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Embracer aside, Peter Jackson and Andy Serkis had actually been thinking about more Gollum for a while

We still have our doubts, but it sounds like this specific pitch didn't come from executives.

Gollum in The Lord of the Rings
Image credit: New Line Cinema

Despite Embracer's repeated warnings, the world was shocked when last week a new Lord of the Rings movie was confirmed. Moreover, it was revealed that the new big-screen project is titled The Hunt for Gollum, and everyone started questioning who asked for this. Well, now we know that the pitch came from the filmmakers behind the six previous New Line-produced movies, actually.

Deadline's in-depth article, which features quotes straight from Peter Jackson, Andy Serkis, and writer Philippa Boyens will put some minds at ease, yet it seems the Middle-earth veterans are now tied to a new wave of The Lord of the Rings projects they hadn't thought about before.

Word on the street last week was that Embracer and Warner Bros. Discovery, in their seemingly endless search for bankable IPs to mine, had toyed with the idea of doing safe spinoffs and prequels that followed a younger Aragorn or Gandalf, among other famous names. "Gollum’s life span takes place in such an interesting period of Middle-earth. When the question was first asked, this was the first story we thought of. Because I can tell you, and people might not believe this, but we had zero expectations of going back to this. It wasn’t something we were looking to do, particularly," Boyens explained.

When it was announced that Embracer would team up with New Line Cinema to keep things simple and take advantage of their extensive experience in Middle-earth, many thought the first batch of new movies would focus on parallel events to the War of the Ring or prequels and bland spinoffs that fleshed out some of the most iconic characters from The Hobbit and/or The Lord of the Rings. It was a depressing prospect, honestly, and the announcement of a Gollum-centric movie sounded exactly like that. Now, it at least feels like there was a creative hunger to tell that story long before Embracer and Warner knocked at the veterans' door.

"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," Jackson said. Regardless of how we feel about this project and the three divisive Hobbit prequels that Jackson directed more than a decade ago, we know he and his partners are capable of juicing up what right now sounds like a pretty hollow pitch. How will the general audiences react to another potentially bloated pre-LOTR tale though? We all love Gollum, he's a fun little guy, but is there enough gas left in there?

Gollum in The Lord of the Rings
Image credit: New Line Cinema

Another secret weapon to make diehards more interested might be Andy Serkis, who's set to direct the movie on top of playing Smeagol/Gollum once again. While his output in the director's chair when it comes to blockbusters isn't stellar (Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, Venom: Let There Be Carnage), it's easy to notice most issues came from the scripts rather than his actual directorial choices, which were consistently stylish and drew a lot from his second unit work on the Hobbit movies. Adding him to the Jackson-Boyens-Walsh team added plenty of shine to an announcement that otherwise would've only received cold shoulders.

"I’m very honored that they’ve asked me to come back. I really am...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. Yeah, it was a terrific moment." Yep, even Serkis is shocked that the gang is going right back into Middle-earth again. He also pointed out that he never really left Tolkien's universe, as he's also been working on audio books of The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and The Silmarillion. Furthermore, his time playing Gollum clearly informed his take on other groundbreaking mo-cap characters such as Caesar and the other apes in the modern Planet of the Apes movies.

Gollum video game - Mordor
Image credit: Daedalic Entertainment

"We have the right to the Lord of the Rings and the appendices, and that’s it," Boyens said when asked about a potential expansion past the borders of LOTR and The Hobbit. She also confirms she hasn't watched Amazon's take on the Second Age because she didn't want to be influenced by it, but she thinks they chose wisely when figuring out the premise: "The making of the rings of power is a brilliant piece of storytelling. It’s a great era, full of fascinating characters."

The Lord of the Rings: The Hunt for Gollum is currently set to release in 2026, but a more specific window or date hasn't been shared. If we had to guess, the Christmas slot is probably a safe bet... if the project doesn't hit bumps in the road to filming. This year, however, The War of the Rohirrim, an animated movie in development well before Embracer took over the IP, arrives in theaters on December 13.

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