Six Middle Earth Tales That Could Make Good LORD OF THE RINGS Movies

Lord of the Rings Gandalf
Image via New Line

Last week, Warner Brothers announced that they were in development on a new live action Lord Of The Rings film titled The Hunt For Gollum with a targeted release of 2026. While it was known that the studio had the film rights to develop additional movies based on author J. R. R. Tolkien’s landmark The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings novels, it wasn’t until the announcement was made that fans knew what the first story of these future films would be. And even then, the revelation that Peter Jackson, the writer/director who spearheaded the live action adaptations of The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit, was signed on to produce the first couple of these live action films overshadowed the title announcement news somewhat.

But what lies beyond The Hunt For Gollum? The history of Middle Earth as sketched out by Tolkien is thousands of years longs with nearly the same number of potential stories. However, there is a large part of that potential we probably will not be seeing on the big screen anytime soon. The answer as to why this is is fairly simple – Warner Brothers does not have the film rights to these stories. The only thing that the studio has access to is any material contained in The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings books, including the appendices in Lord Of The Rings. That means nothing from The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales Of Numenor and the various History Of Middle Earth volumes can be used. That takes several stories popular with fans such as the tale of Beren and Luthien or any of the wars against Morgoth off the table.

(Note that the television rights that Amazon has for their The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power series is a separate deal and has provisions wherein the Tolkien estate could grant rights to specific elements that normally lay outside of the agreement. There is no indication that the film rights have a similar condition.)

Other story avenues that probably won’t be considered would be ones that contradict the slightly different continuity created by the adaptation process of the books into films. This would rule out something like The Lord Of The Rings‘ “Scouring Of The Shire” segment which Jackson cut from Return Of The King. Additionally, with Amazon’s The Rings Of Power series centering their storytelling in the Second Age, it seems likely that the Warner Brothers films will steer clear of that era and concentrate their films within the Third Age.

But here are six stories that just might be good material for cinematic adaptation with some of the pros and cons that Warner Brothers could consider if they were to pursue any of these possible tales.

Young Aragorn

Fellowship Of The Ring Aragorn Strider
Image via New Line

When Amazon first announced that they were going to produce a five-season Middle Earth television series for their Prime Video service, one of the rumored subjects of the series was that of the early life of The Lord Of The Rings character Aragorn. As the last descendant of Isiludur – the King who cut the One Ring off of Sauron’s hand during his final battle with the Last Alliance of Elves and Men which would mark the end of the Second Age -, Aragorn was raised in secret in the elvish realm of Rivendale, his identity withheld from everyone including Aragorn himself until his twentieth birthday. He would then hide in plain sight for the next several decades, serving as a ranger and traveling across Middle Earth and eventually meeting Gandalf.

While there is plenty of space in the life of Aragorn to tell some interesting stories leading up to his appearance in the Prancing Pony in Fellowship Of The Ring, it is possible that some of this material – specifically his meeting and early friendship with Gandalf and his role in the capture of Gollum – could already be being eyed for inclusion in the upcoming The Hunt For Gollum. Additionally, if Aragorn is a major player in the Hunt For Gollum, which seems likely, would audiences find it odd that that film would be followed by a film that would essentially be a prequel? The likelihood of Warners doing a Young Aragorn film is predicated on how much of the story is already folded into The Hunt For Gollum so it may be some time before we get enough information to make a more educated guess if this would be an option.

The War In The North

The Hobbit
Image via New Line

Nearly all of the story of the Lord Of The Rings sees its action play out in the southern portion of the known lands of Middle Earth. But that doesn’t mean that the War of the Ring didn’t extend beyond the southern tips of the Misty Mountains and Mirkwood. Sauron had designs upon all of Middle Earth and was moving against some of the other lands and kingdoms simultaneously. While some of Sauron’s forces were engaged with the forces of Gondor and Rohan at the Battle of Pellenor Fields, Easterlings under Suaron’s command were making their way towards Eregon, aka the Lonely Mountain of the dwarves. Outside its gates, the Easterlings laid siege, but the Dwarves, allied with the Men of Dale to their immediate south, withstood the attack until news came of Sauron’s defeat and destruction, at which point the Easterlings retreated back to their own lands. Meanwhile, groups of Sauron’s forces left their fortress of Dol Guldur at the tip of Mirkwood to attack the elvish kingdoms of Lorien and the Woodland Realm of Thranduil. Both attacks were repelled by the elves and when Sauron was vanquished, the armies from Dol Guldor were handily defeated.

While Tolkien only briefly sketches these two different fronts of the War of the Ring, there certainly is enough material there to form the backbone of one or even more than one, film. And according to Tolkien’s notes in the Lord Of The Rings‘ Appendix B there are a few characters already familiar to those who have seen the previous Middle Earth movies involved in these events, including the dwarf king Dain Ironfoot, elf lord Thranduil, elf lord Celeborn and the lady Galadriel. Happening concurrently with most of the events of The Return Of The King, there could conceivably be some additional crossover to a War Of The North film, if only to help solidify in the audience’s minds as to when it is taking place.

