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Silmarilion rights

Mr. Arkenstone (isaac)
Tol Eressea

Aug 18 2013, 3:58pm

Post #1 of 21 (626 views)
Silmarilion rights Can't Post

Ok I suposse that this has been discussed milions of times but I have a question and I would love to hear what you have to say

The question is this: Since Christopher Tolkien has the last word over the rights and we know that he doesn´t want a film to be done (at least by PJ or Disney) does Tolkien´s grandsons something to say about it? one of them appeared on ROTK as an extra didn´t he?

Now lets the fireworks start!

The flagon with the dragon has the brew that is true!


Aug 18 2013, 8:27pm

Post #2 of 21 (381 views)
A summary of the "rights" issue... [In reply to] Can't Post

...may be found here. In brief, Christopher Tolkien is the sole literary executor regarding the rights to all works other than LotR and The Hobbit, which JRRT sold.

It is unknown how the rights, which are owned by Tolkien Estate the will be managed when Christopher (who is in his 80's) dies.

(This post was edited by Elizabeth on Aug 18 2013, 8:30pm)

Mr. Arkenstone (isaac)
Tol Eressea

Aug 18 2013, 8:35pm

Post #3 of 21 (346 views)
Thanks for that Elizabeth! [In reply to] Can't Post

I spect Cristopher changes his mind I really do, I didnt find that any of the movies in the final average make a disrespectfull aproachment to tolkien´s works, thus at the end they have made a lot more of people get interested in the books after watching the movies, and well, just to find out that the books are better!Smile

The flagon with the dragon has the brew that is true!

Grey Havens

Aug 18 2013, 11:03pm

Post #4 of 21 (339 views)
What matters... [In reply to] Can't Post

Is Christopher Tolkien's opinion, not yours (or mine, for that matter, I like all of PJs adaptations). He hated all of PJ's Lord of the Rings films, an opinion he expressed in no uncertain terms in a 2012 interview with Le Monde.

"They eviscerated the book by making it an action movie for young people aged 15 to 25," Christopher says regretfully. "And it seems that The Hobbit will be the same kind of film."

(English version of interview available here):


Hamfast Gamgee
Grey Havens

Aug 19 2013, 8:51am

Post #5 of 21 (309 views)
Didn't one of Christopher's sons [In reply to] Can't Post

Appear in one of the films as a soldier of Gondor?

Welsh hero

Aug 19 2013, 9:38am

Post #6 of 21 (312 views)
I'm sure I read somewhere that he has never seen the films [In reply to] Can't Post

(and not saying he's wrong about the films) but how does he know what the films are?


Twitter: @IrfonPennant
middle earth timeline FB: https://www.facebook.com/MiddleEarth1


Aug 19 2013, 9:44am

Post #7 of 21 (308 views)
Royd Tolkien was in the film. [In reply to] Can't Post

But he is Michael Tolkien's grandson, which makes him the great-grandson of Tolkien.



Aug 19 2013, 12:00pm

Post #8 of 21 (289 views)
Probably only saw quick glimpses [In reply to] Can't Post

And from that he judged the film solely on those small scenes he PROBABLY watched. Maybe he did watch them all, but still, the story stills stay true to Tolkien's themes throughout the books. And of course there'll be action. With an epic fantasy film you have to have it... There was action in the books, too (not as grand and epic in detail, mind), so did Christopher just expect them to forsake battles (when the event is called the WAR of the Ring)?

Lover of Medieval Fantasy
"I know what I must do. It's just... I'm afraid to do it."


Aug 19 2013, 7:37pm

Post #9 of 21 (273 views)
My thoughts on the Silmarillion being adapted are already well known (I won't bore you unless you ask) but these interviews may be of interest [In reply to] Can't Post




As for Tolkien's view there are some pretty startling similarities between the Zimmerman 1957 script of LOTR and PJ's:


The Talking Purse is Awesome, deal with it.

But he isn't quite as aweome as Cirdan.

Fredeghar Wayfarer

Aug 19 2013, 8:02pm

Post #10 of 21 (262 views)
Action scenes [In reply to] Can't Post

I enjoy Jackson's adaptations but he does tend to beef up the action scenes and focus on them far more than the books did. For example, the cave-troll never actually gets into the Chamber of Mazarbul in the book. But in the film, it's a big action scene. A reference to the "wolves of Isengard" in the book turned into an action scene involving wargs attacking the Rohirrim. A brief mention of mysterious stone-giants became a major action set piece in AUJ. And so forth.

