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Lord of the Rings
Photo: New Line Cinema

'Lord of the Rings' is getting a horse-heavy anime prequel

A Tolkien deep-cut is riding into theaters

Written by
Andy Kryza

This year, fans are celebrating the 20th anniversary of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, as well as the seventh anniversary of not having to endure any more Hobbit films. But lest you think that the lucrative IP will lay dormant like the defeated Sauron, the beacons have been lit on a new wave of LOTR content, including a new anime from the original series’ studio.

Per Screen Rant, New Line Cinema is currently at work on Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim, an anime film penned by original series co-writer Philippa Boyens and produced by the same minds behind Netflix’s trippy The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance

The prequel film is a Tolkien deep-cut. It will take place some 250 years prior to the events of The Hobbit and involve the kingdom of Rohan, depicted in the Lord of the Rings trilogy as a noble society of equestrian warriors led by king Théoden (even though we all know Eowyn is boss)

The film will dive headlong into Tolkien lore to tell of a long, violent conflict between Rohan and a clan of wild men, with the kingdom of Gondor — home of Sean Bean’s Boromir — said to be complicit in much of the pain and suffering that springs from the war, establishing a tension between the lands that was still apparent when each made its debut in The Two Towers

The film is separate from Amazon’s high-profile, $500 million television series, currently in production and said to take place in the Second Age of Middle Earth. With the collected works of Tolkien spanning thousands of years and filmmakers like Jackson adept at transforming a few paragraphs of information into detail-rich extended narratives, Lord of the Rings represents a rare piece of pop culture whose source materials lay out a sprawling mythology that renders remakes and arbitrary sequels unnecessary (albeit inevitable).

This isn’t the first time a Tolkien property was adapted into an animated film. In 1977, Rankin/Bass — the animation studio behind Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, ThunderCats and The Last Unicorn — released a wildly psychedelic and nightmarish take on The Hobbit, followed in 1978 by a Lord of the Rings adaptation based on Fellowship and The Two Towers. Both were directed by Ralph Bakshi of Fritz the Cat and Cool World

The films suffered narratively but their vivid imagination provided the blueprint of what Middle Earth could look like on screen. Given advances in animation and the writers and animators involved, The War of the Rohirrim has the potential to further open the complex lore of Tolkien when it debuts in theaters at a yet-undetermined time. 

LOTR ranks high on our list of the 50 best fantasy movies

See what Time Out thought of the last LOTR animated film way back in 1978

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