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), 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.


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.

UPDATE 11/4/2017:  As far as I can tell, the following article is for real: “‘Lord of the Rings’ TV Series Being Considered By Amazon”.


Middle-Earth Illustrated

Edel-Silmarillion openedIt’s Christmas-time again, which means that, for the 3rd year in a row, there is a new Hobbit movie out at the theaters. (No, I haven’t seen it, yet.) Of course, The Hobbit was only one book, and not a particularly long one at that. As fans know, writer/producer Peter Jackson et al. pulled additional material from elsewhere — namely, the appendices of The Lord of the Rings — to fill in some of the gaps and add backstory, thereby expanding The Hobbit into a movie trilogy. [Note: This will not be a commentary on the wisdom(?) of stretching it into a trilogy or the execution of said trilogy or of the faithfulness to the source material.]

Of course, there is still a lot more Tolkien wrote about Middle Earth — i.e., The SilmarillionUnfinished Tales, and the History of Middle-Earth books. But, as I understand it, the movie rights have not been granted/sold. Plus, from what I understand (and please correct me if I’m wrong), they comprise mostly myths, legends, and short stories spanning thousands of years, so it would be quite difficult to pull a coherent narrative straight from the material. In other words, 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….

Opening page of the *Edel-Silmarillion*

Opening page of the *Edel-Silmarillion*

But, let’s not talk about that. Instead, let’s just take a look at some beautiful calligraphy and associated illustrations being done to “illuminate” Middle-Earth. Specifically, this is the work of a young German artist, Benjamin Harff, for his Edel-Silmarillion — a deluxe, hand-crafted edition of The Silmarillion. He made it for an exam before graduating art school, though he went above and beyond what was required. Sadly, it is a one-of-a-kind, and the Tolkien Estate has not responded to his inquiries about working with Harper-Collins to reproduce it (or even just getting their official blessing). At least, they hadn’t been in touch as of the time of the interview, which was (I think) in 2009.

Here’s the interview, which includes several more pics of Harff’s work on Edel-Silmarillion. If we’re lucky, maybe we’ll be able to get a copy ourselves next Christmas!