The Silmarillion TV/Movie Deal

I (almost) forgot all about this! I mean, I added the tentative Dec. 13, 2018, date for the first movie release to my “Upcoming Movie Release Dates” page back in September. But, I forgot to post about it.

As I may have mentioned before, I am not very knowledgeable regarding The Silmarillion. (In fact, I’m not nearly as big a Tolkien-geek as I’d like to be, and it has been many years since I read The Hobbit and the LotR trilogy. If only I had more time….) I used to have a paperback copy of The Silmarillion (see pic to the right), which sat unread on my shelf for quite awhile, before I finally picked it up. But, I couldn’t get into it and didn’t get very far before being distracting with other stuff, never to return.

For those who don’t know, or can’t remember much more than I can about it, here is a quick Wikipedia summary of the contents of The Silmarillion:

The Silmarillion comprises five parts. The first part, Ainulindalë, tells of the creation of Eä, the ‘world that is‘. Valaquenta, the second part, gives a description of the Valar and Maiar, the supernatural powers in Eä. The next section, Quenta Silmarillion, which forms the bulk of the collection, chronicles the history of the events before and during the First Age, including the wars over the Silmarils [i.e., three brilliant jewels composed of the unmarred light of the Two Trees of Valinor] that gave the book its title. The fourth part, Akallabêth, relates the history of the Downfall of Númenor and its people, which takes place in the Second Age. The final part, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age, is a brief account of the circumstances which led to and were presented in The Lord of the Rings.

The five parts were initially separate works, but it was the elder Tolkien’s express wish that they be published together. Because J.R.R. Tolkien died before he finished revising the various legends, Christopher gathered material from his father’s older writings to fill out the book. In a few cases, this meant that he had to devise completely new material in order to resolve gaps and inconsistencies in the narrative.”

If I remember correctly, it was mostly 3rd-person narrative — which could be filmed in a sort of documentary style — but not much in the way of stories with protagonists following a plot, etc. But, that’s based on a vague memory of a brief exposure to probably just the first part of the book. So, I could very well be wrong. Still, as I said in a previous post, “any attempt to do more Tolkien movies would have to take a lot more creative license to flesh out a complete, movie-length story than even Jackson’s team has done. But, some of it might work as a TV series, or maybe a series of mini-series….”

So, here’s the scoop…

The news originally broke on or slightly before Aug. 1, 2016, on (now-defunct) OneRingtoRule.com, but Moviepilot’s JabberTalky jumped on the story with his own article, announcing,

“New Line Cinema, Warner Bros. Pictures, MGM and Showtime have officially announced the completion of a deal with the Tolkien Estate to adapt J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved novel, The Silmarillion, in a cross-platform deal that will include a multi-film franchise and premium cable television show to air on Showtime.

Warner Bros. confirms they will be going straight into preproduction, shooting the first two films back-to-back with a release date of December 13th, 2018 for the first installment.”

No director or cast were announced at the time, of course. But, Peter Jackson is set to executive produce and screenwriter Michael Arndt is adapting the first chapter. These are very good signs.

Now, this could be really good! With feature films and a Showtime series, they can cover a lot of ground. It will be very interesting to see how they break it all down, mixing historical narrative with action and romance, etc. I hope they are able to faithfully flesh out the stories and personalities of characters like Morgoth, Sauron, Feanor, Beren & Lúthien, etc. And, of course, they need to maintain the wonderful, visual style of Jackson’s previous Tolkien films, along with the beautiful soundtrack music, all of which captures the depth and tone of Tolkien’s mythology.

 

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P.S.  April Fool! Gotcha! Sorry, but I couldn’t publish this w/o letting you all know it was a joke. Sorry about that. I share your pain. In fact, I wrote this back in January, thinking the announcement was real. I was finishing it up, when I read some of the comments on the Moviepilot article, which were dated April 2014. Dang it!

P.P.S.  According to this piece at iDigitalTimes, Christopher Tolkien didn’t care for Jackson’s take on his father’s material, and he is quite intent on keeping other Tolkien properties away from the award-winning director. Oh, well! Maybe some other worthy will get the Tolkien blessing….

