…and he caught Déagol by the throat and strangled him, because the gold looked so bright and beautiful. Then he put the ring on his finger.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy was a masterpiece. The Hobbit trilogy should not have existed. Now Peter Jackson is taking another drink from the well, making a new movie called The Hunt for Gollum. Did I say “movie,” singular? My mistake: it’s going to be at least two movies, and who knows how much bloat they’ll experience before the end. One paragraph in the article triggered my gag reflex.

Fans and critics on social media immediately speculated about the new film’s plot, given that Gollum appeared to die at the end of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Appeared? May Shelob suck out your guts and spit them into a sewage pit, APPEARED? It was a key moment when Gollum fell into the lava burbling in Mt Doom. Please don’t even hint that there’s a possibility that some mindless, greedy studio executive might resurrect him. A prequel, maybe?

It doesn’t matter. I absolutely refuse to ever watch this cash grab. I’m not even tempted. The Hobbit was an adequate lesson.


  1. mordred says

    In the books the hunt foe Gollum would have been Aragorn and Gandalfs search for him between the Hobbit and the start of The Lord of the Rings, I suppose. Yes, there would be some place for a bit of fan fiction there. Million dollar special effect fan fiction.

    And a certain (now former) friend of mine honestly claimed Hollywood movies were getting worse because of “political correctnes”. I’d say it’s more because the studios have sucked every franchise dry and then reanimated it’s shriveled corpse.

  2. wonderpants says

    This really is going down the Star Wars road, isn’t it?

    In both cases, they made a critically acclaimed and beloved original 3 films, followed up by a prequel trilogy that didn’t go down at all well. Finally, they made a SW sequel trilogy that went down so badly that it made people reevaluate the prequel trilogy. It’s of course unknown yet what these new LOTR films will be like, but the Hobbit filled don’t give me much optimism.

  3. lakitha tolbert says

    Yeah, I’m not going to see this movie. I paid to see the original trilogy ,but I didn’t pay a single penny to watch The Hobbit, and when it finally came to streaming, I was glad I hadn’t. I’m not going to see this either, but it might be a prequel of how Gollum got to be Gollum, maybe, because Jackson seemed pretty fascinated by his origin story in the original trilogy?

  4. Robbo says

    I can’t wait for the adaptation of the Atari 2600 game E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial!

  5. says

    I think the problem is that (the Tolkien Estate / Chris / somebody) got annoyed at something PJ did in the original LOTR films and it was after they’d already sold him the rights to do “The Hobbit” so they decided, “You will not be allowed anything else”, to the point where the Hobbit film couldn’t even mention the names of the other two wizards (the ones that went east) in the Hobbit film because they weren’t actually in that particular book.

    And so basically PJ has no choice but to keep making shit up based only on the material he’s been sold. It’s annoying because he probably could do a decent job with pretty much anything in the Silmarillion or the 2nd Age, but they just won’t let him.

  6. says

    and on the one hand, it’s their property, so TE has the right to make these sorts of decisions, but on the other hand, given what they’ve allowed in “The Rings of Power” series, I don’t think they have a leg to stand on complaining about anything PJ did.

  7. says

    Didn’t some Ringwraiths already find Gollum first?

    They need a better spinoff than this. How about Ringwraith Origins? Or maybe a First War of the Ring trilogy? Or maybe a sequel where Aragorn and Arwen try to figure out how to simultaneously: a) Rebuild Gondor and Rohan; b) deal with thousands of undisciplined starving orcs; AND c) negotiate possession of all the land the elves are vacating in their mad rush back to their Promised Land across the western ocean (maybe while also d) arguing with various dwarves over who gets to clear and retake the Mines of Moria)?

  8. Tethys says

    Tolkien did plenty of plundering from the Sagas and Nibelungenlied to write his books, just as Wagner plundered them for his Ring Cycle.

    Gollum might be based on descriptions of various trolls, but he isn’t part of story of the ring Andvarinaut. It involves various dwarves, Loki, Sigurd, Otr, Regin the smith, and a dragon named Fafnir. Both the dragon and Otter are dwarves who can change their shape.

