Peter Jackson is Making a Gollum Prequel Whether You Want it or Not

It’s time to explore the appendices.

Andy Serkis as Gollum in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
New Line Cinema

Of all the ideas to come out of Middle-earth, Andy Serkis’ Gollum is by far the most fascinating. The character has become the sneering face of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films, and for good reason. Serkis’ work as a motion-capture performer carried the medium into a new frontier, and the filmmaker brought pathos to a character who could have easily been an annoying mascot.

For all his inherent meme potential, Gollum is a compelling, complicated figure. He has the potential to inspire as much sympathy as he does ire, which is why fascination for him has endured decades after his last film appearance.

Unfortunately, that same fascination with Gollum has opened the door for a few unnecessary prequels. 2023 saw ol’ Smeagol become the star of his own video game, but to say that The Lord of the Rings: Gollum was a failure would be a gross understatement. But one bad apple isn’t enough to dissuade the powers that be, especially as Warner Bros. strives to expand the Lord of the Rings universe on the big screen.

Peter Jackson is back to produce new Lord of the Rings films.

New Line Cinema

Last year, Warner Bros. teamed with video game company Embracer Group, which recently acquired the rights to develop any Middle-earth-related works authorized by the Tolkien Estate, to develop a new crop of Lord of the Rings films. Warner Bros. CEO David Zaslav revealed the first product of their partnership, a feature film, is “in the early stages of script development” and set for a release in 2026.

Peter Jackson has been chosen to produce the film, with longtime writing partners Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens “involved every step of the way.” The team is even reuniting with Serkis himself, as the filmmaker is set to direct Warner and Embracer’s first Lord of the Rings film.

Serkis’ involvement confirms that this new batch of films will be set within the continuity of Jackson’s trilogies. In addition to director duties, Serkis is reprising his role as Gollum. Though the script is still being written, the film’s working titleThe Lord of the Rings: The Hunt for Gollum — says a lot with a little.

Serkis has proved himself as a director with Venom: Let There Be Carnage, so there’s some potential for The Hunt for Gollum.

Sony Pictures

It’s safe to assume The Hunt for Gollum will take place between the final Hobbit film, The Battle of the Five Armies, and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. There’s a 60-year gap between those stories, and Tolkien’s written works do briefly describe what Gollum was up to. In the decade before Fellowship, Gollum was captured by Sauron’s agents and interrogated in Mordor. Serkis’ upcoming film could focus on his ordeal, or any events that precede or follow it. Either way, we could see some of the saga’s most popular characters return, from Gandalf and Aragorn to Sauron himself.

Serkis’ moves as a director have been fascinating to watch. The Hunt for Gollum will be the filmmaker’s latest project after Venom: Let There Be Carnage, his highest-profile stint behind the camera. It’s going to be interesting to see how his expertise as a motion-capture artist translates to the story, especially when it comes to a character he spent years building.

That said, following Gollum around isn’t the most exciting prospect for a prequel. Gollum is one of the franchise’s biggest characters, but the most compelling aspects of his story have already been told. It’s frustrating to see the Lord of the Rings saga so enamored with the past, especially when there’s plenty of material for — and interest in — the future of Middle-earth. There’s no doubt that Serkis’ next effort will be visually stunning, but in terms of subject matter, Warner and Embracer’s upcoming partnership is already playing things too safe.

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