P.P.P.S.  Here’s a more recent article discussing the difficulties of adapting The Silmarillion, while expressing a wish for a “Game of Thrones”-style series by HBO.

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Bits-n-Pieces II

To be honest, I wasn’t able to focus on a regular post this week. So, as I’ve done on a couple past occasions, I’m going to make relatively brief comments on a handful of recent genre announcements & developments….

Small Screen

star-trek-discovery-1920Item #1: A few things have developed re the upcoming ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ series since I last blogged about it in August, but even then I didn’t comment on everything we knew. For example, producer Bryan Fuller had said that the show’s primary protagonist will be a female Lt. Commander (a la Majel Barrett’s “Number One” in the original TOS pilot). There will be more “diversity” in the ship’s crew, particularly in terms of one or more LGBT characters. I’m not thrilled about this, though I’m not surprised for a number of reasons — e.g., the “progressive” nature of the franchise, Hollywood’s push for LGBT characters, Fuller is a part of that community, etc. He also indicated that they will push the Star Trek boundaries by possibly having a bit of nudity and more profanity. I’m not thrilled with this, either. I guess they can get away with it, since it won’t be on network TV; but, it also flies in the face of one “rule” Paramount/CBS has always had about keeping all Star Trek productions — including fan-made — “family friendly”. If they do proceed with this, I hope it is quite limited. Fortunately, Fuller did say,

“Star Trek’s not necessarily a universe where I want to hear a lot of profanity, either.”

In September, it was announced that STDisc’s debut was being pushed from January to May 2017. I had mixed feelings about this, but I’m not mad; if they need the extra time to make a great show, they should take it. Then Variety broke the story that Fuller had stepped down as showrunner, due to scheduling conflicts. Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts (and Alex Kurtzman?) stepped up as co-showrunners, while Fuller remained as executive producer. This caused a lot of hubbub re the show’s direction, but Fuller remains the chief architect.

“Fuller has penned the first two scripts for “Discovery” and has hammered out the broader story arc and mythology for the new “Trek” realm.” — Variety

Given his intentions, I obviously have mixed feelings about this. (I like his idea of making it less episodic and having a multi-episode story arc, and I’m intrigued with the concept of making the ship’s captain merely a supporting player.) It was also indicated that Romulans may be the primary villains in the series, and that would seem to work for the era in which it will be taking place (i.e., 10 years prior to ST:TOS).

Item #2: Just a couple days ago, Marvel announced that it is teaming up with Disney|ABC Television Group and IMAX to develop a “Marvel’s The Inhumans” TV series. It will actually debut the first two episodes in IMAX theaters in September 2017. (That’s fast!) Not only is IMAX co-financing the project, but the IMAX cameras/tech will provide enhanced imagery and visual effects. Cool! Oh,… after the debut in theaters, the full 8 episodes will show on ABC starting in the Fall, “with additional exclusive content that can only be seen on the network.” Very cool!

1173129-inhumansThis show will not be connected to “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. (This likely also means there will not be an Inhumans movie connected to the MCU.) So, the “inhuman” characters we have seen in the S.H.I.E.L.D. series will not be involved in this one. In fact, the new show will be centered on the Inhumans’ Royal Family that fans know from the comics and animated series (see pic).

I was always a fan of the Inhumans, with their unique society and ties to the Fantastic Four and X-Men (and the Kree race, of course). I look forward to seeing the city of Attilan and its odd denizens. If they do this right, I will be a very happy camper! (I feel a multi-part fan-casting coming on….)

Item #3: Another very recent announcement came from HBO — namely, there are official talks with author/creator George R.R. Martin about a “Game of Thrones” prequel show to follow the fan-favorite series. No details, as yet. As per HBO programming president Casey Bloys,

“[I]t’s still kind of preliminary ongoing talks. There are [time periods within GoT history] we are exploring, but I wouldn’t point to any one and say, ‘This is what we’re going to do.’”

