VentureBeat sat down with the head of Freemode Embracer, which in 2022 bought the swag of Middle-earth rights long-held by Saul Zaentz, in a wide-ranging conversation about the past, present and future of The Lord of the Rings. In recent weeks, it was announced that Embracer would be split into three companies with one of them temporarily called “Middle-earth Enterprises and Friends” — a nod to the importance of LOTR to this publicly traded standalone company.

Lee Guinchard is wide-eyed and excited about the future of Rings. In the interview he explains the combative legal history of Rings and The Hobbit, where nearly everyone was suing everyone else. But now that bad blood is settled and there is a business effort to allow everyone to play nice, collaborate and create adaptations of Tolkien that are premium.

Also, fans get a couple shout-outs! We here at TheOneRing.net are excited to be included in any discussions that bring the fan perspective to the table.

During the past 18 months or so, Guinchard started quietly talking to the different parties that matter for The Lord of the Rings franchise, including Peter Jackson’s team, the Tolkien Estate, Warner Bros./New Line and Tolkien fans themselves at places such as The One Ring. Guinchard felt a need to build bridges — as many of the parties fell out with each other at different times in the past — and do his own homework about the market.

He was always a Tolkien fan, but he dug deeper into it than ever before, looking at things Tolkien himself said. And he was not coming at it from the approach of a conglomerate.

“Part of the due diligence was understanding what the map was,” Guinchard said. “Once you get under the hood, the actual rights are easy to understand. I started thinking. Oh God. This opportunity is way bigger than people realize. But it’s not an instant opportunity. You’ve got to look at this for a long time. Look at who the players are. And what can we do, as stewards of it? I had to get my head around what people are playing in and around our sphere.”

– Excerpt from GamesBeat

Its a long and worthwhile read to get a sense of where adaptations of The Lord of the Rings could be headed. Read it at Venturebeat.

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)

Prime Video released the first trailer for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power second season. And TORn staff have thoughts! Take a look at the trailer, and read our reactions below…

greendragon says:

0.08 – is Durin talking about Sauron, or could he be referencing the Balrog?

0.11 and 0.26 – seems Sauron can take on all kinds of forms; worms, butterflies, even a very pretty Elf…

0.20 – do Elves ever draw a weapon without a flourish?!

0.38 – Celebrimbor and Sauron – the two great forgers of rings, going toe to toe?

0.46 – cool to see Sauron in his Annatar form

0.54 – is this the sea monster we encountered in S1? Who is in the water?

0.58 – what is causing destruction in Khazad-dum? Surely it’s not the Balrog already?

0.59 – Yay Elendil! One of my favourite characters from S1. Lloyd Owen does a fantastic job.

1.07 – dwarven rings! So are these the rings we will see forged in S2, having seen the Elven rings in S1?

1.12 – the eagles are coming! Also, Trystan Gravelle (Pharazon) is SO good.

1.16 – pretty good job for Adar continuity, given that it’s no longer Joseph Mawle in the role, but is now Sam Hazeldine. And what is he flanked by here? The creature on his right looks very skeletal; a Barrow-wight, perchance…?

Overall – lots to think about, and it’s pretty compelling. I’m excited for August 29th!!

Look closely, there are Numenoreans halfway down that cliff

Garfeimao says: 

The final scene from Season 1 of Sauron arriving in Mordor opens the trailer, showing that not a moment has passed between the two seasons. 

Durn IV is first narrator, speaking of the return of an Ancient Evil

The Black Mass that is moving on the ground looks like a pile of deadly worms or vipers and emanates evil

Whose hands have blood on the palms, is this one of the Mystics using blood magic?

Tree roots reaching for someone (Celebrimbor maybe) in the dark before we see a bunch of orcs marching through the woods with torches

A portal opens in Celebrimbor’s chambers, is someone walking through?

Galadriel’s narration says “he’s been among us all along”

Sauron as an Elf in a black-feathered outfit walking calmly as other elves are running

A black-haired woman in the water and a sea monster, could she be a version of Sauron, a human sacrifice, or a nightmare? 

A cataclysm in Khazad-dum with parts of the stone ceiling crashing on one of the bridges in the city. 

Elendil struggles through a mob of people

Gil-Galad, Galadriel and Cirdan

The Three Elven rings on the hands of Gil-Galad, Galadriel and is the third Cirdan? 

Durin III with a Ring (oh crap)

Arondir, doing the awesome Elf acrobats, shows up to help Isildur

A Giant Eagle lands behind Pharazon, who then unsheaths his sword, this doesn’t bode well

Theo is crying, gotta wonder what has happened to make that happen

A cascade of fire bombs heading toward a city (Eregion?)

The Stranger is standing by a well in the middle of the desert and pounds his staff on the ground for power and a windstorm

Someone is holding onto a rope trying not to fly away in strong winds full of dust (are these two scenes connected or just red herring editing?)

A bloodied elf dropping a handful of rings into a fire, is it Celebrimbor injured? Is it a version of Sauron? Is it just a random elf? Are they trying to destroy those rings, or will they land next to the fire and not in the fire? 

