It turns out there was more than one One Ring after all.
New Line, the studio that produced the Lord of the Rings trilogy of hit movies based on the classic fantasy novels, has decided that, in addition to producing a two-part movie version of The Hobbit, the Rings “prequel” written by author J. R. R. Tolkien, they will produce a trilogy of three sequels.
The first of the three movies, scheduled for a 2011 release, will be called The Lord of the Rings 2: The Unring.
The storyline, which departs dramatically from the storyline mapped out by Tolkien, has a second One Ring, the Unring, surfacing in Middle Earth, even more powerful than the first. Frodo and Gandolf, who left for the Undying Lands to live the life of immortals at the end of The Lord of the Rings, must return to Middle Earth to destroy this second One Ring.
“As wonderful as the first three movies are, we felt they left the ending sort of open-ended,” said New Line President Toby Emmerich. “This second trilogy will fill in the blanks. Plus, it will have more dinosaurs.”
Peter Jackson, who directed the first three Rings movies and is producing The Hobbit, is not involved in the Second Ring sequels. He has so far refused to comment on the project, but Variety reports a friend saying he thinks the idea is “really, really dumb.”
That said, Elijah Wood and Sean Astin, who played Frodo and Sam, have signed on, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
But Ian McKellen has passed on the role of Gandolf, so that character will be played by Henry Winkler.
Orlando Bloom was reportedly the first to agree to the film.
In a nod to changing sensibilities since The Lord of the Rings novels were written, Rosie Cotton, Sam’s wife at the end of the Rings trilogy, will accompany Frodo and Sam on their second quest, not Merry and Pippin. Sarah McLeod, who played the role of Rosie in the first film trilogy, will be replaced by Kate Beckinsale.
Sauron will return as well, though not in the form of a giant eye that looks out over Middle Earth, as before. The time around, he was appear as a massive, levitating ear.
Chris Columbus will direct.
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