The Hobbit producer: film rights to remaining Tolkien tales are “not available”

“I don't believe necessarily this is the end of the journey,” says Hobbit star Ian McKellen - but the movie's producer is not so sure

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Despite reports, it looks like we may not be seeing more of Middle Earth after all.

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The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies isn’t even out on general release yet, but fans are already wondering if they’ll get another chance to see JRR Tolkien’s works on the big screen – and they’re getting mixed signals.

Sir Ian McKellen (who plays wizard Gandalf) stoked speculation of future projects when he told reporters at the new film’s world premiere: “I don’t believe necessarily this is the end of the journey.”

“I was told by [director] Peter [Jackson], in 2001, that that was the end, that it was all over,” he said to the BBC, referencing the end of the hugely successful Tolkien-based Lord of The Rings film trilogy that he had previously been a part of. “Here we are 13 years later.”

There’s still plenty of material from JRR Tolkien’s oeuvre that could be adapted for the big screen, including The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle-Earth.

But despite McKellen’s comments, others involved in the making of the films aren’t so sure about the viability of a return trip to Middle Earth.

Speaking to RadioTimes.com on the red carpet, The Hobbit co-producer Philippa Boyens gave an emphatic “No!” to questions about whether future films would be made from other Tolkien works.

“The film rights are not available as far as we know,” she explained, “and I suspect that when they do become available, if they ever become available, they will pass into the hands of other filmmakers because I will probably be in my wheelchair.

“Professor Tolkien said that other minds should come to these stories, and he welcomed that. And I suspect that we need to do the same.” 

Sad times for the fans – still, as McKellen pointed out, the films themselves will act as a legacy for those who feel strongly for them, even if it ends here. “The movies will go on being seen, people will come to them freshly for the first time…The thing goes on living,” he said.

And of course, there’s still this last film for them to enjoy as well.

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The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies will be released on the 12th of December