WeeTanya says:

My initial reaction:

Thematically, it’s picking up exactly where it left off. Sauron is overlooking his realm. The Harfeet are still a-wandering, the mystical cults from the East are still mystically culting, and a lot of this feels the same. But there’s also a time shift — Durin recognizes that the Balrogs have awakened, and Galadriel and Action Elrond are in a sickly green forest fighting some unseen foe, Numenor seems to be on the way to falling, and the rings are very definitely being forged. I wonder if this backtracks a bit into season 1 to pick up some of Celebrimbor’s story with Halbarad — we hear Celebrimbor saying, “He worms his way inside your mind, and the rest of him slithers in.” 


But then there’s blond, long-haired Sauron who has been “there all along” with…Celebrimbor? Creating the rings? I mean, canonically he does this, and Galadriel is suddenly confused by it — does this mean Sauron has been playing several roles throughout Season 1, but we just never saw him in his fair Elven form? Also, at one point Elf-Sauron flexes his arms and something goes “boom” — does he reveal that he’s been turning Ost-in-Edhil into his own evil fortress all along, or does darkness descend all at once?


I think we see the start of the fall of Moria, which is confusing — shouldn’t this be much later in the 3rd age? Will the dwarves begin to disperse, will we see their exodus? Anyway the dwarven king accepts his dwarven ring. Will TROP go with the thread that this ring poisons the dwarves and makes them blind to the evil in the depths of Moria, and a lot of them stay? I am very curious about this plotline.


Numenor is Numenoring! Why does Ar-Pharazon have a pet eagle? Shouldn’t he want absolutely nothing to do with eagles, as emissaries of the Valar?

Elessar says:

I love that we’re seeing from the jump in this trailer that Sauron’s power is being built in a way that really will emphasize his threat. Hopefully that’s not a trick of the trailer. I also love that we’re going to see Annatar as well and that it’s the same actor from last season. Does Celebrimbor survive season 2? 

I’m also excited to see more of what the some love show to the Númenóreans in this. I cannot wait to see all that goes with these folks. Working towards the formation of Gondor is something I’m very much looking forward to. I’m also excited see more of the Dwarves. Was that the fall of Moria? Am I getting more Balrog? (Please 🙂 )

All in all I’m looking forward to things. 

Kili and Bard say:

My sister was out of town so I filmed a reaction video with my boyfriend Rónán! 

Rings of Power S2 Teaser Trailer Reaction https://youtu.be/lHfH0jNDuAk

Justin says:

Prime Video has released ANOTHER 3 minutes video BTS, which seems equally as thrilling.

The Lord of The Rings: The Rings of Power – A Look Inside Season 2 | Prime Video

And you can see the full trailer breakdown on TORn Tuesday from last night for more analysis!

Edited to add reaction to the Behind-the-Scenes video

Garfeimao – Season 2 BTS video: 

Morffyd says that Galadriel feels more connected to the peoples of Middle-earth and that it will drive her even more

Gil-Galad looking very somber

Sauron is out in the open, making everything happen

The new Adar is less deathly looking, but then, that might just be the fact it was BTS cameras and not FX treated film showing him. 

Durin IV is adrift, his relationship with his dad is gone and his pride has taken a hit

Ismael says that Arondir has taken a blow to his spirit (there is a funeral pyre, could Bronwyn be dead?) Is that why Theo is crying in the trailer? 

Miriel marches down the stairs in an elaborate gown, has her sight returned, or is she just that good at faking it? 

Emma states that, at least in Numenor, the chess board has been set and the pieces are moving

Ben states that the Gloves have come off in season 2, as far as the Elves are concerned

Gil-Galad orders a watch at every crossing, he must not escape (the search for Sauron is on)

I was wondering who the old, grey-haired elf was, but I can now see the chest armor and it’s Adar, but it looks like this might be a flashback scene because his hair is so different.

The Stranger appears briefly and Markella says it’s great to be back, both continuing their journey

Celebrimbor tells Galadriel that he’s had an unexpected visitor? It appears to be an elf coming through the open portal

Gotta love the comedy duo of Durins III and IV

John Howe is excited by the prospect of new places and territories in Middle-earth to explore

Elendil and other Numenoreans down by the rocky shore, what is everyone looking at? 

Maxim talking about how the set is almost too scary to go into, tunnels filled with spider webs and orcs caught in those webs. Is this Shelob’s Lair? It is one way out of Mordor. . .  

Incredible set design shown, and Bear McCreary talking to the singers about how when they are on this set and in costume, they are going to discover more things to do

And then we see Disa and her trio singing to the stones. 

Robert talks about doing new things that plunge you into the story, as we see him and other Elves in full armor in a battle. 

We see Celebrimbor and Durin IV together in what looks like a part of Khazad-dum (I want Narvi)

Maxim says it’s been a long wait, some bad things have happened and some good things have happened, but we are Back in Middle-earth.

As fans in the US no doubt already know, this summer Fathom Events are screening the Extended Editions of The Lord of the Rings movies! June 8, 9, 10, and then again June 22, 23, 24, Peter Jackson’s trilogy will be screened in AMC, Cinemark and Regal theatres across America.

If, like us, you never miss a chance to see these epic films on the big screen, then we have good news for you: we have 60 pairs of tickets to giveaway! That’s 20 pairs for each of the three movies, to be given away at random to lucky winners in the United States.

To be in with a chance to win, all you need to do is fill in the form below, letting us know which film (and date) you’d like, and your local participating theatre where you’d like to attend. Complete the form by 8pm EST May 15th, and we’ll be in touch if you’re a lucky winner!

The giveaway is now closed; thanks to all who entered! Winners chosen at random will be contacted soon.

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.