It’s Friday 17 May 2024 – and a seismic shift in The Lord of the Rings adaptations has been felt around the world. Here’s all the news you may have missed:

Rings of Power S2 gets a trailer, a date, and a BTS video

Prime Video unveiled season 2 of The Rings of Power at their UPFRONTS, an advertising industry event designed to lure more advertisers to buying commercials during shows. Prime also updated the show’s social media handles from LOTRonPrime to @TheRingsOfPower and released a 3 minute Behind-the-scenes look at S2.

Season 2 of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power debuts Thursday August 29, 2024 with a 3-episode premiere, then settles into weekly episodes for the remaining 5 weeks.

LEGO Barad-Dur tower date and price

The 5,471 piece set is available June 1 for $459.99.

Andy Serkis to direct The Hunt for Gollum movie

The first movie in the new WB LOTR license is The Hunt for Gollum, directed by Andy Serkis, who also will play the character again. Produced by Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, with a screenplay by The War of the Rohirrim writers Phoebe Gittins and Arty Papageorgiou. Read more about how they landed on this particular story in the Legendarium.

In a technical slip up, the automated YouTube and WB copyright system temporarily took down the 15-year-old fan film The Hunt for Gollum, which was back up within hours and is still free to watch.

Rohirrim preview in June while scoring continues remotely

Exec Producer Jason Demarco announced a “big chunk of the film” will be screened at Annecy animation festival in June, and shared a new logo for the movie.

Composer Stephen Gallagher continues to post updates on the scoring of the new Anime LOTR movie coming this December.

Other LOTR news

Middle-earth Enterprises owner Embracer Freemode shared an in-depth interview with CEO Lee Guinchard, where he lays out the strategy going forward to build The Lord of the Rings into a premium, high quality brand that is collaborative and fan-first.

LOTR Executive Producer Mark Ordesky has teamed up with the Blair Witch creators to launch a new fantasy project: an omni-channel disc-world universe with a dice game on Kickstarter.

Black Milk Clothing has finally restocked its official LOTR apparel, including this Arwen dress.

Christopher Lee feature-length documentary, featuring a brand new interview with Peter Jackson, enters its final Blu-ray pre-order days with a Dracula inspired premium box set.

The Hunt for Gollum Producer Peter Jackson has opened up to Deadline on why this story, and this character, are right for this crucial moment to extend a Middle-earth resume that’s reaped $6 billion at the box office. It is a follow-up discussion to the Middle-earth shattering announcement of two new The Lord of the Rings movies from last week.

There’s so much to digest from Deadline’s extended conversation with Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens and Andy Serkis.

“The Gollum/Sméagol character has always fascinated me because Gollum reflects the worst of human nature, whilst his Sméagol side is, arguably, quite sympathetic. 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.”

Peter Jackson, via Deadline

The new feature film, The Hunt for Gollum (tentative title), seems to be a natural follow up from the writing and producing team behind The War of the Rohirrim. Newcomers Phoebe Gittins and Arty Papageorgiou wrote Rohirrim under the watchful guidance of Oscar winner (and Phoebe’s mother) Philippa Boyens, and the results have been impressive enough that they are already been engaged to work on this second Middle-earth film.

Peter Jackson and partner Fran Walsh are not officially involved in Rohirrim, but the activity around Weta from all their old collaborators may have been enough inspiration to get back into the game. Just as his original plan for The Hobbit was to hand off directing duties to someone else, Jackson has brought in Gollum himself Andy Serkis. “Their search for excellence never ends, and now I get to help reach that bar again. It was Philippa who first called me actually and said, look, this is what we’re thinking. And I was just flushed with a sort of, oh my God, I’m going back in there,” says Serkis.

Andy was already shooting his shot early last year, telling BroBible he was ready to come back on one condition: that Jackson is involved.

The Imaginarium production company, founded by Andy Serkis and Jonathan Cavendish, will help bring The Hunt for Gollum to life. They previously made Mowgli on Netflix and have three state-of-the-art motion capture studios in London, used on everything from Planet of the Apes movies to Napoleon. Andy is excited to film Gollum with complete mobility and freedom that the latest technology from Apes and Pirates movies now allow, and he is hyping up a more expressive full-body performance for this new iteration of the character.