What you have to remember is that Christopher Tolkien is from an earlier generation and was an Oxford professor, like his father. He's likely not fond of loud, bombastic action movies. He tends to focus more on the literary themes, the poetry and style, and the secondary world creation of his father's work. As such, I can understand why he dislikes Hollywood and the Jackson films. His ideal Lord of the Rings movies would probably have had a few battles but would have focused more on the emotional impact on the characters and less on how cool it is to see Legolas surf down the trunk of an Oliphaunt.

As for The Silmarillion, I'm of two minds. I'd love for the material to be referenced in the films so that the writers wouldn't have to dance around it and we could get a fuller picture of Middle-earth. But I understand Christopher's point. It would be very difficult to adapt The Silmarillion into a movie without completely destroying or altering it. And the changes to the Hobbit movies have made me a little ambivalent towards Jackson.

Tol Eressea

Aug 19 2013, 8:51pm

Post #11 of 21 (262 views)
Not to seem facetious - [In reply to] Can't Post

- but does anyone know whether the Estate has been approached about the film rights to Tolkien's other works? (inc. Silm).

I don't suppose we'd hear if Warner Bros., say, had asked to buy the rights, and were politely declined.


Aug 19 2013, 9:07pm

Post #12 of 21 (243 views)
That is a very good and interesting question...I haven't heard anything [In reply to] Can't Post

But let's be brutal nine out of ten people wouldn't have heard of the Silmarillion, much less Roverandom or The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun-even on TORn there are many fans who haven't read beyonfdThe Hobbit and LOTR- the other books don't exactly scream commercial cinema do they?

Personally I find the idea of making a film loosely based on a unfinished book composed of notes and drafts pothumously decades after an author's death to cash in rather distasteful but that's just me.

Maybe Kristin can shed some light if we ask nicely?

I have to admit though I can actually imagine Saul Zanetz flying to france in person to physically wrest the manuscripts from Christopher...

The Talking Purse is Awesome, deal with it.

But he isn't quite as aweome as Cirdan.

Mr. Arkenstone (isaac)
Tol Eressea

Aug 19 2013, 9:42pm

Post #13 of 21 (230 views)
Please "bore" me [In reply to] Can't Post

I would like to know!

The flagon with the dragon has the brew that is true!

Mr. Arkenstone (isaac)
Tol Eressea

Aug 19 2013, 9:49pm

Post #14 of 21 (245 views)
Aww it was Royd! [In reply to] Can't Post

But for me, that put thing under a diferent light, Idont know if the heritanceof the rights goes from one generation to the other, but having him, on the film, Idont know, it brings to thefuture another dimension

The flagon with the dragon has the brew that is true!


Aug 19 2013, 10:10pm

Post #15 of 21 (251 views)
I think that things could easily change over time re: The Silmarillion rights. [In reply to] Can't Post

But it is totally out of our hands and all we can do is wait and see. As things stand, the lack of possibility has been pointed out more than clearly so everyone can avoid the trouble of wasting their time and energy on trying for a while, I think - unless people have time and energy to spend on the kind of high-powered social maneuvering and sky-high price tags that would be involved.

In the mean time, I do note that permission is granted for some projects like "The Hunt for Gollum" so it seems like there is a network of privilege based on trust that trumps everything else.

It's more than clear to me that this whole argument is just so pointless.

Tol Eressea

Aug 19 2013, 10:17pm

Post #16 of 21 (241 views)
Can you tell us [In reply to] Can't Post

where you heard or read that the makers of 'The Hunt for Gollum' have sought, or obtained any permissions from the Estate?



Aug 19 2013, 10:22pm

Post #17 of 21 (244 views)
Hint I'm not in favour of the silmarillion being adapted... [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm going to be lazy an copy and paste the links...I do have a tendecy to ramble (see my famous 60 page essay on Cirdan for proof) when I'm bored/tired/angry/tipsy (one or more these can generally be applied when I'm online) so these posts may not make much sense...and I'm probably worng on half the counts...enjoy or not you choice.

-Just my ill informed Opinions, which may or may not change when I finally get roudnt o re reading the book



Do I want Peter Jackson to direct The Silmarillion film In a one Word No.

