Fandom has lit up again with excitement as more Middle-earth movies, games, LEGO and merch are announced. Here’s what we know about who can do what and where with new LOTR projects.

New Line Cinema continues to be the cinematic home for Middle-earth

Feb 2023 – After a year of wild moves and intense backroom conversations about the future of Lord of the Rings, New Line Cinema renews its 25-year-old license with Middle-earth Enterprises (MEE) who are now owned by Embracer Group. From the fan perspective, nothing has changed: Warner Bros & New Line are still producing THE WAR OF THE ROHIRRIM starring Miranda Otto as Eowyn and Brian Cox as Helm Hammerhand.

New projects have not been hinted at, but fans are speculating if Peter Jackson will deliver his promised Super-duper-extended “Unicorn Edition” LOTR featuring deleted scenes like Eowyn’s wedding, Frodo-Gollum nightmare, and more. Peter Jackson is a newly minted multi-billionaire after selling Weta Digital’s toolsets to Unity, and winning Emmy Awards for his Beatles documentary GET BACK.

TORn Tuesday reported over seven years ago that PJ has a secret vault with a “warts and all” documentary, featuring original Aragorn footage. With his documentary awards for GET BACK and THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD, maybe the first new LOTR project ready to go is a doc?

Unconfirmed rumors for this new WB & LOTR movie deal have a three-year timeline in place — which would be similar to the time-restrictions put in place with Amazon’s TV deal where they had to be in development within two years and in production within five years. This puts the 25th anniversary of Peter Jackson’s LOTR into play as a way to celebrate the past and herald the future.

Prime Studios and New Line play nice, for now

During production of the billion-dollar-budget RINGS OF POWER series, a cooperation deal was put in place between Amazon and WB. All episodes of Season 1 of Amazon’s show include a full screen logo credit for New Line Cinema, with the characters and some weapons bearing a striking resemblance to the aesthetic established by Peter Jackson’s movies. There have also been rumors that Prime Video will be the streaming home of THE WAR OF THE ROHIRRIM after its global theatrical run (instead of WB owned HBOmax).

But, it seems the CEO of WB’s owner, David Zaslav, does have a competitive bone to pick with Amazon’s CEO, with The Hollywood Reporter reporting that he “even name-checked Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, almost as if to tease Amazon with the threat of new “Lord of the Rings” properties… and suggested that a move to launch new “Lord of the Rings” movies would take away some of the momentum that Amazon had enjoyed from its launch of a series based on the novels.”

Amazon is solely in the Middle-earth TV business

Jeff Bezos and his team at Prime Studios negotiated directly with the Tolkien Estate for rights the family still held outside of anything New Line, MEE or Embracer have exploited in the past: rights to TV shows. Amazon currently must stay in that lane, but can create as many TV shows as they want with a minimum of 8 episodes per season. Amazon has announced five seasons of The Rings of Power, greenlit the first three, written the first two, are filming Season 2 now in the UK. They intend to make spinoff shows.

Prime has has only licensed the same exact two books that Embracer & Warner Bros has (The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings), crafting any spinoff from any word or phrase from prologue to appendices. They have uniquely included current figurehead of the Tolkien estate, Simon Tolkien, in the development process, and he alone can approve usage of extra material from other books — such as The Silmarillion or The History of Middle-earth — on a case-by-case basis.

As secretive as Amazon is, word got out that they nearly went with a Young Aragorn show pitched by the Russo Brothers — fresh off their $2 billion Avengers Endgame run — which begs the question, why not both? Would Amazon greenlight another LOTR TV show now that more “friendly competition” from Warner Bros. is coming to cinemas?

Will there be a reboot of The LORD OF THE RINGS?

As of now, absolutely not. Nobody in control wants to reboot the most award-winning film of all time. The Tolkien Estate have mandated that the TV rights are not allowed to remake the movies. Despite WB’s record of reboots and multiverses — last count there are seven Batmans in the cinematic zeitgeist — there seems to be an effort to keep Middle-earth as one cinematic universe to rule them all. Even the new feature film spin off THE WAR OF THE ROHIRRIM is an expansion of the Peter Jackson MeCU. There are plenty of new stories to mine from the books, and no remakes are expected in film or TV format.

Is Peter Jackson returning?

Unknown as of today. Peter Jackson put out a statement though:

“Warner Brothers and Embracer have kept us in the loop every step of the way. We look forward to speaking with them further to hear their vision for the franchise moving forward.”

