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Christopher Tolkien: No More Tolkien Movies, Including The Silmarillion


The question of whether a “Silmarillion” movie should be made comes up here quite often, and it did again this morning, when a post from The Hobbit Movie feed landed in my inbox with that exact question. Note that they’re not affiliated with New Line Cinema or the Tolkien estate. Just fun-loving hobbit fans like us.

So let’s think about this. I’d love to see a Silmarillion movie made, but it would have to be made in at least two — better yet, three — movies. The book is just too dense and complex to try and do in one movie.

However, J.R.R. Tolkien never finished the book, so the volume sitting on your shelf or down at the local bookstore is probably one that was fleshed out by his son Christopher Tolkien and others, notably fantasy writer Guy Gavriel Kay, based upon JRR Tolkien’s notes.

Also, a note over at TheOneRing.net indicates that the option to make a Silmarillion movie is currently closed, because Christopher Tolkien, the work’s literary executor, has refused to consider any further licensing of his father’s work for cinematic purposes. Possibly because he didn’t like Jackson’s re-telling of “The Hobbit.”

This puts a lot of things up in the air. Like, for example, whether the next two Hobbit movies can even reference anything in “The Silmarillion.” And whether even things like Gandalf’s scripted comment about the names of the two blue wizards are off-limits (he said the names were lost to him, but Tolkien provided the answers in “Unfinished Tales” — Alatar and Pallando).

All of this could put a serious crimp in the next two Hobbit movies, as well as, of course, any future films based on Tolkien’s work. Not just “The Silmarillion,” but also books like “Unfinished Tales” and “The Quest for Erebor,” all of which would make lovely films.

Apparently, the Tolkien family isn’t so much concerned with Peter Jackson, but rather, the commercialization of J.R.R. Tolkien’s writing, in general. Christopher Tolkien is reported by LeMonde as saying:

“Tolkien has become a monster, devoured by his own popularity and absorbed into the absurdity of our time. The chasm between the beauty and seriousness of the work, and what it has become, has overwhelmed me. The commercialization has reduced the aesthetic and philosophical impact of the creation to nothing. There is only one solution for me: to turn my head away.”

Ok, well for one thing, the beauty and seriousness of the work, in my view, was transferred beautifully to the screen for the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. These cinematic works aren’t “nothing,” as evidenced by the four Oscars, 79 other wins and 90 nominations for “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” alone.

Anyway, I guess there’s not much to be said, other than I hope the Tolkien family finds a way to work with future filmmakers, whether it be Peter Jackson or someone else, to bring these stories to the big screen.

Jane Boursaw is the founder and editor-in-chief of Reel Life With Jane. Her credits include hundreds of print and online publications, including The New York Times, People Magazine, Variety, Moviefone, TV Squad and more. Follow her on Twitter at @reellifejane.

Jane Boursaw has written posts on Reel Life With Jane.


  1. Eh, I can see where he’s coming from. LOTR was just amazing. But the film industry has a well-deserved reputation for exploitation, Hollywood especially, and when they seize on something, they’ll drive it into the ground, resulting in a crappy, ridiculous imitation of what it once was. I would imagine Christopher Tolkien doesn’t want to see that happen. Better to lock it down so some jerk can’t swoop down after PJ and wreck it.
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  2. Well apparently, it is not Christopher Tolkien’s right to prevent ‘The Silmarillion’ from being produced into a movie. I read a while back about Jackson obtaining it’s rights from the Tolkien family and that the first film of 5 films, “Ainulindalë” would come out some time during 2018. Now I’m no where near 100% on this, but if someone knows more, let me know!

  3. The LOTR films are terrible representations of the books. They destroy just about every character from the books, distort the relationships, and turn Tolkien’s stand against the modern and post-modern mentality into a much more cynical tale.

    I did enjoy the films when they came out, but re-reading Tolkien’s work and other writings surrounding it reveals the distortion. An Aragorn who doesn’t wish to achieve his destiny. An Elrond that is bitter and cynical. A Frodo that dismisses Sam in favor of Gollum, despite Sam’s long loyalty and love. Merry and Pippin as mere fools that just stumble into the quest as opposed to their willing desire to go forward due to their friendship (and they also are noblemen of the Shire from distinguished houses). A Denethor that is a dotard who is unwise and has no real care to defend his city. A shell of Minas Tirith – and one that apparently did not send the women and children away as in the book.

    The list of how much was corrupted by Jackson and his minions is long and it continues in The Hobbit. They seek to frame it as a Dungeons and Dragons dilution instead of as the glorious tale it is – a tale where the unexpected and divinely appointed salvation comes.

    A great film adaptation could have been made that respected the characters. Instead we see them all perverted severely from Frodo to Faramir, the man who had no desire for the ring and never had any intention of bringing it back to Minas Tirith.

    I realize that cinema is not the written word, but the spirit of the characters could have been preserved, but Peter Jackson opted for something from his own warped mind instead. He has yet to make a film worth a lick of salt. King Kong was atrocious and just further proves his own vanity. Just because the academy gives you an award does not mean that your film is quality, it just means you agree with their cynical world view.

    I’d love to see The Silmarillion adapted at some point, but not by Hollywood. It would function better as a miniseries of some kind and it would have to be far more than three films. The book encompasses thousands of years of history, stretching from the creation of Arda to the drowning of Numenor to the end of the Third Age.

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