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In historic move, Christopher Tolkien resigns as director of Tolkien Estate

It turns out a “Lord of the Rings” TV series isn’t the biggest Tolkien news of the week or the month or the year.

Christopher Tolkien, son and literary heir of J.R.R. Tolkien, resigned from the Tolkien Estate. And his departure changes everything.

Christopher is 93 and just this year edited and published one of his father’s works “Beren and Luthien,” which as even casual Tolkienites know, refers to his parents with the names of those characters adorning their tombstones.

In the preface of the book he writes, “this is (preemptively) my last book in the long series of editions of my father’s writings.” It seems he was planning to retire already. Personally, learning the greatest Tolkien scholar, and a man who has honored his father in an exemplary way, has left the care of his father’s legacy to others feels like reading the end of LOTR where Galadriel, Elrond and the other great elves leave Middle-earth. There is a keen sadness, but admiration and beauty as well.

But even if you aren’t sentimental, he deserves any Tolkien fan’s deep respect. But it bears repeating, this changes everything.

The news reached me by friend Michael Martinez via Twitter on his blog. Martinez has an exceptional mind for Tolkien.

He understood perfectly that Christopher R. Tolkien’s departure signals the end of an era.

“With Christopher’s departure as an officer of the Tolkien Estate (which was incorporated in 2011), the long-awaited “rights frenzy” for Tolkien properties may soon begin,” he wrote.

Yes, and it seemingly has already happened. This is a definite piece of the puzzle of the recent news of the Amazon Video deal. I had heard through rock solid, but not reportable sources several years ago that other members of the estate were much more willing to negotiate J.R.R. Tolkien’s properties while Christopher was far more interested in preserving legacy than money.

The settlement between Warner Bros. and the Tolkien Estate settled an $80 million lawsuit July 3. Part of the statement the studio released at the time was unusually upbeat for an entity that just paid out big money:

“The parties are pleased that they have amicably resolved this matter and look forward to working together in the future.”

The future mentioned in that statement is this week and beyond, and it was obviously in the works then. According to a U.K. government website, Christopher resigned on Aug. 31. One would expect formal resignations of this nature take time to manage legally, so it also was in the works for some time I suspect. What I wouldn’t give to have been in the room for that passing of the torch.

So in quick fashion, after the seismic change, the estate has sold the television rights for book “The Lord of the Rings.” Warners paid the court dispute so there would be a relationship moving forward and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos rewarded both entities handsomely.

Another important thing to note here, and another piece of the puzzle, is that the television rights to “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings” were NOT sold when J.R.R. Tolkien sold the movie rights in 1969. Those rights were for motion pictures. TORn staffer and author Kristin Thompson informed our staff about this. She has first-hand documentation and as author of “The Frodo Franchise,” knows this stuff as well as anybody. And obviously you can and should buy her book on Amazon.com. I believe another TORn news article is expected on just this point.

This explains why the estate was so involved in the Amazon deal; they were selling something. It also explains why Middle-earth Enterprises was absent from the latest news. (Correction: This originally said Tolkien Enterprises, a name previously used that is not correct. The story has been updated.)

But the bigger ramifications of all this are far greater than a multi-season Amazon series. The new leadership of the estate seem much more willing to deal Tolkien properties than Christopher was and this confirms my well placed sources.

This opens up Tolkien and Middle-earth as possible franchises in the same way that Harry Potter’s world is a place you can visit at Universal Studios or that Disney will soon have a Star Wars area. There are few properties in the world that can be talked about in the same way as Middle-earth. Warner Bros. see the value and so does Amazon.

That doesn’t mean the Tolkien Estate will move toward making the rights to “Beren And Luthien” available but it does mean my wish to produce “The Silmarillion” as HBO series is slightly less impossible than it was before. That is what has changed really. Things once impossible are now possible.

The estate may elect to only allow more content based solely on “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings.” Or they may carefully cultivate the entire library.

Because of the depth of J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium, there is a virtually endless fountain of material. As Martinez points out in his blog, what will be produced is essentially fan fiction. As Disney has expanded the Galaxy far-far away, and HBO is planning its growth of George R.R. Martin’s Westeros world, so too could Amazon and Warner Bros expand Middle-earth.

Much of that possibility rests with the estate but just Appendix A in “The Lord of the Rings” offers a wealth of content. The imagination soars with possibilities.