Peter Jackson

Philippa Boyens, his co-producer and co-writer of LOTR who shared in Oscar glory, is currently producing THE WAR OF THE ROHIRRIM with New Line Cinema. The new film is still “in the Jackson family” with Weta Workshop, John Howe, Alan Lee, and many other Hobbit veterans involved. Could all the local commotion re-ignite Peter’s passion for Middle-earth? Would he come back in a supervisory role, similar to how Kevin Feige produces and manages all of MARVEL films? Only time will tell.

Where can I stream everything LOTR?

Many places! Netflix, Amazon Prime and HBOmax all have the LOTR trilogy Extended Editions streaming free with your account, depending on your country in the world. THE RINGS OF POWER is exclusively streaming on Prime Video and not for sale on DVD. Lord of the Rings has a fresh coat of paint in a 4K Blu-ray release from WB, which is also the version you can buy on iTunes and other digital platforms. The Hobbit movies are streaming on HBOmax, as well as the 1977 Rankin Bass classic animated Hobbit. We like to use JustWatch to see where Desolation of Smaug is currently available on any given month.

Are there really five new LOTR video games coming out?

Yes! Embracer Group, in addition to owning the LOTR rights, is a huge video game developer with tons of studios. They have announced five new LOTR games for 2023, each unrelated to the others, including:

  • Gollum Game
  • Return to Moria
  • Heroes of Middle-earth
  • Untitled Weta Workshop game
  • ? unannounced ?

The Lord of the Rings has a long history of innovation in the video game space. LOTRO, the online MMO, is still going 15 years strong with new expansions and a larger player base than ever before. The console and PC Shadow of Mordor series introducing the Nemesis System and became one of the best of the PS4 generation games. Nearly all LOTR games are unrelated to any LOTR films — though some of us old nerds hold Return of the King fondly in memory.

Separately, Magic: The Gathering is now selling a brand new licensed LOTR card game.

Who is Embracer?

Embracer Group is the new owner of rights that JRR Tolkien himself sold off in 1968. The Swedish gaming and rights holding company purchased these rights in 2022 from Saul Zaentz Company, which was used to create the Oscar-winning LOTR films. These rights, which JRR Tolkien later regretted selling off, are perpetual rights to do anything with everything in The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings books. This includes all merch, board games, card games, movies, theme parks, toys, albums, weapons, alcohol, video games and more. Everything except make TV shows.

Because Embracer owns merchandising rights, Amazon has to go through them to make any merch for RINGS OF POWER just as all the movie merch for LOTR and The Hobbit included “licensed by Saul Zaentz” or Middle-earth Enterprises. Through Embracer, LEGO just announced a new 6,000 piece Rivendell set based on Peter Jackson’s movies that will no doubt sell out.

What’s this about theme parks?

At dawn, on the fifth day, look to Orlando.

TL;DR of LOTR rights

  • Warner Bros & New Line Cinema producing more movies.
  • Amazon & Prime Studios make and stream TV shows.
  • WB releases movies in theaters, then offers to Prime for post-release streaming.
  • Games, cards and mobile apps are licensed, developed & released by Embracer.
  • General consensus is everyone wants to play nice within an unbroken cinematic universe.

Want to talk about all things LOTR — movies, games, art, and ROP? Join the TORn Discord at

The debut of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power on Prime Video is in many ways a new age of Middle-earth adaptation. Set firmly in the Second Age, thousands of years before the events of the The Hobbit, this TV series sets out to explore the the age of settlements in Middle-earth when the civilizations of elves, men and dwarves were at their peak.

It’s an era many Tolkien fans never expected to see on screen, as J.R.R. Tolkien had only bullet-pointed the big things that end up relating to the events of the Fellowship. So how did a TV series based on the appendices, or notes at the end of The Return of the King, end up with a billion dollar budget?