Andy Serkis has kept busy directing feature films Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, Breathe, and Animal Farm. Fans who have watched PJ’s The Lord of the Rings Extended Edition Appendices will of course know Serkis was Second Unit Director on The Hobbit films. He has also received accolades playing Caesar in the recent Planet of the Apes movies, setting a new standard for digital character performance.

How does The Hunt for Gollum fit with the LOTR trilogy?

“We don’t want this film to be just the fourth film in the trilogy. This film has to work in its own way,” Jackson tells Deadline. “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? Well, that’s our job. Our job is going to have to be to prove why we think that it’s a good idea.”

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.”

Jackson confirms the films will shoot in and around New Zealand.

What characters will be in The Hunt for Gollum?

“We are just literally having very early state script discussions and ideas of exactly where and how we’re going to drop anchor with [Gollum] and his journey and how he is or comes into contact with other characters, and the characters that we know and don’t know. So still, I would hate to say anything that’s going to commit us at this point, because it’s literally all up for grabs.”

“We have the right to The Lord of the Rings and the appendices, and that’s it,” says Philippa Boyens. “Fans always get nervous that there’s only so much story that is in there. But look at War of the Rohirrim. It’s a page and a half at first glance in the books. But there are lots of threads in there throughout the book.”

But really, why Gollum?

“Gollum’s story is one of the most compelling to us in terms of a character that we couldn’t go as deeply into as we wanted to before, which sounds strange when you say that, given how familiar he is to everybody,” Boyens told Deadline. Gollum had 34 minutes of screen time in the LOTR trilogy, just above Legolas and Gimli who both have 31 minutes, plus he’s featured in The Hobbit in a big way. According to LOTRProject Gollum is the most-mentioned antagonist in both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings books. Only eight characters receive more mentions across all the books, and they are all the main heroes. Of course, the data may be skewed because he always coughs his name twice.

Read the whole interview with Andy, Peter, and Philippa at Deadline.

Headline Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic (Getty Images)

BREAKING NEWS: it seems that Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Andy Serkis are all going there and back again, as Warner Bros. today issued an astonishing press release:

WARNER BROS. PICTURES AND NEW LINE CINEMA ARE SET TO REUNITE WITH THE OSCAR WINNING LORD OF THE RINGS AND THE HOBBIT TEAM PETER JACKSON, FRAN WALSH, AND PHILIPPA BOYENS FOR TWO NEW FEATURE FILMS FROM J. R. R. TOLKIEN’S MIDDLE EARTH, TWO-DECADES AFTER THE NEARLY $6 BILLION DOLLAR FILM FRANCHISE WAS FIRST INTRODUCED TO AUDIENCES

THE FIRST FILM LORD OF THE RINGSTHE HUNT FOR GOLLUM (*WT) WILL BE DIRECTED BY AND STAR LORD OF THE RINGS ALUMNI ANDY SERKIS
JACKSON, WALSH, AND BOYENS WILL PRODUCE LORD OF THE RINGSTHE HUNT FOR GOLLUM (*WT)WITH WALSH AND BOYENS SET TO WRITE THE SCREENPLAY

Burbank, CA — May 9, 2024 – Warner Bros. Motion Picture Group’s Michael De Luca and Pam Abdy announced today the Oscar-winning team behind the nearly $6 billion blockbuster Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyensare reuniting to produce two new films from Tolkien’s Middle Earth for Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line Cinema.

The first of the two films Lord of the RingsThe Hunt for Gollum(*WT)will be directed by and star Andy Serkis (Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle), with Walsh and Boyens set to write the screenplay, along with Phoebe Gittins and Arty Papageorgiou (Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim). The film will be executive produced by Ken Kamins, with Serkis and The Imaginarium’s Jonathan Cavendish.

Said De Luca and Abdy, “For over two-decades, moviegoers have embraced the Lord of the Rings film trilogy because of the undeniable devotion Peter, Fran and Philippa have shown towards protecting the legacy of Tolkien’s works, and to ensure audiences could experience the incredible world he created in a way that honors his literary vision. We are honored they have agreed be our partners on these two new films. With Andy coming aboard to direct Lord of the RingsThe Hunt for Gollum(*WT), we continue an important commitment to excellence that is a true hallmark of how we all want to venture ahead and further contribute to the Lord of the Rings cinematic history.”

