The Lord of the Rings is an enormous series with a global fanbase, so the one thing they probably are sure about is that the movies will make them lots of money.
But do need more Lord of the Rings movies? The biggest stories in Tolkien’s legendarium — The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit — have both already gotten big screen treatments. Amazon’s TV show The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is about the Second Age, which isn’t a bad idea even if the show is a bit rough around the edges. Warner Bros. is developing an animated film about the early days of Rohan called The War of the Rohirrim. These companies are milking The Lord of the Rings for all it’s worth, and at this point it feels like we’re starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel.
It’s unfortunate, because there are tons of other great books out there which would make excellent movies or shows and haven’t been driven into the ground by companies eternally seeking more content. Here are four stories we’d way rather see adapted than another rehash of The Lord of the Rings.
1. The First Law by Joe Abercrombie
A big part of the reason that this enormous fantasy and sci-fi gold rush is happening is because of the enormous success of Game of Thrones. Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings movies preceded that, but think of those two franchises as the twin fists that battered down the doors of Hollywood and made it clear to execs that there were an awful lot of fans out there who would show up if they adapted fantasy stories well.
I bring up Game of Thrones because of all the books I’ve ever read, nothing has come as close to the feel of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire as Joe Abercrombie’s The First Law. When barbarian warrior Logen Ninefingers tries to leave his bloody past behind and start over, he finds out that the wizard who’s contracted him about an epic quest has a murky past of his own. Throw in a snotty, loathsome noble and a crippled torturer with a hilarious sense of humor, and you’ve got an entertaining story.
At this point, Abercrombie’s universe is bigger than just The First Law trilogy, and we all know how much studios love cinematic universes. Beyond the original trilogy, there are three standalone books and a sequel series set decades later which features the descendants of some of the most iconic characters from the first story. A studio could get plenty of mileage out of The First Law.