This will no doubt anger many fans and delight many others, as the Amazon deal already has. Some don’t want to see the compromise of the author’s vision. Funny enough, this also seems to have a whole new batch of fans upset because they don’t want Amazon’s product to compromise Peter Jackson’s vision of Tolkien’s vision.

The officers of the Tolkien Estate still count among their numbers Tolkien’s youngest child Priscilla Tolkien and other grandchildren in the family.

This is over-long already but a final word on Christopher Tolkien’s departure. Here is a man who is a treasure, and who carries in his heart and mind the voice and essence of his father. The significance of his departure cannot be over stated.

I close with another poignant passage he wrote about his father in the preface of his final contribution to the Tolkien legacy, “Beren and Luthien.”

“In a letter to me on the subject of my mother, written in the year after her death, which was also the year before his own, he wrote of his overwhelming sense of bereavement, and of his wish to have Luthien inscribed beneath her name on the grave. He returned in that letter … to the origin of the tale of Beren and Luthien in a small woodland glade filled with hemlock flowers near Roos in Yorkshire, where she danced; and he said: ‘But the story has gone crooked, and I am left, and I cannot plead before the inexorable Mandos.’

Thank you Christopher Tolkien. We are going to miss you and your strength and determination to contribute to and preserve the legacy of your father.

Posted in Amazon TV series, Christopher Tolkien, Hobbit Movie, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, Studios, The Hobbit, Tolkien, Warner Bros.

Content of Amazon’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ series not so mysterious after all

You know that new “The Lord of the Rings,” series that was just announced by not only Amazon Video and Warner Bros. but the Tolkien Estate?
It has everyone on the interwebs with even a passing interest in Middle-earth speculating on the content, imagining how it will tie in to beloved LOTR characters like Bilbo, Frodo, Sam, Gandalf and Aragorn. It has even brought “The Silmarillion” to the forefront of the conversation, with people praying to Eru Iluvitar for an adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic, sweeping mythology.

However this series cannot be, and will not be, an adaptation of that work because the rights haven’t been sold. The Tolkien family has clearly decided not to do so. So sorry Silmarillioners — yet, some hope yet remains.

The information given to media, and covered widely from Entertainment Weekly to the Associated press to The Hollywood Reporter, uses “Lord of the Rings” seven times in six paragraphs, but then seemingly contradicts that usage with language that also comes directly from the press release.
Lets look:

“Amazon’s LOTR series will be set in Middle-earth and explore new storylines preceding Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring.”

So if we made a TV series about the Great Depression in the U.S. (1929 to 1939) but it takes place during World War I (1914 to 1918) is it really about the Great Depression?

“The Lord of the Rings” title’s frequent use is no accident. It is an intentional marketing strategy employed in the press release. PR writers and lawyers deliberately wrote “The Lord of the Rings TV series” as often as possible and hoped the media would echo it and, it worked. But is it true? How is something set before LOTR a LOTR series?

What didn’t make it into most media accounts, but that you can see at the end of the story, is the press release name drops that also mention Peter Jackson, New Line Cinema, the titles of the three movies and book, Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Sean Astin and Orlando Bloom and 17 Academy Awards — including Best Picture.

This will be said over and over between now and when the Amazon series goes live for the first time.

Check the quote again:

“… LOTR series will be set in Middle-earth and explore new storylines preceding Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring.”

There they go dropping another book title in the story and then clearly state the series explores NEW story lines that happen BEFORE the book begins. It really can’t be much clearer. The events in the series happen before the book(s) and the Peter Jackson films that adapted them.

More on Jackson later.

A little further down the story comes a quote from a representative of the Tolkien Estate and Trust, from a person almost no potential viewer has heard of but who speaks with the authority of Tolkien.

“Sharon and the team at Amazon Studios have exceptional ideas to bring to the screen previously unexplored stories based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s original writings,” Matt Galsor said.

We like that part: “based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s original writings.”

We all know Tolkien’s story has a page one where the story starts. We all know the story ends with THE GRAY HAVENS chapter and the sentence, “He drew a deep breath. “Well, I’m back,” he said.”

So how is this TV series actually a “Lord of the Rings” series that happens before the books begin but also isn’t “The Hobbit” but is based on the author’s original writings?

You may already know. We think of Tolkien selling the story of LOTR but he didn’t. He sold the LOTR as a book, not as a story.