For several long winded confused reasons:

For starters Jackson has spent over a decade immersed in the world of Middle Earth and frankly seemed a little bored by the time the hobbit came out-he never really wanted to direct it in the first place, by his own admission he is a casual fan of the books (I’m not even sure if he has read The Silmarillion-Phillipa Boyens one of the Hobbit/LOTR screenwriters and supposedly the Tolkien expert hasn’t read The Silmarillion in over 20 years) and is all likelihood wouldn’t want to be tied solely to this franchise-none of his non Tolkien films have been massive commercial hits (with the exception of King Kong) and in some cases commercial misfires, in all likelihood he’d rather prove himself as a filmmaker rather than spend time re- treading old ground, for all my issues with him as filmaker it would do him, and weta a disservice if they are fmaous for just one franchise.

But most importantly he can't make The Silmarillion for the foreseeable future for one simple reason-because the rights are held by the Tolkien estate.
The Tolkien estate is a small family run organisation headed by Tolkien’s oldest son and literary executor Christopher who edited The Silmarillion for publication-the book was essentially Tolkien’s life work comprised after his death from over 60 years of drafts and notes (most Tolkien scholars’s agree he knows his father’s wishes and personality better than any other person alive or dead) in sentimental value alone I doubt C.Tolkien would want to sell the rights, especially since a film would likely go into much more detail than the book, and likely replacing a viewer’s own images of the book in the process-all too often a film can arguably sideline the book (especially one as complex as The Silmarillion)-look at James Bond, and its likely Christopher (who later admitted to making mistakes in the editing of the book) fears this.

Christopher Tolkien shared his views on the Lord of the Rings films in this recent interview:

http://www.worldcrunch.com/culture-society/my-father-039-s-quot-evisce rated-quot-work-son-of-hobbit-scribe-j.r.r.-tolkien-finally-speaks-out /hobbit-silmarillion-lord-of-rings/c3s10299/#.UMCVFpPjnfY

Given how they are expanding The Hobbit (a simple children’s book actually written to entertain Christopher and his siblings as a bedtime story) into three long adult orientated films, I wouldn’t be surprised if his views have grown more embittered.

Admittedly Christopher Tolkien is nearly 90 and has never taken much interest in Modern culture, but his eventual death will not make any difference to the likelihood of films being made from any more of Tolkien's works. It is the Tolkien Estate which controls the rights to all his literary works published and unpublished; this is a small group of people from the family (from what I remember all of them are in their 40’s or above so they wouldn’t likely be influenced by the films that much anyway), all with a shared commitment -- Christopher is currently the chair, but he will be succeeded by his son Adam, who shares his views:


The position of the Tolkien Estate is essentially that they exist to protect and promote JRRT's literary works and are opposed to these being adapted to other media-they have taken legal action to stop gambling machines and merchandising corrupting the themes of Tolkien’s books in the past, and have resisted attempts for publishers to make works ‘inspired’ by Middle Earth. Much of the money made from sales of the books is channelled into charities, so the estate wouldn’t likely be able to manage a larger workload or the increased exposure more films would bring-they have no interest in them, and no experience so a film with them producing wouldn’t necessarily be a good thing even if they agreed to it

JRRT himself intensely disliked film and drama (he thought such adaptions cheapened the literay value of the original works); he only sold the movie rights to TH and LOTR during his lifetime because he urgently needed the money, and was under the impression the books were unfilmable anyway-how would he know they would still be read 50 years later?. Incidentally he was able to pass critiques on the script of one attempted film of LOTR in 1957, the script though terrible bears some striking resemblances to Peter Jacksons:


The rights he sold allowed full creative control to the filmmakers-Tolkien had no real say in marketing or casting, and only would receive a small amount of the box office gross , the estate actually wound up having to sue New Line cinema for the small amount of royalties they were owed for The Lord of the Rings films, and reportedly have a rather embittered relationship as a result-they are actually engaged in another lawsuit with the Zaul Zaenetz company at the moment (they hold the film rights to LOTR and The Hobbit) so regardless of who wins or what changes If there are more films, it won’t be with the same studio or financiers.

