We’re nearing the end of The Hobbit trilogy as The Battle of the Five Armies is slated to arrive in December 2014. The film will culminate director Peter Jackson’s 13-year-long, six-film voyage into J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth, and judging by the billions of dollars both Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit have generated worldwide at the box office, there is no end to the thirst among moviegoers for all things Tolkien. With that in mind, to help fill that Gollum void, two different movie studios are planning competing J.R.R. Tolkien biopics.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Attractive Films is currently working on Tolkien & Lewis that will focus on the friendship between the Lord of the Rings mastermind and The Chronicles of Narnia author C.S. Lewis. The two writers inspired each other both artistically and theologically, but religion and paranoia soon tear the two friends apart. The film is not exactly Legolas firing arrows into Orcs but it is still an interesting topic for a period drama. Con Air and The Expendables 2 director Simon West is currently tabbed to direct that biopic.
Meanwhile, Fox Searchlight is planning their own film simply titled Tolkien, based on a script by David Gleeson, that is a more straightforward look at the legendary linguist-turned-writer. However, neither biopic is a sure thing: The Tolkien estate has previously prevented other attempts to bring J.R.R.’s life to cinemas, like when they nixed a film called Mirkwood about Tolkien’s experience as a codebreaker during World War II.
The film industry often makes it a habit of simultaneously planning competing biopics. Take for instance the two Jeff Buckley films that were greenlit at the same time: Greetings From Tim Buckley starring Penn Badgley and Mystery White Boy with Reeve Carney. Badgley’s Buckley won the race to completion and went straight-to-video while Carney’s Buckley is reportedly still in production. There was also the competing Truman Capote biopics Infamous and Capote, and the double up of 2012 Alfred Hitchcock movies Hitchcock and The Girl. Ironically, actor Toby Jones portrayed Capote/Hitchcock in the lesser of both biopics. If he’s cast as Tolkien, bet on the other J.R.R. film succeeding.