Warner Bros. has confirmed that, not only will Middle-earth be returning to the big screen, but OG Lord of the Rings helmer Peter Jackson will be working on the new title, with an anticipated release date in 2026.

David Zaslav, CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, said the company is “now in the early stages of script development” for new Lord of the Rings movies, which he states will “explore storylines yet to be told.

The first film, which hails from WB and New Line Cinema, is Lord of the Rings: The Hunt for Gollum (though that’s a working title at the moment) with Andy Serkis reprising his role as the titular character, Gollum (aka Smeagol) and directing the feature. Peter Jackson and his longtime writing partners Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens will be involved every step of the way on the project, even if Jackson won’t be directing. Jackson has, of course, directed many films in JRR Tolkien’s universe: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King, as well as The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Desolation of Smaug, and The Battle of the Five Armies. Boyens and Walsh are writing the screenplay on The Hunt for Gollum. The deal in question covers two films in the franchise.

“It is an honor 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!,” Jackson, Boyens and Walsh said in a statement. “As life long fans of Professor Tolkien’s vast mythology, we are proud to be working with [WBD film chiefs] Mike De Luca, Pam Abdy and the entire team at Warner Bros. on another epic adventure!”

“Yesssss, Precious. 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,” added Serkis. “With Mike and Pam, and the Warner Bros team on the quest as well, alongside WETA and our film making family in New Zealand, it’s just all too delicious… .” 

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