(Peter Jackson actually offered the estate an advisory position on the Lord of the Rings films, but they turned hi down, afraid that such a commitment would publically endorse the film, and they demanded full creative control which Jackson denied them-so essentially there is bad blood between the two parties)

So essentially based on the Estates experience with Warner Brothers and New Line, plus the consequences of the commercialization of the Tolkien works, the pressure and intrusion into their private lives they have zero interest in dealing with filmmakers ever again. They did authorize a few non-profit fan films ("Born of Hope" and "The Hunt for Gollum") but say right on their website that no films will be made of any more of Tolkien's works for the foreseeable future.

Admittedly at some point, The Silmarillion and Tolkien's other works will go into the public domain, but this is many decades hence. The Sil is under copyright in the US until 2064 or later (Christopher Tolkien actually wrote a few sections to fill in the blanks so is a co-author of sorts), and the other works for as long or longer. When they are in the public domain, then films can be made – but it is impossible to know if the interest or demand for more Tolkien inspired films will still be around the
The Tolkien Estate's official site even addresses The Children of Hurin, since the work was released within recent history (and as an expansion of one of the Silmarillion’s chapters/stories is generally considered the most filmable):


Can I / someone else write / complete / develop my / their own version of one of these unfinished tales ? (or any others)

The simple answer is NO.
You are of course free to do whatever you like for your own private enjoyment, but there is no question of any commercial exploitation of this form of "fan-fiction".

Also, in these days of the Internet, and privately produced collectors’ items for sale on eBay, we must make it as clear as possible that the Tolkien Estate never has, and never will authorize the commercialisation or distribution of any works of this type.

The Estate exists to defend the integrity of J.R.R. Tolkien’s writings. Christopher Tolkien's work as his father’s literary executor has always been to publish as faithfully and honestly as possible his father's completed and uncompleted works, without adaptation or embellishment.

Are there any plans to produce a feature film from The Children of Húrin ?

There are no plans of this nature in the foreseeable future.

As for my (biased) thoughts:

I love The Sillmarillion, but I'm glad PJ will never make it, he is too commercial a filmmaker and the story (and lanaguage)is too archaic and complex to be faithfully translated into modern cinema-anyway almost everything that connects it to LOTR was missed out in the films, and with no hobbits or gandalf (instead you have incest murder, self serving immortals and heavy religous imagery) they'd probably come up with some dreadful fan fiction to sell it as part of the Lord of the Rings franchise (admit it, it is a difficult book to read), if it were made (which I sincerely hope not) I'd rather see another director *Terrence Malick, Hayao Myazaki* have a crack at it, and would want the tolkien estate to be directly involved in the scripting (it was after all tolkien's lifework and he died before any guarantee of publication was given), but as far as I can see after the Jackson films, there is no way it could be filmed or financed without serious rewrites or expanson utterly missing the point or purpose of the story in the process. A faithful film would bore cinemagoers, a non faithful film would flop.

In short My feelings can be summed up by the following article:


You mentioned the rights issues with adapting The Silmarillion as a series of films. If the Tolkien estate were amenable to such an endeavor, do you think its numerous stories would translate well to film? Are there any stories from The Silmarillion that you’d personally like to see adapted?

I think adapting any portion of The Silmarillion would be substantially more complicated–and controversial–than adapting The Hobbit was. The Biblical tone of much of the work is likely untranslatable to film, as is the sense of narrative remove and the vast swaths of time involved. I think an adaptation of The Silmarillion that is true to the superlative creative core of that specific text, while also in keeping with Tolkien’s broader vision of Middle Earth, would probably look something like Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life (2011)–in other words, it would require experimental shooting and narrative techniques and would be panned by most of those inclined to enjoy Hollywood’s present, big-budget take on the epic. So much of what seems dry and factual on the page would need to be presented as ethereal and impressionistic on the silver screen, and I don’t think Tolkien fans would have the patience for it.

To the extent the stories of The Silmarillion are, in situ, a mythological haze that hangs invisibly over Middle Earth–reified in song and statue, yes, but never touched, in their essence, except in the waking and sleeping visions of individual dwarves, elves, goblins, orcs, wizards, and men–you wouldn’t want to falsely crystallize them into what could easily look like a Middle Earth documentary. Shall we tell the story of the Founding of the World as though it were the Battle of the Pelennor Fields? Reimagine Valinor using a simply more sumptuous version of the existing Rivendell set? Can we speak of the beings in The Silmarillion, let alone portray them in film, as just grander versions of the Heroes of the Fellowship? No; if you’re going to cast a film almost entirely with gods, godlike creatures, and legendary personae, you have to employ a visual style that establishes these entities and the events they produce and move through as being somehow beyond our immediate understanding. Jackson would likely not be the appropriate director for such a work, as too many expectations incongruous with such an adaptation already attach, even now, to his projects. We would need, instead, a director, and a screenwriter, with whom our expectations would run much closer to what we’d call an “art house film.”