Tales Of The Dwarves

The Hobbit
Image via New Line

The dwarvish people are one of the key races in Tolkien’s Middle Earth, butand their history has often been one of tragedy and sorrow. For nearly all of their existence, they have been locked in enmity with the elves. And their own desire for gold and precious gems have often made them targets for others who wish to steal their riches for themselves. It seems as as if great dwarvish triumphs are often followed by great dwarvish tragedies, such as when the dragon Smaug descended upon and plundered Erebor at the height of its glory, dispersing the dwarves of that kingdom across the northern lands of Middle Earth. The dwarves of Moria “dug too deep and too greedily,” disturbing an ancient evil balrog from its slumber. The dwarf Balin’s attempt to reclaim Moria from the orcs ended in disaster. Dwarvish victories in their war against the orcs often came at a bitter cost, as seen at the last great conflict in that conflict, the Battle of Azanulbizar. There are definitely some great and heroic tales of the dwarves to be told, but since they mostly end on a note of sadness, they seem like a tough sell for the studio to get behind.

The Kin-Strife of Gondor

Lord of the Rings
Image via New Line

Set nearly sixteen centuries before the events of the Lord Of The Rings, the Kin-strife was the name given to a civil war that erupted over the suitability of Eldacar to assume the throne as he twenty-first king of Gondor. The few broad details of the overall events of the Kin-Strife suggest a story comprising both both palace intrigue and large scale battles, which certainly suggests plenty of room for an epic screen story.

However, a film based on the Kin-Strife would be entirely divorced of any familiar characters and with only a couple of previously seen places in Gondor factoring into the tale. If the studio were to entertain the idea of doing a story like this without any of the familiar Lord Of The Rings characters as touchstones, they may wait on that decision to see how the public reacts to this December’s animated Lord Of The Rings: War Of The Rohirrim film, which is similarly separated from the previous films by centuries, before greenlighting a story like this.

The Fall Of Arnor/ The Witch-King Of Angmar

Lord of the Rings Witch-King
Image via New Line

The Witch-King of Angmar is the chief of the Nazgul and as such was commander of Sauron’s forces during the War of the Ring as seen in The Lord Of The Rings. But the films did not have any room to sketch out any of the Witch-King’s story between his corruption by Sauron and transformation into a ringwraith during the Second Age and when we meet him in The Two Towers. When Sauron was defeated at the end of the Second Age, the Witch-King, along with the rest of the Nazgul and Sauron’s various other minions, went into hiding, rebuilding their strength and plotting their return. After a thousand years, Sauron began to slowly put into motion his new plans, with the Witch-King establishing a kingdom in the north west of Middle Earth, where he sought to take advantage of the strife between the three kingdoms of men in that region – Cardolan, Rhudaur and Arthedain – which at one point had been but one kingdom, Arnor. First using agents to heighten tensions between the three kingdoms, the Witch-King ultimately openly attacked, gaining some victories before ultimately being defeated by a coalition of men, elves and even a company of Hobbit archers.

Although most of the story of the Witch-King and the Fall of Arnor takes place nearly a thousand years before the events of The Hobbit and Lord Of The Rings, there are still a few familiar faces in the story, notably Elrond, who is the leader of one of the forces of Elves. The ruins of the fortification of Amon Sul will be the place where Aragorn and the four hobbits will be attacked by the ringwraiths on their way to Rivendale. Although the Witch-King would go on to do other things in service to Sauron for nearly the next thousand years, including the two-year siege and eventual capture of Minas Ithil, the severing of the line of the Kings of Gondor and leading the hunt for Sauron’s One Ring, his defeat in Arnor marks a good endpoint for this particular story.

Fram And The Dragon

The Hobbit Smaug
Image via New Line.

Probably one of the lesser known stories of the Third Age, Fram was a lord of the men of Eotheod, a land in the north, just east of the Misty Mountains. Fram was known for killing the dragon Scatha and claiming its horde of treasure for himself. That didn’t go down too well with the dwarves of the nearby Grey Mountains from whom Scatha stole the bulk of its treasure. When they demanded their portion of Scatha’s horde returned to them, Fram refused, mockingly sending them a necklace made from the dragon’s teeth. This leads to a confrontation between the two peoples that doesn’t end well for anyone. While this story is pretty much disconnected from any elements of The Hobbit or The Lord Of The Rings, a few centuries after the events of this story, many of the Eotheod will travel south to lend aid to Gondor in a war against the Balchoth, Easterlings under the control of Sauron. Afterwards, they would settle in the region and become known as the Riders of Rohirrim. A film adapting the story of Fram could conceivably use the same framing device that the animated The War Of The Rohirrim is reported to being use, that of Eowyn telling the story to others.

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About Rich Drees 7205 Articles
A film fan since he first saw that Rebel Blockade Runner fleeing the massive Imperial Star Destroyer at the tender age of 8 and a veteran freelance journalist with twenty-five years experience writing about film and pop culture. He is a member of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle.
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