Said Jackson, Walsh and Boyens, “It is an honour and a privilege to travel back to Middle-earth with our good friend and collaborator, Andy Serkis, who has unfinished business with that Stinker – Gollum! As life long fans of Professor Tolkien’s vast mythology, we are proud to be working with Mike De Luca, Pam Abdy and the entire team at Warner Bros. on another epic adventure!”

Said Serkis, ““Yesssss, Precious. The time has come once more to venture into the unknown with my dear friends, the extraordinary and incomparable guardians of Middle Earth Peter, Fran and Philippa,” said Serkis.  “With Mike and Pam, and the Warner Bros team on the quest as well, alongside WETA and our film making family in New Zealand, it’s just all too delicious…”.   

The announcement of the new films follows the previously announced New Line Cinema and Warner Bros. Animation’s anime feature film Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim opening this Christmas. Directed by Award winning filmmaker Kenji Kamiyama (Blade Runner: Black Lotus and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex series), the film is produced by Boyens, Joseph Chou (Blade Runner: Black Lotus), and Jason DeMarco.

The writing team of Phoebe Gittins and Arty Papageorgiou penned the Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim screenplay based on a script from Jeffrey Addiss & Will Matthews. The Lord of the Rings returning creative team also includes Oscar winners Alan Lee and Richard Taylor, along with esteemed Tolkien illustrator John Howe.

If you’re a regular reader here at TORn, you know by now about composer and sound engineer Jordan Rannells’ immersive audio soundscape of music and ambient sounds, bringing to life Middle-earth. His soundscape is designed to be listened to whilst reading The Lord of the Rings – and in fact, is timed perfectly to fit with Andy Serkis’ recording of the books.

The Hobbit and The Silmarillion

Following the success of his Long-Expected Soundscape, Rannells is at it again! This time he’s tackling two more of Tolkien’s works, in epic scale. Read on below to find out what Rannells told us about his latest projects.

A new kind of Middle-earth experience for Hobbit Day

Jordan Rannells composed an original score, designed sound FX and recorded nature ambience to match all 60+ hours of Andy Serkis’ The Lord of the Rings audiobooks. Each moment is timed exactly so that when you hear Serkis describe Grond tearing through the gates of Minas Tirith, you hear it happening; when the eucatastrophe happens, we hear its theme; when the water of Wellinghall rains down around us, we hear it come and go. It is so simple to put the Soundscape together with the audiobooks, but you can also listen without them and just escape to Middle-earth any time you need to. Listen to the wind in the grass on your way to Edoras; hear the turmoil in the score as Boromir confronts Frodo; duck as the wings of the fell beast fly over you.

Rannells uses Dolby Atmos to achieve the highest level of 3D immersion possible, using the latest technology and sound design tools used in big franchises like Marvel, Game of Thrones and more.

Now, after spending a year and a half designing his first soundscape experience, An Unexpected Soundscape and A Soundscape of Eä are on the way. The Hobbit and The Silmarillion are next on Rannells’ journey, as he seeks to complete the Legendarium in this new immersive adaptation.

Listeners will be able to hear the dwarves as their barrels crash by; catch whispers of Gollum and the spiders of Mirkwood; witness the Coming of Tuor to Ulmo, and even the creation of Arda itself. New challenges present themselves in bringing the up-close-and-personal world of The Hobbit to your ears, such as recording movement and footsteps for each of the dwarves. Then, in the opposite direction, large scale and epic abstract sound design are required for moments in The Silmarillion.

Jordan Rannells
Find out more about Rannells’ epic undertaking on his website. You can also experience the first chapter of the Long-Expected Soundscape on his YouTube channel. Celebrate those Baggins’ birthdays surrounded by the sounds of Middle-earth!

DragonCon begins today – and of course TORn will be there! You’ll find staffers deej and greendragon at TORn’s ‘fan table’, in our usual location: in the Hyatt opposite the entrance to the Art Show. We’ll be there from Friday on, until the very end of the con! This year we have three new shirt designs and a new button, as well as some former designs, and other fun goodies at the table. Drop by and see us!