So I guess I’d say that, failing those prerequisites being met, I don’t think I’d want to see The Silmarillion adapted at all. And so I can’t predict which stories from the book I’d most want to see adapted, as the style of adaptation I’d consider most appropriate would constitute an artistic vision well beyond (at least in cinematic terms) my present understanding or my ability to anticipate.

Rambling I know but I was bored and hey,…you asked.

The Talking Purse is Awesome, deal with it.

But he isn't quite as aweome as Cirdan.

Tol Eressea

Aug 19 2013, 10:56pm

Post #18 of 21 (228 views)
A quick correction, and a question - [In reply to] Can't Post

- Christopher is Ronald and Edith's youngest son, not their eldest.

- can you tell us where you heard that the Estate demanded full creative control of Jackson's movies? I've never heard of that; and it doesn't sound like them at all. Why on earth would the Tolkien family want to go into the movies business?


Aug 19 2013, 11:04pm

Post #19 of 21 (227 views)
Ah my mistake...I'll admit honestly I can't remember where I read that... [In reply to] Can't Post

I was having a rather heated argument with a friend about this a few weeks back and that paragraph was merely copied from an email I sent-I remember reading it in news article or on a forum (The Other One Ring possibly) but I couldn't tell you where ( I did say my opinions were ill informed...)

Admittedly as my ramblings will probably attest to 75% of what you read on the internet is often a load of nonsense.

I guess it would be an attempt at a double bluff, this was back in the very early days when Jackson first approached the studios, from what I remember reading essentially it seemed C.Tolkien didn't fully believe in the projects chances, so wanted a full say in things at the start, when Jackson moved forward without him, I guess it was an attempt at persuading him to stop i.e. he approached them for assistance they turned him down, but didn't see Jackson moving on anyway, an ultimatium of sorts.

Perhaps I'm wrong (quite proabably actually) but I'm pretty sure I had read this elsewhere before...and as one of the oldies (no offense Wink) of TORn surely you would know all the ins and outs of the story? (I didn't discover Tolkien till 2002 so I missed all this drama)

The Talking Purse is Awesome, deal with it.

But he isn't quite as aweome as Cirdan.

(This post was edited by malickfan on Aug 19 2013, 11:11pm)

Kristin Thompson

Aug 23 2013, 2:58pm

Post #20 of 21 (160 views)
First, I quite agree [In reply to] Can't Post

None of Tolkien's other works has anything near the popular appeal of the two hobbit novels. People on these boards keep assuming that there's a studio out there that wants to make THE SILMARILLION or some other work into a movie. I doubt it very much.

Second, if a studio did approach the Tolkien Estate about rights to make a SILMARILLION film and got turned down, we would probably never hear about it. So the basic answer is, we don't know. We should also keep in mind that studios are constantly buying options to adapt works and then letting the options lapse. A lot of screenwriters make a living on options and never have a script actually produced. So even if a studio did somehow get permission from the Estate to make a film, it might never happen.

Third, I think Saul Zaentz is about the last person to whom the Estate would sell further movie rights.Wink

Kristin Thompson

Aug 23 2013, 3:05pm

Post #21 of 21 (230 views)
The HUNT FOR GOLLUM makers didn't approach the Estate [In reply to] Can't Post

But at the "Return of the Ring" event last year, the filmmakers said they did approach Saul Zaentz. As I recall, he grudgingly said they could make their film, but they could not charge anything for showing it. Also they were forced to agree that they would not make another fanfilm based on Tolkien. I'm not sure that condition could be legally binding. There still hasn't been any legal proceedings (as far as I know) that has determined whether fan-generated fics, art, films, etc. are fair use. The fact that some studios have actually run fanfic contests (as Warners did with Harry Potter) would suggest a tacit acknowledgement that such things are legal, as would the fact that so many fics exist without the studios having taken measures to have them suppressed. But it's a fuzzy area.


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