Should Middle-earth be a cinematic universe?

When it comes to the major franchises in Hollywood right now, interconnected universes are the name of the game. Obviously, a lot of the reasons for this can be attributed to the massive success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which currently consists of over 30 different films and Disney+ series released over the past 15 years. Beyond that, other major brands such as star Wars And DC has embraced the cinematic universe model as well, choosing to connect their various stories and put them all into one cohesive timeline. Looking at the array of famous brands and universes out there, one of the biggest brands that has yet to undergo this treatment is Middle-Earth, a world the Lord of the RingsCreated by JRR Tolkien.

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Universe the Lord of the Rings is one of the most popular works in all of fantasy literature. The traditions of Tolkien’s work run deep. There are countless tales and lands inhabiting a plethora of legends and adventures, stretching far beyond the confines of Frodo’s story and the One Ring that everyone is familiar with. Furthermore, and more importantly from a business perspective, the Lord of the Rings It is a major brand that people love very much and have a constant desire to see. The trilogy of films directed by Peter Jackson in the early 2000s is considered one of the best trilogies of all time, and more recently, Amazon shelled out big money for the production rights to its new show, rings of power, to take advantage of the potential of the brand. However, not every brand is suitable for the cinematic universe approach. Middle-Earth might seem fitting for a cinematic universe on paper, but forcing Tolkien’s works into this model may not be the best decision for the series.


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Amazon Studios

There have already been a few different Tolkien adaptations proving that there is a steady thirst of fans for new material. The Jackson trilogy is one of the biggest cinematic successes of the 21st century. Those films manage to achieve the perfect blend of being accessible to a general audience, while staying true to the source material and delivering an experience worthy of a dozen Academy Awards. All three films were undeniable box office successes, with the final film, The return of the king, grossing over $1 billion at the global box office. Those Lord of the rings The movies were, and still are, a sensation beloved by countless people.

After the success of Jackson’s films, work immediately began to develop more stories set in Middle-earth. For a while, director Guillermo del Toro was set to direct a two-part version The hobbit. That particular iteration never came to fruition, and eventually, Jackson returned to direct a trilogy of films based on the short book. These films were not as popular as the previous ones Lord of the rings movies, but it was still hugely successful. The first entry grossed over $1 billion at the box office, and the next two fell just $50 million short of that figure. Despite the general drop in quality that came with The hobbit From the films, they prove once again that there is a clear and significant audience interest in the brand. People love Middle-earth, and they will show up in droves to see it.

The current test for this fan is coming with Prime Video’s series adaptation of the Second Age of Middle-earth. While die-hard fans may be familiar with the story, rings of power serves as a prequel to the story for general audiences who are less familiar with Tolkien’s works outside of the Baggins family’s adventures at Bag End. Amazon paid an incomprehensible amount of money for the rights to produce the series, and while viewership numbers aren’t as exorbitant as they’d hoped, they’re still strong enough to warrant shipping a second season. Beyond that show, the next on-screen adaptation of Middle-Earth is down the tube The Lord of the Rings: War of the RohirrimIt is an animated film produced by Warner Bros. , which will tell the story of the horse lords of Rohan a few hundred years before its core. Lord of the rings story. This movie, due for release in April 2024, will be an interesting test case to see if audiences will still be interested in the series if it is to be explored in different mediums.

Related: The Lord of the Rings: How the Rohirrim War Could Set a New Course for the Series

Can Middle-earth sustain a cinematic universe?

Concept art for The Lord of the Rings: War of the Rohirrim showing a battle brewing in the Fields of Rohan
Pictures Warner Bros

There’s clearly a strong desire from both die-hard fans and the general public to see more Middle-Earth content on screen. It’s a rich world with complex characters and exciting stories to tell. What more could you want from a chain like this? Looking at the modern entertainment landscape, many of the biggest brands in existence today are taking advantage of the cinematic universe model. the Lord of the rings The series, and the world of Middle-Earth, looks like it could easily benefit from this approach as well. There are many different stories to explore in Middle-Earth, spanning thousands of years and ranging from the lands of Arnor to Beleriand and Rhûn.

