So, The Hobbit 3, aka The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, has been at the top of the box office for three weeks in a row now, based on Deadline data. According to Box Office Mojo, it’s already made $220 million in the United States and another $722 million in the rest of the world, making it, like its predecessors, a huge, tremendous, success. And yet… this is the end of the road for Peter Jackson.
There’s one Middle-Earth story yet to be told, and he’ll never tell it: The Silmarillion, Tolkien’s magnum opus, published posthumously and largely put together from his notes by his son, will never be touched by Peter Jackson. The tales of Middle Earth are over, at least in his hands.
The Silmarillion Movie: An Impossible Dream
Despite the incredible success of The Hobbit film trilogy, the final great tale of Middle-Earth is going to remain beyond Jackson’s reach. And that’s probably a good thing: The Silmarillion is a very different kind of story than Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit, and it’s not nearly as well-known. For the unfamiliar, The Silmarillion is the tale of the early days of Middle-Earth, starting before its creation, and continuing through the legends of the great wars between the Elves and Morgoth (cursed be his name), Sauron’s master.
The Silmarillion covers thousands of years at least (which certainly doesn’t make a movie any easier), but the meat of it is the history of the five hundred year long First Age and the war for the Silmarils, sacred jewels Morgoth stole from the Elves. Compared to LOTR and The Hobbit, The Silmarillion feels much more… remote and alien (disclaimer: It’s one of my favorite books in the world). It’s a different kind of epic fantasy, more like a religious text than a novel. But it still has lots of stories in it that would fit into film: The tale of the Children of Hurin, or Beren and Luthien, or of the Fall of Gondolin.
Jackson could easily whip up a trilogy out of The Silmarillion. But… he can’t. Jackson isn’t allowed to make a Silmarillion movie, for the simple reason that he doesn’t own the rights.
Those rights are still firmly in the hands of Christopher Tolkien, and he is… not fond of Jackson or his take on Middle-Earth. He has explicitly said that he won’t let Jackson get the rights… and won’t sell them to anyone who might sell the rights to Jackson. He’s very protective of his father’s legacy, and it doesn’t help that the Tolkien family got a little screwed on the Lord of the Rings trilogy, financially speaking. Not a great incentive to sell off the few film rights they still own.
Personally, I call this good news: I’m no mega-fan of The Hobbit; indeed, I thought it was pretty dreadful throughout. Despite some great moments in The Hobbit, Peter Jackson’s vision of Middle Earth is very different from that in The Silmarillion. Okay, fine; he’s just too actiony. But it all works out fine, because PJ isn’t getting it: No The Silmarillion for us. The Hobbit trilogy and the Lord of the Rings trilogy are all we’re going to get for the foreseeable future.
Well, at least until they do the first remake.