Tolkien managed to get Harper Collins to publish the third part of his “The Lord of the Rings” book with a group of appendices, organized into sections A to F. When Tolkien famously sold the rights of his book(s) to United Artists in 1969, it was about what was between the covers — not the start and finish of the story — and that includes those sections on languages, writing and spelling, calendars and family trees.

But Appendix A and Appendix B aren’t just lists or dates. They offer out what the press release promises, “storylines preceding Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring … based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s original writings.”

So yes, the series will explore the past, perhaps the distant past, before the story of the War of the Ring and yet, it will still be based on the contents between the covers in “The Lord of the Rings.”

****** SPOILER WARNING ******

To save you from running to your copy of the books, here is a brief summary of the material that is legally available for production and is part of what Tolkien sold, the book “The Lord of the Rings” :

APPENDIX A – THE NUMENOREN KINGS

You “Silmarillion” supporters, sad because there is no chance of an adaptation of that book, can keep your candle burning. But it might only be a fools hope. The only content legally available is a recap of the Sil in LOTR. It doesn’t have everything but it has some big stuff. We get three jewels, their theft by Morgoth, his fortress called Thangorodrim, war against him from the baddest Elves, and Luthien Tinuviel and Beren getting a Silmaril from Morgoth’s Iron Crown and more, but all of this is just a smattering from the massive scale story of the Elves and Men.

Numenor and its line of kings that eventually lead to ruin and the scattering of the realms in exile, might work as a multi-season series. If you recall, Appenix A also has the kings of Arnor, Gondor the Dunedain — Aragorn’s people — and the Stewards of Gondor.

Oh and the tale of Aragorn and Arwen.

The history of Rohan is there, as is some of the events leading up to the Dwarves’ mission in “The Hobbit,” films, touched on by them in the three-film adaptation.

So Elves and Men with Dwarves available too if needed. And who can tell the story of the downfall of Men better than an immortal Elf? If I were Amazon, I would lock up Hugo Weaving to a multi-season contract ASAP. He could be the character that holds it all together.

APPENDIX B

Here we find a brief account of the battles in the north during the War of the Ring. It also mentions some wizards and how Gandalf received the Ring of Fire.

We also get some major events of the Second Age dealing with Numenor and the Rings of Power. This content was said to be gathered by none other than Merry, which could provide a narrator to hold the structure together. Is Dom busy?

Thinking this through, it seems probable that the new Amazon series will focus on the kingdom of men and its success and eventual failures, mostly from Appendix A.

Speaking of failures, Deadline reports that Amazon has failed to talk to Jackson and “has not tried to enlist the help of, or even reached out to Peter Jackson.”

PETER JACKSON

In the spirit of full disclosure, Jackson invited me to visit his set for “The Hobbit” films and report on what I saw. He also gave me a lot of access. Some would say that distorts on how I might offer thoughts about his work and his potential work on this project.

Thing is, I can’t fathom that Team Jackson wants to take the reins for the LOTR TV adaptation. I can’t comprehend that he wants to devote more years of his life by returning to Middle-earth. He was hesitant to return for “The Hobbit” and he suffered some backlash for it.

I don’t think he would take the job in either a director’s chair or in a producer’s role.

We can hope other parts of his machine are involved, such as the award-winning Weta Digital and the deeply respected Richard Taylor and his crew at Weta Workshop, but that completely depends on the talent Amazon Video gathers and what they choose to use.

Deadline says Amazon has not tried to enlist the help of, or even reached out to Jackson.

I suspect Amazon, Warner Bros. and the estate want to find somebody fresh.

Amazon Video Lord of the Rings TV series press release by LarryDCurtis on Scribd

Anyway, that is what Amazon is planning to do. And boss Jeff Bezos, one of the most wealthy geeks who ever lived, is willing to spend to make it happen. Join us as we dread and anticipate the latest adaptation of Tolkien’s works.