Big Screen

Item #4: OK, part of this has been known for a few months, but stick with me…. For quite awhile, there was some question about whether or not we would see a new Batman solo movie or a proper sequel to Man of Steel. Now, the answer to both is “Yes!” Actually, it was back in Spring of this year (2016) that we found out Ben Affleck would be co-writing (with DC Entertainment CCO Geoff Johns) and starring in a Batman solo movie. Affleck was determined to complete a script he was happy with before he would begin filming. He also said he wanted to create an original story, borrowing familiar things from the comics, and that he wants to showcase Batman’s detective skills. (Amen to that!)

In the Summer it was confirmed that Affleck would be directing, and the tentative title is “The Batman”. More recently, Joe Manganiello signed on to play Deathstroke — presumably the main villain. The film is currently scheduled for release in Oct. 2018.

As for the Man of Steel 2, in August 2015 we got conflicting reports that George Miller would be directing and that the film was on “permanent hold”. But, a year later TheWrap announced that a Man of Steel sequel was finally in active development at Warner Bros. and “a top priority for the studio”. Henry Cavill’s agent, Dany Garcia, confirmed this in an interview with Newsweek in September, saying:

“[Cavill and I have] been in a five-month period of time where he’s re-strategizing, acquiring property [for his production company Promethean], he’s filming [Justice League] now, he’s in development for the Superman standalone… he’s beginning to expand that world.”

Man of Steel 2 likely won’t arrive in theaters until late 2019.

I have to say, I am psyched for both of these. Yes, I know: “It’s Batfleck!”… “Man of Steel and DvJ were too dark!”… “They changed too much stuff.”… yada, yada. I have already explained in previous posts that I share some of these concerns and also why I’m OK with other aspects. My hope is that the respective creative teams will respect the fans’ input and address those “problems” in the new films. For example, I am fine with a darker, more violent and cynical Batman at this stage in his career. But, I want the Superman film to have a more positive, brighter tone, both visually and thematically speaking.

negasonic-teenage-warhead-ego-the-living-planetItem #5: Only a couple days ago, it was reported that Marvel and Fox had worked out a “backroom deal” to trade characters. Well, not “trade” exactly, and this actually happened a couple years ago….

You may or may not remember — I always get this stuff confused — that 20th Century Fox owns the cinematic rights to all things X-Men related (including Deadpool), among other things, while Marvel Studios owns the cinematic rights to Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers. While developing Deadpool, the writers decided they really wanted the Negasonic Teenage Warhead character — or, at least, a differently-powered character with that name — but Marvel owned it. Marvel agreed to it but on the condition that they get to use Ego, the Living Planet, (owned by Fox) in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. Thus, the deal was struck.

This is big, because it shows that these two studios, who don’t always get along, can negotiate agreements to trade/loan characters to each other. All it takes is a mutually beneficial trade, and (hopefully) everybody — including the fans — wins. I hope this is a sign of things to come, so that other beloved characters can show up cross-studios, as it were.

Item #6: Finally, speaking of Deadpool… You probably already know that a sequel is already in pre-production and scheduled for a March 2, 2018, release. (Of course, first they need to replace the now-departed director, Tim Miller.) It is rumored to co-star Rich Sands as Nathan Summers / Cable. But, the studio is so confident in the franchise that it has already greenlit Deadpool 3. This one is rumored to include some version of the mutant team known as X-Force. (No idea what this means for Jeff Wadlow’s planned X-Force movie. Could be a jumping off point, I suppose.) Could be great news for Deadpool and X-Force fans!

Fin.