Let’s look back:

November 13, 2017

In a surprise announcement nobody saw coming, Amazon and the Tolkien Estate announce a new alliance — the TV series rights to The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings books, and everything contained in them. The deal included tons of stipulations:

  • Only a TV series, no films or made-for-TV-movies
  • Five-season commitment
  • Multiple TV series are OK
  • Must be in production within two years (to avoid development issues like what happened with The Hobbit films)
  • Cannot retell what’s been told on screen
  • Tolkien Estate or family must be involved
  • Additional rights to characters and stories may be available on a case-by-case basis
  • $1 billion budget for Season 1 (including the rights purchase price)
Illustration by: Tim Peacock / THR

How does this differ from the rights Peter Jackson used to win all those Oscars? J.R.R. Tolkien had sold the film rights to United Artists (founded by Charlie Chaplin) back in 1968 to help his family cover any death & estate taxes that were to come upon his passing. Later he claimed it was his own naivety that these rights were sold in perpetuity — basically for all time. The film rights would never again revert back to the Tolkien family for total control, and Saul Zaentz bought those rights from UA in 1976, immediately making animated films from Rankin & Bass and Ralph Bakshi, then later working with Peter Jackson. Saul Zaentz died in 2014, his LOTR rights were sold to Embracer Group in 2022, and Amazon acquired United Artists/MGM in 2022.

The only thing not included in those forever rights were to a TV series “over 8 episodes long”, and the family realized TV production may actually be able to tell some stories at quality and scale. They requested pitches from all of Hollywood, and it was Jeff Bezos personally who shared his love for the books and offered an amount showing that passion: $250 million. It was perfect timing as the streaming wars were just heating up, and Amazon had just created a department called “Amazon Studios” which had been searching for a major franchise to use as the tentpole and foundation for their video experiment.

November 2017

Christopher Tolkien announces he is handing over management of Middle-earth to the next generation. His life-long focus on the expansion of Middle-earth was primarily through book form. With his oversight, the deal with Amazon was done, creating a canvas for the next generations of Tolkien family to make their mark on the Legendarium. Christopher Tolkien would pass on to greener shores three years later in January 2020, at the age of 95.

May 2018

After receiving Spy Reports, reports that Amazon’s massive TV series will be about YOUNG ARAGORN. The single-sourced news breaks the internet and trends above the royal baby’s birth, but is never confirmed by the studio. Four years later, ESQUIRE confirms the early rumors as one of many pitched to the studio.

July 2018

Dream job confirmed! Writers J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay announced as the showrunners for the Lord of the Rings TV series. While unknown to any fan, and with an empty IMDb credits page except for an unproduced Star Trek script, these guys were well known to Hollywood insiders as insanely talented script doctors (a job that never gets credited) and Tolkien uber-geeks. They couldn’t help but be compared to another big fantasy show with two unknown showrunners: Game of Thrones.

Patrick McKay (who no longer wears glasses in press photos) with writing partner J.D. Payne (who always has glasses)

March 2019

After nearly a year of of silence, innuendo and discourse, LOTR on Prime springs to life with a single tweet: Welcome to the Second Age. A map is revealed showing Númenor, a place fans never thought they would ever see.

July 2019

Who’s in charge of LOTR? Amazon drops a surprise creative team video introducing showrunners JD Payne and Patrick McKay, along with an all-star team of peak TV writers, legendary Tolkien artist John Howe, and Tolkien scholar Tom Shippey.

The inclusion of Tom Shippey allows fans to breathe a sigh of relief as a trusted name in Tolkien scholarship is on board to make sure the lore is managed fairly. Amazon later chooses to abandon this LOTR youtube channel and posts all future content on the broader Prime Video channel.

September 2019

Co-Showrunner Patrick McKay announces that LOTR on Prime will shoot in New Zealand.

We needed to find somewhere majestic, with pristine coasts, forests, and mountains, that also is a home to world-class sets, studios, and highly skilled and experienced craftspeople and other staff. And we’re happy that we are now able to officially confirm New Zealand as our home for our series.

Patrick McKay & JD Payne, Showrunners

Another sigh of relief from fans! New Zealand IS Middle-earth! Rumors started flying that Amazon really was “getting the band back together” with Weta Workshop, Weta FX and the Oscar-winning teams jumping on board. These rumors were never confirmed by the studio and the rumors persist three years later. In the end, Rings of Power involved 1,500 digital artists around the world with over a dozen VFX studios.

Other TORn Spy Reports start getting picked up by mainstream media as Deadline confirms Howard Shore involved with the new LOTR show. TORn-folk knew about this six months prior!

January 2020

Production begins in New Zealand as Amazon finally announces the cast of of what NZ locals called “Untitled Amazon Project.”

April 2020

COVID-19 takes the world by storm. Production is shut down as the entire island nation of New Zealand goes into lockdown. Nobody is allowed into the country.

