One more ring to rule them all...
You've all seen the news about the expansion of "The Hobbit" from two to three films...
And now they've got names and dates, so we know what they'll be called and when exactly they'll come out. So when it's all said and done there will be six films, two trilogies, or a hexalogy if you count them all as one.
So the Middle-Earth series list would be:
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
The Hobbit: There And Back Again
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
After summer 2014 the series will be done, and the next question would be is this the end? Would Warner Bros. be satisfied with ending it there? No more films or anything else? Not hardly, in the words of John Wayne. In this world where international markets rule the box office and branding matters, this series is a known property and it doesn't take as much to sell it to audiences.
So what would be next? The most obvious choice would be "The Silmarillion." Now, I know that a fan asked Peter Jackson at this year's Comic-Con about that. He mentioned that Warner doesn't own the rights to that book and the Tolkien Estate isn't very happy with his adaptations of the late authors works (I really can't understand why this is). But obstacles can be overcome. Hopefully Warner can get the Estate to license the rights to the books, because the films actually help sales of the books and seeing the film. An agreement would be mutually beneficial for both parties.
But even if it happens, it doesn't mean the book would be an easy film. It is a large tome of epic tales telling the history of Middle-Earth in a sort of lyrical tale that's not set up in the same manner as the LOTR or the Hobbit. But it leaves room for more interpretation and layering of characters. But it would be an epic film if made. Most likely it wouldn't be contained in one film, so there is the possibility of another trilogy, or perhaps, a miniseries on cable? Or even an ongoing series? Something like HBO,A&E or even Netflix could be a venue to transmit/broadcast this new property.
And then there are the other products like video games, books, shirts, toys, etc. that would/could be exploited. If they can't get the rights, or even if they do get it and want to continue other avenues, then they can go other routes. After all, there have been several games that take place in the world of Tolkien that don't involve the characters from the film. Could they not produce a film series, or television series, or even an Internet series that is completely unrelated to events of the book? Something along the lines of "Tales of Middle-Earth" or "War of the Ring" type of thing? The possibilities are endless really. And do you really think that Warner's Suits would want to close the tap on this revenue stream? Think again.
There and back again, and again, and again...