Posted in Fans, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, Uncategorized

Collecting The Precious – Weta Workshop’s Rivendell Guard’s Helm and Mini Epics

Last night our friends at Weta Workshop presented collectors with another goodie we can add to our collections. Fans now have the chance to add the Rivendell Guard’s Helm to the growing relaunched 1:4 helm line. Limited to 750 pieces worldwide, this helm isn’t going to last long; and as you can see by the picture, the paint/detail on this piece is really fantastic. Weta also announced one of their fun announcements from Comic-Con has arrived. That’s right! The Mini Epics are here, and the video below even gives you a look at the packaging for these awesome little figures. If you have a loved one who might be interested, these little vinyl figures would make for a pretty fantastic stocking stuffer.
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Posted in Collectibles, Collectibles, ComicCon, Conventions, Events, Hobbit Movie, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, Merchandise, Movie Fellowship of the Ring, Movie Return of the King, Movie The Two Towers, Shop, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Weta Collectibles, WETA Workshop

Amazon and Warner Bros in talks for new ‘Lord of the Rings’ adaptation

Fellowship of the RingCheck your calendars. This is not, I repeat NOT one of our famous (or infamous) TORn April fools jokes. Variety broke the story tonight that Warner Bros. is in talks with Amazon to develop a series based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings novels! According to Variety, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is personally involved in the negotiations, which are still in the very early stages.

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Posted in Fellowship of the Ring, Lord of the Rings, LotR Books, LotR Production, Return of the King, Studios, The Two Towers, Warner Bros.

Collecting The Precious – Weta Workshop King of the Dead, Farmer Maggot’s Farm, and Dwarven Helm Pre-Orders

Tonight our friends at Weta Workshop have a trio of new items that fans can add to their collections. These pre-orders cover multiple types of collectibles ranging from mini-statues to the very Hobbit Holes. The mini-statue is the King of the Dead as we saw him during The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. This one of course falls in the mini line of statues, but looking at the photos, it is packed with all kinds of details. Not only that, we get what appears to be a new clearish like resin used to create the ghostly look, that the King of the Dead had in the movies. The second item that fans can get is the first Hobbit Hole from The Lord of the Rings Trilogy in Farmer Maggot’s own house, which we got a brief look at early in the The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. The final item comes The Hobbit Trilogy and is one of the very cool designed Erebor Royal Guard Helm. This helm is a limited piece at only 750 pieces so you will want to make sure you snag it soon. The King of the Dead and the Hobbit hole are shipping now. While the Dwarven Helm is shipping early in 2018.

Posted in Collectibles, Collectibles, Hobbit Movie, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, Merchandise, Movie Fellowship of the Ring, Movie Return of the King, Shop, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Weta Collectibles, WETA Workshop

Collecting The Precious – Weta Workshop’s The Mouth of Sauron on Steed Review

During Comic-Con 2017 our friends at Weta Workshop released what very well may turn out to be a statue of the year contender. The Mouth of Sauron on Steed impressed fans with just how detailed the paint, and pose were, during Comic-Con and now that the production piece has shipped we’re blown away again. Everything about the production piece is superb and equal to the Prototype. After 14 years of waiting for this character to get a full 1:6 statue the wait was without a doubt worth it. You’ll see in the review just how much I love this thing. Limited to just 750 pieces and with a payment plan this is going to be disappearing at retail quite soon.
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Posted in Collectibles, Collectibles, ComicCon, Conventions, Events, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, Merchandise, Movie Return of the King, Shop, Weta Collectibles, WETA Workshop

Medieval Fantasy Convention in Germany: a report from TheHutt

Ringer TheHutt was recently at the 2017 Medieval Fantasy Convention in Germany. Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit actors Adam Brown, Sean Astin, Manu Bennett and David Wenham were among the many guests. Read on for TheHutt’s full report!

Medieval Fantasy Convention in Germany: a report from TheHutt

By TheHutt
Photos: Silv
Originally published at Henneth-Annun.ru

Readers following actors from The Hobbit on social networks might have noticed that some of them suddenly started posing with owls in front of picturesque medieval walls. No wonder: the atmosphere of the Castle Burg in the German town of Solingen is quite inviting for taking pictures.

Historical info: Castle Burg (“Schloss Burg”, literally meaning “Castle Castle”) was built in the 12th century by the Count von Berg. It was destroyed in the 14xx’s and then rebuilt in the 19th century. It is situated on a mountain over the river Wupper.

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Posted in Adam Brown, Conventions, David Wenham, Events, Manu Bennett, Sean Astin

Collecting The Precious – Weta Workshop’s Isildur Statue Pre-Order

Weta has been on one heck of a roll since SDCC 2017, and they keep things going this October with tonight’s surprise pre-order: yet another piece fans have been hoping would get made, and one that is near the top of this collectors list. Our friends at Weta Workshop have unleashed the stunning Isildur statue! Isildur looks amazing holding The One Ring, but that’s not the only wonderful bit about this statue – you also get the helm of the fallen Sauron at Isuldur’s feet. Limited to 750 pieces, Isildur comes in at $399. I wouldn’t wait very long to place your order, with the new payment plan system now available.