Summer (or NZ Winter) 2020

Production resumes in NZ under new pandemic protocols, one of the first countries in the world to get back to work. Tons of movies & TV shows try to film in NZ but find that LOTR is so large it has hired nearly all the best entertainment people in the entire country. The country’s covid-zero policy limits who can fly into the country on a very selective basis with long hotel quarantines. This in effect leaves the LOTR creative team to film the show they want with minimal studio involvement (Amazon Studios are based in Los Angeles). It also limits what marketing can do, as there are no press set-visits due to lockdown. The entire show basically becomes a big dark secret and leaks are few and far between.

October 2020

Reports of nudity in Amazon’s LOTR show reach fever pitch. Based on casting descriptions for background extras “comfortable with sheer clothing” and the hiring of an “intimacy coordinator” the fan reaction was loud and swift. Clifford “Quickbeam” Broadway eloquently laid out the responsibility to the lore here on TORn.

January 2021

Show synopsis leaks to the as this site begins to receive bits of information from people excited about the work they are doing on the production.

April 2021

TORn reports that Tom Shippey is off the project, later confirmed by Dr. Corey Olsen (The Tolkien Professor), beginning a long and tense conversation between fans and studio. In the absence of official releases, incomplete information will continue to fill the air for the next year and a half.

In the weeks after we reported several other high-profile departures include lead designer Rick Heinrichs, the pause or possible disbanding of the writers room, and an unsubstantiated narrative began taking form of a troubled production playing loose with lore.

June 2021

The first big LEAK! Sourced from numerous spy reports over a few months, TORn reports on several details for the first time including:

  • Harfoots and who’s playing them (Lenny Henry!)
  • Celebrimbor recasting
  • Orc concentration camps
  • Elves have short hair

Whereas we had a constant trickle of information and leaks during Peter Jackson’s productions, this was an explosion of information on the secretive show — and a method of delivery that Amazon would employ for official releases going forward.

August 2021

Aug 2 – Untitled Amazon Project (UAP) wraps production in New Zealand with a massive party for the large crew & cast. NZ is still in lockdown with strict restrictions on travel into the country.

Aug 3 – First OFFICIAL image from the LOTR show is released featuring… the light of the Two Trees before the First Age! No context is provided of who the foreground character is or what we are looking at, only that it is a still from the opening of the first episode. Fans debated what is going on as this is clearly not the Second Age, not Numenor, not even in the Middle-earth map they had released earlier. Does Amazon have rights to this era? What story are they telling? Without any context, an all-star fan group spent hours analyzing every pixel.

Aug 12 – Amazon Studios in Los Angeles announce Season Two production is moving to the UK – allegedly to the surprise of all involved including actors, producers, vendors, workshops and even the NZ government who had offered a generous tax break on the basis of a production keeping kiwis employed for multiple seasons.

December 2021

An unmarked package arrives at TORn HQ — a wooden box with a copy of the complete LOTR saga — and leather bookmark at the first page of the Appendices. We confirm for the first time that Amazon’s rights begin and end within the pages of that one book — The Lord of the Rings (and any Second Age references they might glean from The Hobbit) — but every single word is up for expansion. For example , the two-sentence mention of Harfoots in Chapter One begat an entire storyline for a set of TV show characters.

January 2022

The title of the show, after nearly 5 years of mystery, is revealed to be The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

February 2022

Amazon reawakens with a new name — Prime Video — and launches a deluge of official releases

Feb 3 – 22 character posters given to 22 influencer and media outlets (without context of who the torsos belong to) keep fans guessing who and what we are looking at.

Feb 10 – Vanity Fair publishes a FIRST LOOK with photos from the production, interviews with the showrunners, and a complete overview of the billion dollar mysterious show. TORn chatted with the co-writer of the article for even more details.

Feb 13 – Super Bowl trailer. FINALLY some footage! We spent 6 hours analyzing the trailer!

Feb 15 – The infamous “Superfans” video

While TORn parterned with some of the best voices in fandom for an epic 6-hour trailer review livestream featuring Ph.Ds, tiktokers, studio and media execs, stan twitter and lore YouTubers, Prime forged in secret another Super Bowl trailer review. Flying out dozens of fans to the Spanish island Mallorca to an old castle ruins in the middle of the night, they showed them the trailer, then filmed an hour long discussion about the excitement of the trailer. But the final edit posted to YouTube was three minutes of cringe with very little discussion about Tolkien or Middle-earth, instead focused on inclusion and diversity. Participants in the video were shocked how it was edited. While nearly all fans agree that representation matters, the video was tone deaf for the time and place and target audience. Given the frustrations of a near-blackout of information for three years combined with a series of no-context releases, it was a stunningly bad effort that was quickly deleted. They do know that what matters to Tolkien fans is… Tolkien. Right?