    There is a lot of backstory that could be fashioned into a Gollum origin story, but somehow I doubt Mr Jackson is the best choice for storytelling in the style of Tolkien.


  9. Rob Grigjanis says

    Meh, I thought the Hobbit films were better than the LotR ones. Not great, and still plagued with Jackson’s penchant for absurdly drawn out battle scenes which defy physics and logic. But I found his departures from the source more tolerable than those in LotR. And Martin Freeman was a very good Bilbo (and would have been a far better choice for Frodo).

    Jackson should have more modest aspirations. Maybe a sitcom about a hobbit and an orc who have to share an apartment.

  10. says

    Maybe a sitcom about a hobbit and an orc who have to share an apartment.

    And the orc would be a War of the Ring veteran, resentful and disappointed at how completely his army fell apart for no damn reason anyone on the field could see, drinking away his troubles every night, ranting to everyone in earshot about how sorcerers can never be trusted and will never have the bravery and integrity of warriors, and having to be taken home by his roommate. And all their neighbors would be gossiping about why a hobbit would live with an orc and worrying about the orc maybe being a post-Sauron fifth-columnist. (Would this hobbit be related to Lobelia Sackville-Baggins?) And maybe the orc gets into barroom fights with some of the surviving Ruffians…and/or maybe he bonds with them over shared contempt for sorcerers…

  11. John Morales says

    Jackson should have more modest aspirations.

    $$$. That’s the aspiration. Reasonably modest.

  12. Rob Grigjanis says

    Would this hobbit be related to Lobelia Sackville-Baggins?

    No, no! He’d be a commoner, not related to any of the Shire squirearchy. Maybe a slacker cousin of Sam Gamgee.

  13. kingoftown says

    I think the end of the last Hobbit movie implied that Legolas was going to meet up with Aragorn? I’d guess we’re getting the story of Gollum being hunted down by Aragorn and brought to Mirkwood with Legolas non-canonically tagging along so they can fill out the run-time with a few hours of Orlando Bloom defying physics while battling bad CGI orcs and middle age.I can’t imagine Viggo Mortensen is on board though so we have that recast to look forward to.

  14. kingoftown says

    Can’t deny though I’d love to see the scene of Gollum making his deal with Shelob if they include it.

  15. fentex says

    Just before visiting here I read an item announcing this which had the nauseating quote: “Lord Of The Rings is one of the most beloved franchises” from the CEO of the studio.

    I find it hard to articulate how vile I find the idea of valuing a “franchise” such that you can fantasize anyone loves it.

  16. belvederespudge says

    If you’re looking for a Youtube diversion, Lindsay Ellis’ examination of the Hobbit films is worth a watch. If you don’t care much for analysis of the films themselves, part 3 (of 2) dives into the background to the production, Warner Bros feckery and how New Zealand’s labour laws were rewritten under the cover of supporting the production.


  17. John Morales says

    fentex @21, very much so.

    Yes, Tolkien wrote it because people liked The Hobbit — definitely a children’s story — and wanted more.


    Consider, for example, the “extras” on any DVD version of a movie. Many of us will enjoy the movie in theaters, but then spend multiple extra hours watching gag reels, “behind the scenes” featurettes, or interactive explorations of sets and backstories. Though each of us may have truly loved the feature film on its own, our appreciation increases with the extra knowledge of the film’s foundation. Inside jokes are understood, “Easter eggs” are caught, and special knowledge is shared.

    The same is true for the world of Middle-Earth. J.R.R. Tolkien didn’t just set out to write a great story or two. He constructed a whole world with peoples, cultures, myths, histories, and, yes, languages. An example of this is captured in the following map combining Middle-Earth and Beleriand.