The decision to move the series in this direction wouldn’t be an entirely new one for the series, either. nope the Lord of the rings and the The hobbit The trios are set within the same continuity as each other, with multiple actors from Lord of the rings Films reprising their roles in the prequel films. There are also many storylines and moments specifically included by Jackson to add more connective tissue between the two trilogies. However, one canonical trilogy and an episodic prequel trilogy don’t quite make for a cinematic universe. This is the place Rohirrim war This movie comes. Although this movie is animated and set hundreds of years before the two existing trilogies, it is confirmed that it takes place in the same continuity as Jackson’s films. This can be clearly seen through the inclusion of the character Ewen as the story’s narrator, with Miranda Otto reprising the role for the film.

Now, with three separate stories in the same continuity, it’s clear that the beginnings of the cinematic universe are really beginning to emerge from the Lord of the Rings, particularly Jackson’s adaptations of it. In particular , rings of power It is not set within the same continuity. Since this series is produced by Amazon, not Warner Bros. They do not have the specific rights to the versions made by Jackson. This is why several characters, such as Elrond and Galadriel, had to be recast for the Prime Video series. The series highlights how an overarching brand can support the cinematic universe, though the history of the world is so detailed and comprehensive that you could adapt stories from it for years without running out of material.

if the Lord of the Rings To adopt a cinematic universe approach, you’d likely be the same way star Wars has, instead of the MCU. While the MCU is undoubtedly the most successful cinematic universe out there, the approach the franchise takes to its universe is very linear. With a very small difference, the series unfolds almost exclusively by forwarding its timeline, while star Wars jumps all over the place. Stories told in star Wars The universe will transition from a new movie set thirty years after the original trilogy to a series set 100 years before the prequels and basically everything in between. star Wars It plays fast and loose with its timeline, with each new entry in the canon set in a different place than the last. It does not unfold in one linear direction. Instead, the series takes a scattershot approach that has worked well so far. The world of Middle-Earth will need to embrace this approach, and with it Rohirrim war And rings of powerIt seems like she’s already doing it.

Related: Rings of Power: Every returning character from The Lord of the Rings movies

Less is more

Lord of the rings
New Line Cinema

With all that said, just because the Lord of the Rings It can easily be adapted into a cinematic universe doesn’t mean it has to be. Obviously, ie Lord of the rings Fans will have a desire to see their favorite Tolkien stories told on screen, whether through film or television. But that doesn’t mean they want to be endlessly inundated with new stories. Both star Wars And the MCU is starting to have problems with this. They simply put in too much stuff. It’s becoming very difficult for casual viewers to keep up with everything these brands are producing, and as a result, it’s easy to skip a brand-new entry.

Both brands have lost some of the luster and oomph they once had. new star Wars Movie used to feel like a special event, but now with Disney+ we’re getting a new live-action star Wars Articles at least three times a year. The same is true of the MCU, where this problem has only gotten worse. In 2022 alone, they have produced three movies, three live-action series, and two TV specials. That’s a lot. An additional problem with this is that the overall quality of material being put out by both franchises has become inconsistent. While showing eg Andor And Moon Knight It was great, it was balanced with massively sub-par entries like Boba Fett book And Thor: Love and Thunder.

if the Lord of the Rings become a cinematic, the people behind it will need to learn from the mistakes of these other series. While it might be exciting to get three new Middle-Earth shows or movies a year for the first year or two, it gets stale quickly. It’s so easy for a brand to become overexposed and diluted, and you’ll start to not feel so special anymore. This isn’t to say that the cinematic universe approach should be avoided entirely, as there are clearly some real benefits that could come from that. The issue is the extreme level of production, not the way the stories are told. if the Lord of the Rings It could strike the right balance between telling stories in the same universe while still showing some restraint with how often stories are told, it could easily become more successful than it already is, while securing long-term interest from fans and the general public.

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