Online discourse really heated up in the wake of this monster drop of releases. A lot of the old, tired voices of hate and bigotry — some of the same ones that took issue with Ian Mckellen playing Gandalf because he was gay — now started criticizing the idea of diverse cultures in Middle-earth. To be clear, Tolkien rarely describes skin color, and he made a conscious effort to write stories that everyone around the world could see themselves in. This would come to dominate social media chatter about the show for the next six months, but cooler minds knew better than to focus on it.

May 2022

Prime Video flies out Tolkien influencers from around the world to London for a preview of the show. The “London 30” represented nearly 10 million core followers from eight different countries, with over a dozen published books on Tolkien between them. This second effort at working with Tolkien fans went much better, with an intimate setting and controlled environment. Some got more enthusiastic about the show, but more importantly most everyone came away with confidence in the creative leadership — a vacuum that had existed since the Tom Shippey news a year earlier.

Empire Magazine reveals John Howe is one of the concept artists behind the show.

June 2022

E.W. reveals that Simon Tolkien is the lore expert guiding the writers room and decisions made with the direction of the storylines.

July 2022

The Rings of Power debuts a full proper trailer online while San Diego Comic-Con fans get an extended look at some extra footage, plus a giant Hall H panel with the showrunners and actors hosted by Stephen Colbert. Fandom seems united in positive impressions! They have a balrog! Prime Video also collaborated with for an SDCC party which the entire cast attended. It was the first time fans really got to see and know who is doing this next LOTR thing, and it was the first time many in the cast had interactions with the fandom. Everyone had a great time as the conversation turned very positive.

Photo credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

August 2022

Separate from Amazon and Tolkien Estate, the film rights to LOTR long-held by Saul Zaentz are sold to video game publisher Embracer Group for a rumored $2 billion. Everyone expected Amazon and Jeff Bezos to win the auction for the rights — after all, they had already spent $250 million just for TV rights, half a billion dollars producing one season, and $8 billion for MGM which included some Hobbit rights. Spinoff movies and games are going to happen no doubt, independent of the TV show.

The screenings of power! Prime begins previewing the first two episodes to fans around the world. LA, Mexico City, NYC, Mumbai and London all got big preview event screenings, which fans were invited to.

Then on August 31, Prime Video rented hundreds cinemas in eight countries for free screenings of the two-part pilot directed by J.A. Bayona.

September 2022

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power debuts on Prime Video streaming service at 9pm ET Thursday Sept 1, before settling into its weekly release of 11:59pm ET every Thursday night.

Since that first announcement in November 2017, this five-year journey to TV screens, full of rumors, leaks, fan events and a pandemic, has been an incredible experience for all involved — but especially the hard working cast and crew that have grown closer together through all the trials and tribulations. We can’t help but see many parallels to the Peter Jackson films, where that cast formed lifelong bonds of family and friendship. This new cast of LOTR really feels like a family as we journey into the next five seasons of this Middle-earth adaptation. Congrats to all for a well-reviewed start to the show!

Join episode discussions now and every week on the TORn discord at

Saul Zaentz Co., has filed two trademark applications covering a pair of phrases now associated with Amazon’s forthcoming TV series: “Rings of Power” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power”.

The company is the current owner of exclusive worldwide rights to motion picture, merchandising, stage and other rights in certain literary works of J.R.R. Tolkien including The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. It also announced in early February that it was putting all those rights up for sale.

The trademark applications, which were filed with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) on April 5 through German intellectual property specialists Boehmert & Boehmert, cover a wide array merchandising for goods and services under different categories.

The EUIPO filing on “The Rings of Power”.

Closer examination of the two filings, however, reveal that the key crossover between the two seems to cover electronic downloadable and online games and trading cards under Nice categories #9 and #41.

Whether that indicates that a Rings of Power-associated video game might be in the works as part of some partnership with Amazon remains to be seen. But, since the Saul Zaentz Company holds in perpetuity the trademarks on all the characters and places in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, it might have to be involved in merchandising deals.

The EUIPO filing on “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power”.

The news of the filing first emerged on the Reddit forum Leaks and Rumours.