There are some exciting celebrity guests for Middle-earth lovers this weekend; read on for highlights of events of interest to Tolkien fans during DragonCon this year:

Friday 1st 10am The Wit and Wisdom of Samwise Gamgee

Gardener; friend; husband; potato enthusiast. We all need more Sam in our lives! Marriott room L401-403

Friday 2nd 8.30pm An Evening at Bree

As ever, TORn will be joining the High Fantasy track to host this long standing DragonCon tradition. Party like a Hobbit! Once again, our live acts will be fan favourites The Brobdingnagian Bards, Beth Patterson, and Landloch’d. We’ll also have the Elf Choir, and the costume contest – with a fabulous panel of expert cosplay judges. We’re thrilled that Charles Conley, Joshua Duart and Lacey Santos will be lending us their skill and judgement for the evening! If you’d like to enter the contest, please remember to sign up in advance of the evening, at the TORn fan table or the High Fantasy track room (Marriott room L401-403).

Find us at the inn of the Prancing Pony (aka Hilton Grand West)

Saturday 2nd 1pm The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Retrospective

It’s been 20 years (gasp!) since the final part of Peter Jackson’s trilogy was released. Join TORn staffers to look back and get nostalgic together! Marriott room A601-602

Saturday 2nd 4pm Rings of Power discussion

A look back at Season 1, and speculation as to what may be coming in Season 2 of Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings show. Marriott room A601-602

Saturday 2nd 5.30pm Elijah Wood and Sean Astin in conversation

Marriott Atrium Ballroom

Saturday 2nd 10pm The Tolkien Renaissance

What makes Middle-earth such an enduring favourite with fans? With more shows, movies (and maybe even a theme park) in the works, we’ll explore why Tolkien’s works are evergreen. Marriott room L401-403

Sunday 3rd 10am Hobbits, Harfoots, and More!

Exploring the origins, characteristics, and significance of our favourite hairy-footed folks. Marriott room L401-403

Sunday 3rd 1pm Andy Serkis and Elijah Wood in conversation

Marriott Atrium Ballroom

(There are also photo sessions with Astin, Serkis, and Wood throughout the weekend. Their appearances are fully in line with SAG-AFTRA guidelines, enabling actors to attend conventions but not to promote work.)

Sunday 5pm Hobbit Drinking Songs!

Join The Brobdingnagian Bards and party like a Hobbit! Hilton Grand West

Sunday 10pm Dance Magic Dance

TORn’s own deej shows us how she got her name, as she djs this 1980s themed dance party. Put on your best 80s/fantasy cosplay and come and dance the night away!

There are many more High Fantasy Track events which are Middle-earth related, and other events across the con which will appeal to Tolkien fans. Check out DragonCon’s app for all the details. Hope to see you here for all the fun – come and say hi!

Back in 2022 we told you about composer and sound engineer Jordan Rannells’ amazing project – to create ‘an immersive audio soundscape‘ of music and ambient sounds, to be listened to whilst reading The Lord of the Rings.

For Tolkien Reading Day (March 25th) this year, Rannells teamed with the folks from ArdaCraft to create a live stream event, where parts of The Fellowship of the Ring were read over the corresponding chapters of Rannell’s A Long-Expected Soundscape.

The Towers Collection

Now, The Towers Collection (for The Two Towers) is available – and we have some promo codes for TORn’s followers! Read on below to find out more…

The Long-expected Soundscape is designed to be listened to whilst reading Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings (and is timed specifically to sync up with the Andy Serkis audiobook recording). It is created with Dolby Atmos for full 3D immersion in headphones, and includes an original score, ambient nature and environment sounds, and designed and recorded sound effects. The soundtrack is downloadable at https://jordanrannells.com/ – and can also be accessed very easily through all usual podcast apps.

Ways to listen

Rannells suggests various ways to enjoy his creation:

1. Simply experience the atmosphere alone, without the books

2. While reading Tolkien’s works (yes you might read a bit faster, but all you have to do is wait and enjoy the music and sound effects for a bit until you hear the next significant sound or cue, and then keep reading)

3. Synced up (perfectly!) with Andy Serkis’ audiobook so you can enjoy them together (step by step process on how to do that on Discord)

4. Just as background for DnD, Lotro and so on…

Exclusive promo codes

If you’d like to get your hands on this wonderful soundscape, you can use the code TORN25 (for a discount on the whole collection), or TORN10 (for a discount on an individual book). These promo codes are good only until June 10th, so don’t delay!

Once you’ve experienced this beautiful aural world, you’re definitely going to want more! So you’ll be glad to know that Rannells has plans for The Hobbit and The Silmarillion soundscapes! He’ll be launching a Kickstarter for these, this coming December; if you’re interested in getting involved, and perhaps even having a small voice or performance role on one of those projects, join the Long-expected Discord. Happy listening!