    This largely unknown portion of Middle-Earth (Beleriand) no longer exists during the time of Frodo and his contemporaries, but sets the stage for things like the initial hatred between Legolas and Gimli, the significance of Aragorn’s ring, the power of the Palantir (Saruman’s seeing stone), and the reason for the elves’ migration to the Grey Havens. Any movie watcher can see the emotion in these scenes; however, he or she won’t quite catch the full significance of these things without an understanding of the background and foundation of the stories.
    More than just a storyteller, J.R.R. Tolkien was a linguistic genius. He learned Latin, French, and German by twelve years old, and in school, he went on to learn Middle English, Old English, Finnish, Gothic, Greek, Italian, Old Norse, Spanish, Welsh, and Medieval Welsh. He also had a working knowledge (understanding the grammatical and writing systems) of Danish, Dutch, Lombardic, Norwegian, Russian, Serbian, Swedish, and ancestral forms of Germanic and Slavonic languages. Even as a boy, Tolkien went beyond real world (natural) languages, constructing the fake languages Nevbosh and Naffarin.
    This fascination with language continued into his adult life. He became a philologist by profession. Philology is a field of linguistics that focuses on how languages and words develop over time. This means that Tolkien studied old documents in dead languages to see how those languages turned into modern languages. This specialty of seeing how languages could turn into language families played directly into his creation of Middle-Earth. The true foundation of all the Middle-Earth legendarium (the collection of all Tolkien’s writings on Middle-Earth) is language.

    As Tolkien himself said:

    The invention of languages is the foundation. The ‘stories’ were made rather to provide a world for the languages than the reverse. [. . .] It is to me, anyway, largely an essay in ‘linguistic aesthetic’, as I sometimes say to people who ask me ‘what is it all about’ (Carpenter 219-220).

  18. Larry says

    They’re moving into uncharted territory with new material not written by Tolkien. There be dragons. Learn the lessons from seasons 7 and 8 of Game of Thrones. They ran out of material from the author around season 6 and quality started to dive until we reached the pits of despair and hopelessness that were those final years. Not that The Hobbit particularly followed the book but there was enough material, they could have actually made two seasons. Making it three totally degraded the legacy.

  19. microraptor says

    Sounds like a terrible idea, but at least it’s probably going to be better than Rebel Moon.

  20. chigau (違う) says

    gijoel #19
    Someone should tell PJ about Amber…
    or maybe Ringworld…

  21. says

    And speaking of postwar rebuilding, what about Mordor? Would the men of Rohan, Gondor, Harad and Rhun start fighting over how to partition a wasteland full of suddenly-unorganized orc slaves and fighters (who would at least need to be fed if no one wanted to just kill ’em all)? They’d also have lots of nice things plundered from all over Middle Earth cluttering up the ruins of Barad-Dur to fight over. I really don’t think there’d be a workable Marshall Plan for all four kingdoms to agree on. You might not get a trilogy out of it, but you could get at least one movie: Mordor: The Hot Mess Gets Hotter.

  22. John Morales says

    And speaking of postwar rebuilding, what about Mordor?

    Well, there was a whole section to do with the Shire in the actual books, but Jackson decided to just ignore it in the movie.

    Too much plot, apparently.

    So, yeah.

    LOTR, 3 books and three movies, left lotsa shit out. Great graphics. Pacy.
    tH, 1 small children’s book, 3 movies and a lot of shit added in. Most mediocre graphics. Turgid.

    Just cashing in.

  23. chrislawson says

    wrog@8 — Peter Jackson has the power to stop making Middle-Earth movies. If he can’t get a good rights deal from the Tolkien estate, then the smart thing is to abandon the project. His best movie is Heavenly Creatures, a non-franchise story based loosely on real events. He could make more like that instead of wasting his talent with further dilutions of Tolkien.

    StevoR@28– The problem with Rendezvous with Rama is it is essentially plotless, and even as an exploratory novel it does not resolve any of the big questions it poses, ending with everyone wishing they had more time to work out Rama’s mysteries. This is not a criticism. It’s one of the few novels that reflects the incomplete and unending nature of scientific investigation, but it does make it a hard sell for an expensive, special-effects-driven epic movie. I would love to see it done as a tight 4-part miniseries. I doubt it will happen, though.

  24. John Morales says

    O so very many good books still lying fallow:

    Lord of Light

    In Yana, the Touch of Undying

    The Anubis Gates

    for starters.

  25. chrislawson says

    @32– Lord of Light‘s future as a movie adaptation was destroyed by the production being used as a CIA front during the Iran hostage crisis.

  26. John Morales says

    chrislawson, yes, quite the remarkable event. Not as bad as the vaccination scam in Pakistan, but bad enough.
    But the novel’s future will remain so long as a copy exists, however deep the development hell.

