The Hunt for Gollum filmmakers explain why another Lord of the Rings movie is a good idea

Peter Jackson, Andy Serkis and others explain why they want to tell Gollum's story. Are we ready for another Lord of the Rings movie, or is Middle-earth getting too crowded?
19th Annual VES Awards Gala
19th Annual VES Awards Gala / VES 2021/GettyImages

The Lord of the Rings has been popular since author J.R.R. Tolkien first published the trilogy in the 1950s, but I'm hard-pressed to think of a time when there were more LOTR projects in the works than right now, and from so many different places. The Rings of Power, a Lord of the Rings TV show, set thousands of years before Frodo or Bilbo or any of those characters were born, returns to Amazon Prime Video for its second season this summer. Meanwhile, Warner Bros. Discovery is readying two Lord of the Rings movies: an animated film called The War of the Rohirrim and a live-action picture called The Hunt for Gollum, directed by and starring Andy Serkis, who played the ancient shrunken hobbit in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy from the 2000s...and then again in his Hobbit trilogy from the 2010s.

People have never stopped wanting to visit Middle-earth, but I worry that this glut of projects may make them rethink their priorities. Philippa Boyens, who helped write the earlier Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies as well as The Hunt for Gollum, has it handled. "I know there’s plenty of people out there who will be like, oh no, why are they doing this? Why are they going back in?" she told Deadline. "Well, that’s our job, to prove why we think that it’s a good idea.”

Jackson, who will produce the film but won't direct himself, touched on why Gollum specifically was a good character to revisit. “The Gollum/Sméagol character has always fascinated me because Gollum reflects the worst of human nature, whilst his Sméagol side is, arguably, quite sympathetic,” he said. “I think he connects with readers and film audiences alike, because there’s a little bit of both of them in all of us. We really want to explore his backstory and delve into those parts of his journey we didn’t have time to cover in the earlier films. It’s too soon to know who will cross his path, but suffice to say we will take our lead from Professor Tolkien.” 

As for Serkis himself, this is not his first directing gig. He worked as a second unit director on The Hobbit films, as well as directing movies like Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle and Venom: Let There Be Carnage. He's clearly very psyched to return to a world he's been associated with for so long. “Gollum has always stuck with me throughout all of these years,” he said. “I’ve read audio books of the trilogy and The Silmarillion and The Hobbit, so Tolkien’s world has never left me in all of that time since we did the first films. And the character particularly has remained such an enormous part of my life. So it’s absolutely thrilling to be able to go back and do a deep dive into his world again, and specifically into Gollum’s psychology. I know we’re all interested in investigating on a deeper level who that character is, and on top of that, to be able to direct and hopefully create a film which has its place within the canon, but also something that’s fresh and new and a different approach.”

Check out first-look images from The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim

There's no release date for The Hunt for Gollum as of yet, but we know that The War of the Rohirrim, directed by Kenji Kamiyama, is due out on December 13, 2024. This movie will be set over 200 years before the events of The Lord of the Rings and will tell the story of a war between the horse-lords of Rohan, led by Rohan's Helm Hammerhand (voiced by Brian Cox), and the people of Dunland, led by a warlord named Wulf. By the end of the film, the fortress of Helm's Deep — which you remember as the setting of a spectacular battle scene from The Two Towers — will be built.

Recently, Warner Bros. Discovery released some first-look images from the movie. Take a look:

Again, both of these movies are coming from the same studio. Then there's the TV show The Rings of Power, which is made for Amazon Prime Video. That's a whole different kettle of fish.

Are there too many Lord of the Rings movies and shows?

Everyone sounds excited to bite into these projects, but I still can't shake the feeling that the Lord of the Rings universe may be spreading itself a little thin.

Going back to Boyens, she has some thoughts on that. “There’s room enough for lots of people to exist within that space,” she said. “We’ve never wanted to be the gatekeepers of Middle-earth. Sometimes other people put you in that position, but we don’t feel that."

"Honestly, I haven’t seen any of [The Rings of Power]. I didn’t want to go watch because I genuinely didn’t want to be influenced. But I think it’s a fantastic era, as a choice. The making of the rings of power is a brilliant piece of storytelling. It’s a great era, full of fascinating characters."

Fair enough. Although I have to wonder: if a woman who's job it's been to keep tabs on all things Middle-earth for decades now won't make time for the new Lord of the Rings TV show, will the rest of us have trouble paying attention?

Next. At long last, watch the trailer for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power season 2. At long last, watch the trailer for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power season 2. dark

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h/t IndieWire