There and back again, as the famous saying goes. Bilbo Baggins felt that was the theme of his life in The Hobbit, and now life is reflecting art. We are all going there and back again to the world of The Lord of the Rings. In early 2023, we learned that new live-action The Lord of the Rings movies were in the works at Warner Bros. Discovery. And now, our most recent updates reveal that Peter Jackson will once again craft these fantasy films. Additionally, we will see these new live-action The Lord of the Rings movies sooner than we think. The first of the new The Lord of the Rings films will release in 2026. (Yes, that’s 2026, not 2006, we had to check too.) It will be titled Lord of the RingsThe Hunt for Gollum and will focus on Andy Serkis’ Gollum.

What Will the New The Lord of the Rings Movie, The Hunt for Gollum, Be About?

New The Lord of the Rings movie will star Gollum and Andy Serkis
New Line Cinema

But what story will this new The Lord of the Rings movie tell? Well, Zaslav initially noted that it will “explore storylines yet to be told.” That could mean many things. But we certainly have a few ideas of what The Lord of the Rings tales we’d like to see on-screen. However, per Variety, the working title of the movie is The Lord of the Rings: The Hunt for Gollum and it will star Andy Serkis’ Gollum. Andy Serkis will also direct the movie.

“Yesssss, Precious,” shared Serkis, “The time has come once more to venture into the unknown with my dear friends, the extraordinary and incomparable guardians of Middle Earth Peter, Fran and Philippa. With Mike and Pam, and the Warner Bros team on the quest as well, alongside WETA and our filmmaking family in New Zealand, it’s just all too delicious…”   

Warner Bros. Discovery’s Mike De Luca and Pam Abdy further noted, “For over two decades, moviegoers have embraced the Lord of the Rings film trilogy because of the undeniable devotion Peter [Jackson], Fran [Walsh] and Philippa [Boyens] have shown towards protecting the legacy of Tolkien’s works, and to ensure audiences could experience the incredible world he created in a way that honors his literary vision. We are honored they have agreed be our partners on these two new films. With Andy [Serkis] coming aboard to direct Lord of the RingsThe Hunt for Gollum (working title), we continue an important commitment to excellence that is a true hallmark of how we all want to venture ahead and further contribute to the Lord of the Rings cinematic history.”

Peter Jackson Will Be Involved in the New The Lord of the Rings Movie

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Zaslav also revealed that the genius behind the first set of live-action The Lord of the Rings movies, Peter Jackson, will return for these new films. He notes that Peter Jackson and his writing partners, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens “will be involved every step of the way.” The trio is producing the Gollum movie. Walsh and Boyens will also be writing the script. They will be joined by Phoebe Gittins and Arty Papageorgiou.

Jackson, Walsh, and Boyens noted of The Lord of the Rings: The Hunt for Gollum, “It is an honour and a privilege to travel back to Middle-earth with our good friend and collaborator, Andy Serkis, who has unfinished business with that Stinker — Gollum! As life long fans of Professor Tolkien’s vast mythology, we are proud to be working with Mike De Luca, Pam Abdy and the entire team at Warner Bros. on another epic adventure!”

Recently, the movie’s creators shared a little bit more about why they chose to center Gollum in the upcoming Lord of the Rings movie.

Will We See Other The Lord of the Rings Characters or Familiar Actors in The Hunt for Gollum?

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Peter Jackson revealed a bit of insight into the decision and also noted that it’s too early to tell whether other The Lord of the Rings character will appear in The Hunt for Gollum. He said, “The Gollum/Sméagol character has always fascinated me because Gollum reflects the worst of human nature, whilst his Sméagol side is, arguably, quite sympathetic. I think he connects with readers and film audiences alike, because there’s a little bit of both of them in all of us. We really want to explore his backstory and delve into those parts of his journey we didn’t have time to cover in the earlier films. It’s too soon to know who will cross his path, but suffice to say we will take our lead from Professor Tolkien.”

Serkis also teased a bit about whether other familiar characters and their original The Lord of the Rings actors could appear in The Hunt for Gollum, noting, “That’s a difficult question to answer right at this moment in time, because we’re really in the nascent stages of what it is exactly where we’re doing, and where the story’s going to take us. So I don’t want to commit anything right now. I mean, because it’s so raw and so raw and wriggling, and we are just literally having very early state script discussions and ideas of exactly where and how we’re going to drop anchor with the character and his journey and how he is or comes into contact with other characters, and the characters that we know and don’t know. So still, I would hate to say anything that’s going to commit us at this point, because it’s literally all up for grabs.”

Would Any of the Original Actors Return for the New The Lord of the Rings Movie?

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We haven’t yet heard from too many The Lord of the Rings actors, other than Serkis, about a return in the new The Lord of the Rings movie. But Viggo Mortensen did recently reveal that he would return as Aragorn in The Hunt for Gollum if it was right for the character. Additionally, Ian McKellen shared he would happily return as Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings movie… as long as he’s alive.

Why Gollum as the Star of this New The Lord of the Rings Movie?

Additionally, Boyens added of selecting Gollum’s story, “Gollum’s story is one of the most compelling to us in terms of a character that we couldn’t go as deeply into as we wanted to before, which sounds strange when you say that, given how familiar he is to everybody. Gollum’s life span takes place in such an interesting period of Middle-earth. When the question was first asked, this was the first story we thought of. Because I can tell you, and people might not believe this, but we had zero expectations of going back to this. It wasn’t something we were looking to do, particularly. So when the question was asked, it was, what would draw you back? And it was about working with the people we we’re working with. It was also about the chance to work with Mike De Luca and Pam Abdy at the studio. Alan Horn is now back at the studio. It just felt right.”

Once the story of the movie settled on Gollum, Serkis was the natural choice for director if it wasn’t going to be Peter Jackson. Boyens adds, “We wanted him to tell the story of Gollum and the hunt for Gollum as soon as we decided, okay, that’s the story. And Pete knew he didn’t want to direct go back into the world of Middle-earth again. [Peter] really enjoyed working with Kenji Kamiyama, who directed War of the Rohirrim. As soon as Pete decided, okay, I’m not going to direct it myself, and it’s going to be Gollum’s story, I swear to God, there was no one else but Andy Serkis.”

Finally, Serkis revealed, “Gollum has always stuck with me throughout all of these years. I’ve read audio books of the trilogy and the Silmarillion and The Hobbit, so Tolkien’s world has never left me in all of that time since we did the first films. And the character particularly has remained such an enormous part of my life. So it’s absolutely thrilling to be able to go back and do a deep dive into his world again, and specifically into Gotham’s psychology. I know we’re all interested in investigating on a deeper level who that character is, and on top of that, to be able to direct and hopefully create a film which has its place within the canon, but also something that’s fresh and new and a different approach.”

The Lord of the Rings: The Hunt for Gollum Is Coming in 2026, Other New Movies on the Horizon

New Line Cinema

During Warner Bros. Discovery’s first-quarter earnings conference call, which we first saw on Variety, CEO David Zaslav dropped the precious news. He shared that Warner Bros. Discovery is “now in the early stages of script development” for the first of the new The Lord of the Rings movies. And that the company “anticipates” that The Lord of the Rings: The Hunt for Gollum will “release in 2026.”

Zaslav additionally noted, “Lord of the Rings’ is one of the most successful and revered franchises in history and presents a significant opportunity for theatrical business.” With a 2026 release date, we guess we’ll hear more about these The Lord of the Rings movies sooner rather than later. Of course, given the “opportunity” here, we wouldn’t be surprised to hear about more new The Lord of the Rings movies very soon.