    So much there that is original but yet unused.

    Hm. Three more, eh? Try another triad.

    Larry Niven — Protector
    Hal Clement — Mission of Gravity
    Harry Harrison — Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers

    Was a time that LOTR was considered unfilmable, and all efforts prior to Jackson’s were, um, less than impressive.

    So. Perhaps this is a way AI can leverage existing cultural assets.


    Something like Creatures of Light and Darkness (also Zelazny) would be kinda… um, difficult to film. Maybe.

  27. chrislawson says


    Yeah, the vax scam in Pakistan really pissed me off. It wasn’t that the CIA used a vaccine program as cover for their intelligence gathering, it was Obama bragging the fuck about it afterwards, like it was so important to him to let everyone know how clever they had been at a time when anti-vaxx sentiment had destroyed the STOMP program and other essential public health programs in North Africa.

    Yes, Mr President, I understand how clever you were, now why don’t you just shut the fuck up about it you boastful shit and enjoy your cleverness in private rather than skite about it in a way that puts the lives of low-paid public health workers at risk.

  28. chrislawson says

    Also @35–

    Protector doesn’t hold up well. I re-read it a few years ago and it’s a far too beholden to EOW-style sociobiology. The ramjet chase sequence is still pretty damn good, though. Mission of Gravity is a bit dated, but a smart story editor could turn it into a great TV series. Haven’t read that Harrison, although I like a lot of his other novels. Lord of Light is one my great disappointments — it could be a touchstone TV miniseries in the right hands, but it probably wouldn’t get up today because studios would be afraid of upsetting the Hindu nationalist movement. The other Zelazny novel that would be eminently adaptable is Eye of Cat. It has one of the smartest and most compelling action sequences I’ve ever read. So many great books, but no, let’s do another Tolkien dumpster dive.

    (The novels I really, really want to see adapted well: Disch’s Camp Concentration, Bester’s Demolished Man, and Fondly Fahrenheit, Sturgeon’s More Than Human, Le Guin’s Earthsea Quartet.)

  29. birgerjohansson says

    Maybe put the anime team behind “Frieren; After Journey’s End” on the job.
    They certainly know how to create high fantasy without it getting boring.

  30. birgerjohansson says

    Chrislawson @ 37
    A Zelazny novel that needs a film version: Eye Of Cat .

  31. birgerjohansson says

    Myself @ 40
    Sorry, I did not read your whole comment, got distracted. 🙂

  32. birgerjohansson says

    John Morales @ 38
    The last time a film version was based on a Harrison novel (Soylent Green) the film makers basically rewrote everything. Maybe the estate is less than enthusiastic for new films.

  33. rietpluim says

    Actually, I don’t think the LOTR trilogy was that good. They turned a good story into an action spectacle with little respect for the original story. Especially the acting and direction were terrible.

  34. cartomancer says

    Is “interquel” still a term people use these days?

    But I see little to get het up about. People have always done spin-offs and tie-ins and ancillary media. That chancer Publius Maro’s Homeric fan fiction did all right for itself, didn’t it?

  35. rietpluim says

    Also, almost everybody seems to underestimate the relevance of Tom Bombadil. One does not simply write the eldest creature of Middle Earth and the only character the Ring has no impact on, out of the story.

  36. Rob Grigjanis says

    rietpluim @45: Many disagree, but IMO the most glaring omissions in Jackson’s films were Bombadil and the Scouring of the Shire. Apparently, inserting a stupid little scene with Aragorn going over a cliff was more important (Oh no! Is Aragorn dead?). One among many stupid and unnecessary little “additions”.

    So much wrong in the films, but one bit that had me laughing out loud: in their Entmoot, among the oldest and wisest of beings in Middle Earth decide to go to war with Saruman. Jackson’s version? The Ents decide not to go to war, but a one-minute pep talk from a couple of punk-ass hobbits changes their minds.

  37. Pierce R. Butler says

    Does anybody really expect modern Hollywood to do better with classic sf than Starship Troopers, Soylent Green, I Am Legend, etc? Committees of suits poison everything.