Quick Reviews of “Extant” and “The Strain”

I was trying to figure out what to write about this week. I needed a break from fan-casting, so I decided to review another TV series… or two. I say “another”, but technically the only other series I’ve reviewed here up ’til now is “Star Trek Continues”, and that doesn’t air on TV (regular or cable). I will be reviewing the upcoming “Gotham” and “The Flash” series in separate posts in the next few weeks. But, for “Extant” and “The Strain”, I think I’ll keep my comments relatively brief, so I can cover both in one. I suppose I could have waited until both series were completed, but a) I’m a few weeks behind in viewing them and b) I have other things planned through the end of the year. It just made more sense to squeeze these reviews in now. So,…

Extant promo posterOn the night I publish this, “Extant” will air its 12th and penultimate episode, but I will have only watched through episode 8. I am enjoying the show but still wondering how it all fits together. Some threads are coming together, but others aren’t quite there. (For example, I’m wondering if Ethan will “go bad” or if the “offspring” will make some connection with “him”. And, what’s with this Odin guy and his little group? What is Femi Dodd’s agenda?) I guess that’s a good thing, that they keep us guessing and (hopefully) coming back for more. Gradual revelations and plot twists-n-turns will do that.

Halle Berry is pretty good in the lead role, and even when she isn’t doing anything particularly dramatic, she’s certainly easy on the eyes! (Sorry if that sounds mildly sexist, but you know the ladies enjoy watching a handsome, hunky guy like Goran Visnjic, too.) I’m still not sure about pairing Berry with Visnjic, though. I don’t have a problem with interracial couples. But, these two characters just don’t feel like a happily married couple. (Of course, her having been away for 13 months, plus the current events in their lives, would understandably have put a lot of unusual stress on their relationship.) Young Pierce Gagnon as “Ethan” is adorable — and potentially scary. Hiroyuki Sanada is good as Yasumoto, though the role is disturbingly similar to the one he just played in “Helix”. The rest of the casting is fine, too.

The tech seems pretty cool. Beyond the voice-controlled home security systems and self-driving cars, I mean, which are beginning to become available now in real-life. The prosthetics, robotics, and especially the A.I. is obviously waaaay beyond anything we’ll have anytime soon. Also, given how often they send up manned space missions, I’m guessing they’ve made several advances in that area, too. Btw, anybody catch how far in the future this is supposed to take place? I don’t remember hearing or seeing a year mentioned, but I’m guessing it has to be 40-50 years or more from now.

“The Strain” is a bit different. While I have only watched the first 5 episodes, so far, I already know how it’s going to turn out. Well,… sort of. I discovered and read the first book (that the show is based on) several months ago, so it’s fairly fresh in my mind. (Hazy on a few details, of course.) This is both a blessing and a curse. I enjoyed the novel by Del Toro and Hogan and was pleased to find out it was being adapted for television. However, as I feared, they have made so many changes — some understandable, some less so — that it is rather frustrating to watch.

The Strain promo posterOverall, the casting is fine. No major complaints there, though I would have preferred Jesse Rath as Gabriel Bolivar, and it’s too bad that John Hurt had to be replaced as Abraham Setrakian. Character-wise, I’m darn sure I remember Ephraim’s boss at the CDC being much older and not such a jerk in the novel. I also think the characters of Vasiliy Fet and Gus have been written to be much more, er, aggressive than they were originally. Why?

What bugs me most is the different pacing that the writers/producers took for TV. Several things have occurred or been revealed much sooner than they were in the book — for example, the medical examiner’s discoveries of new organs in the victims’ bodies (and what happened to him), Ephraim & Nora’s discoveries of the worms, the confrontation with Capt. Redfern (which originally only involved Ephraim, I think), the first view of The Master, the “reveal” of Jim’s involvement, etc. Speaking of The Master, that “appendage” of his is HUGE! In fact, all of the victims that have “turned” have them. In the book, the new organ grows in the throat but the thing that shoots out of the mouth is much smaller.

On the whole, I’m still enjoying the show, and I’ll watch it to the end, which I presume will take us through the end of the first novel. But, it just annoys me when so much has(?) to change when adapting a novel to the small- or large-screen. I know, I know. Some of it really is necessary to keep the different elements of the story moving for the TV audience. That’s why I’m “tolerating” it and not complaining (too much) when some characters and subplots are missing, merged, or otherwise modified or when the locations for where certain scenes occur are altered from the book. But, sometimes, it’s like they change things just to annoy me! :/