"Yesssss, Precious"

The return to Middle Earth -- hopefully with some lessons learned from The Hobbit films
Warner Bros. to Release New ‘Lord of the Rings’ Movie ‘The Hunt for Gollum’ in 2026, Peter Jackson to Produce and Andy Serkis to Direct
Warner Bros. will release its first new ‘Lord of the Rings’ movie in 2026. Andy Serkis will direct ‘The Hunt for Gollum,’ while Peter Jackson produces.

I'm honestly not sure how to feel about this. On one hand, Serkis' Gollum was and remains one of the most impressive digital characters ever created. I don't think it's a stretch to say that he's the most important part of the original film trilogy. If Gollum doesn't work, the entire thing doesn't work. And they made it work.1

On the other hand, where are we going with this? What's the story here, literally? This feels more than a little cash-grabby...2

The working title, The Hunt for Gollum, implies it's about Gandalf's quest to find the creature after he reveals what he knows about the Ring of Power, which is based off the appendices of The Lord of the Rings. And a fan film (of the same name) was made off of this storyline in 2009. Also, Aragon is involved. To ask the obvious: should we expect Ian McKellen and Viggo Mortensen to be back?3 If so, that would legitimately be a huge cinematic moment.4

But as great as The Lord of the Rings films were, that's how mediocre The Hobbit follow-up films were.5 The reason why was obvious: The Lord of the Rings is a sprawling, epic book trilogy made into a sprawling, epic film trilogy. The Hobbit was one, rather short book made into a sprawling, epic film trilogy. It should have been one film. As three, it ran out of gas pretty early on. Which, of course, gives one pause about a movie (presumably) based on the appendices of the books.6

In Serkis we trust though – he's great at basically everything he does. Including, fittingly, giving quotes:

“Yesssss, Precious,” Serkis said. “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. With Mike and Pam, and the Warner Bros team on the quest as well, alongside WETA and our filmmaking family in New Zealand, it’s just all too delicious…”

Also buried in here is the news that, "there is another". From NYT:

Another “Lord of the Rings” movie will follow “The Hunt for Gollum,” Warner Bros. said. The original trilogy’s director, Peter Jackson, and screenwriters, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, will act as producers on both films. A separate animated movie directed by Kenji Kamiyama, “The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim,” will be released in December.

What might this second mysterious project be?

1 Some may recall that Gollum in The Fellowship of the Ring is quite different (in look) from the character in the remaining two films. They knew they had to get him right, even if it meant back to the drawing board after the brief appearance in the first film. And they nailed it.

2 Especially given Warner Bros Discovery's still precarious position as a company. It feels like they need to milk all IP that they can at the moment. Which is never a good way to kick off such projects... Hopefully that's way too cynical. But I worry it's not.

3 While McKellen is now 84 years old, he's still quite active in acting roles. Also, if anything, the 84-year-old McKellen may perhaps just require a tad less makeup to portray Gandalf than the 61-year-old McKellen did... Also, humorously, Mortensen is now 65 years old -- four years older than McKellen was when he first played Gandalf.

4 Another key player in the fan film: Arwen -- so Liv Tyler could be back as well. And this could be done without needed Bilbo Baggins, as sadly Ian Holm passed away four years ago. Perhaps Frodo could make an appearance -- maybe along with Sam, Merry, and Pippin, all of whom seemingly have been hanging out a lot recently...

5 Sort of wild that it was nine years between The Return of the King and the first Hobbit film and it's now been ten years since the last of those films. And this new Gollum film will release in 2026 -- hopefully enough distance for no fear of Rings/Hobbit fatigue...

6 Also, we already have an entire Amazon series working with off of this content. The first season was mixed at best. Season two is coming soon...

7 These footnotes are now like the Lord of the Rings appendices...