Posted in Collectibles, Collectibles, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, Merchandise, Movie Fellowship of the Ring, Movie Return of the King, Movie The Two Towers, Shop, Weta Collectibles, WETA Workshop

Collecting The Precious – Weta Workshop’s Grond Environment Review

Grond is one of the pieces on the list of never-been-made collectibles that our friends at Weta Workshop have now checked off for us. This amazing piece made its first appearance during NYCC a couple years ago, and was also at the last two San Diego Comic-Con’s. After years of waiting, fans were chomping at the bit to order Grond. Now after 15 years of waiting, we fans can have this in our respective collections, and Grond represents yet another home run by Weta Workshop. Limited to 500 pieces worldwide, and currently sitting at low stock, this isn’t gonna last long and as you can see by the pictures below and the review.
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Posted in Collectibles, Collectibles, ComicCon, Conventions, Events, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, Merchandise, Movie Return of the King, NYCC, Shop, Weta Collectibles, WETA Workshop

Collecting The Precious – Weta Workshop’s Fell Beast Bust Pre-Order

Some of the coolest creatures created during The Lord of the Rings Trilogy were the Fell Beasts. Too few collectibles of these awesome looking creatures have been available for fans to add to their collections. Now, our friends at Weta Workshop add a fantastic piece that captures some of the fabulous detail of these creatures. Sculpted by Jamie Beswarick, this large scale bust gives fans the chance to have their own Fell Beast all without the danger of being eaten. This bust also presents fans with multiple display options with a removable helm, as well as a base that allows you to display it traditionally or vertically on a wall. The Fell Beast comes in with a price $699 and is limited to only 750 pieces worldwide. Don’t forget that  Weta Workshop now offers payment plans, so you can expect the availability of this piece to not last very long.

Posted in Collectibles, Collectibles, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, Merchandise, Movie Fellowship of the Ring, Movie Return of the King, Movie The Two Towers, Shop, Weta Collectibles, WETA Workshop

Collecting The Precious – Weta Workshop’s Gondor King’s Guard and Uruk-hai Swordsman Helms

Helm Collectors rejoice! Our friends at Weta Workshop have two brand new items for you to add to your collection. The first helm covers the good guys, coming all the way from Gondor itself. This Gondor King’s Guard’s Helm captures the beauty of Gondor perfectly and is super-limited with only 750 copies world wide. The second helm makes its way to us all the way from pits beneath Orthanc and, like the King’s Guard Helm, perfectly captures the twisted evil nature of the Uruk-hai. The Uruk-hai Swordsman’s helm is also limited to 750 pieces, as well as coming in with a price tag of $79. Both helms are due to ship early next year but with edition sizes this low they won’t last that long so get your orders in now.

Posted in Collectibles, Collectibles, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, Merchandise, Movie Fellowship of the Ring, Movie Return of the King, Movie The Two Towers, Shop, Weta Collectibles, WETA Workshop

Fall/winter Tolkien/LOTR events: your ‘go-to’ list

Updated 11/3/17 – From time-to-time you, the fans, email TORn about events of interest to other fans of J.R.R. Tolkien and/or Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. As a service to our readers, we decided to created this new feature: a listing of upcoming events to keep everyone apprised of where they can hook-up and commiserate with other fans, learn a thing or two, or just plain enjoy the fandom that we’ve all come to know and love.  From Howard Shore concerts in Paris, to fan get-togethers in Kentucky and South Carolina, to exhibitions in Staffordshire, U.K., it’s all listed here! The list will be updated periodically as past events drop off and future events are added. If you know of an upcoming event, please let us know either in the comments section of this story, or by emailing spymaster@theonering.net. – TORn, ‘Together in Tolkien’

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Posted in Concerts, Conventions, Director news, Events, Exhibits, Film Screenings, Hobbit Movie, Howard Shore, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lectures & Education, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, Meet Ups, Movie Fellowship of the Ring, Movie Return of the King, Other Events, Peter Jackson, Stage Productions, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Tolkien, Tolkien Toast, Uncategorized