  38. says

    I won’t be seeing this either. I liked the books and the first three films, I found the Hobbit films to be inoffensive but also unremarkable. I have no desire to see this.
    Even if the filmmakers do not want to make original stories for fear of them not being profitable, there are enough fantasy books with large-ish fanbases.

    I would love to see a good adaptation of Zelazny’s Amber series. There’s ten books with excellent storytelling full of magic and fighting that could work well in an action movie. In ten action movies in fact.
    Or the Earthsea series, that could work, if made well.
    Belgariad or Elenium are good stories too, even though they do have problematic elements and the author was less than a stellar persona, to put it mildly. But movie adaptations change slightly anyway so the problematic elements could be changed whilst leaving the good bits in.
    If one has a hankering for fantastic comedy in a TV series, Another Fine Myth could do well in that medium. Not to mention the Discworld, which was adapted into several good-ish movies and stage plays and I bet fans would love to see more and better.

    But nope, “established franchises” that start with good storytelling need to be milked by prequels, sequels, spinoffs, and jackoffs until they become bland, repetitive, and boring. Or we get the Witcher series that progressively gets worse and worse as it departs from the source material more and more until there’s nothing left from what the original books were saying, the same malady that allegedly plagued The Game of Thrones.

    Well, I can live without films.

  39. woodsong says

    Another problem I had with the LotR films (haven’t seen The Hobbit, don’t plan to), in addition to the absence of Tom B. and the changed ending (no Scouring? That’s not how the books were written!), was the changed interpretation of the events that led the Fellowship into Moria. In the books, the mountain Caradhras had its own personality and power–and it did NOT like people trying to climb it. The weather that prevented their crossing was directly attributed to the will of the mountain itself. P. J. put control of that into Saruman’s hands, directly. Combined with the Ents being portrayed as out of touch with events on their borders, it was clear that P. J. was stripping all of the Old Powers of as much as he could get away with, and that pissed me off.
    Don’t get me started on the extra love scenes…

  40. says


    Peter Jackson has the power to stop making Middle-Earth movies

    but if he does, I have the power to not go see them. And if he fails to make money on them, I lose nothing.

    For me, the issue is not the bad movies that are getting made, but the good movies that aren’t, and for that it’s the Tolkien estate that’s the blockage. And whatever the dispute was, it’s so unbelievably petty. PJ’s films have made them a metric crapload of money; you’d think they could cut him some slack.

    (I’ll admit there are occasional annoyances about PJ; he’s still a little too much a horror director at heart. Every so often there’ll be a shock scene that I’m sure he thought was cool (e.g., the Bilbo and Frodo scene at Rivendell where B asks to see the ring one more time) where evidently nobody around him had the wherewithal to stand up to him and say, “um, Pete, this really doesn’t work here. We’re not making a horror film.”

    …. also think The Scouring of the Shire is an essential part of the story, but I guess that’s going to have to wait for the miniseries treatment…)

  41. says

    Also: Fionavar Tapestry (Guy Gavriel Kay)

    i.e., if you want good LoTR-style material without having to deal with the Tolkien Estate and also updated for modern audience expectations (e.g., strong female characters, ensemble cast)

  42. fentex says

    No one is going to make Protector (or World Of Ptavvs et al).

    The best those can hope for is a TV series based on the whole of Known Space.

    Ringworld is the only ‘property’ of Larry’s that’s odds on to ever be made into a movie – and if designed as a trilogy or the like it could easily incorporate parts of his short stories.

    But I imagine Footfall or Lucifer’s Hammer will get their feet in the door before that.

  43. John Morales says

    As I understand it, it’s a huge financial commitment just to get a movie to the point of being made.

    They are risk-averse, and anything new is a risk.

    Franchises are like gold; no new risk, cash cow for years.

  44. rietpluim says

    @Rob Grigjanis #46
    It seems that Tolkien himself was a bit ambiguous about Tom Bombadil, but he was quite clear about the relevance of the Scouring of the Shire, so that is a just point you’re making.
    To be fair, the first time I read LOTR, I too thought the Scouring of the Shire was an anticlimax. But later I learned to appreciate it as the perfection of the plot and the development of the Hobbits’ characters.

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