Tolkien biopic reportedly in development

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Tolkien biopic reportedly in development

Post by Eldorion on Fri Nov 22, 2013 4:00 am

This just in from the LA Times, Fox Searchlight is working on a biopic of Tolkien called Tolkien, written by this guy.

“Tolkien,” as the project is tentatively called, will examine the author’s life, particularly his formative years at Pembroke College and as a soldier in World War I, and how it influenced him and his work, according to a person familiar with the project who was not authorized to talk about it publicly.

David Gleeson, a Tolkien superfan and scholar of sorts about the Middle-earth creator, is currently working on the script. The movie will be produced by Peter Chernin ‘s Chernin Entertainment (“The Heat,” “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”) and set up at Fox Searchlight.
Standard disclaimer about anonymous sources aside, this could be an interesting project.  Honestly I'm a little surprised that there have been no Tolkien biopics made before, not even for television.  Tolkien certainly lived a fascinating life, but I'm not familiar with any of David Gleeson's work, so I don't know how well-suited he is to a project like this.  Speaking of which, where have we heard the "superfan and scholar of sorts" line before? Laughing

For those not in the know, Fox Searchlight has absolutely nothing to do with New Line, Warner Bros., or any of the companies that have worked on the Hobbit and LOTR films.  I'm not clear on the rules regarding biopics, but I don't think they need approval from Zaentz or the Tolkien Estate to move forward with this.  The guy who wrote Mirkwood got into trouble with the Tolkien Estate, but that was an explicitly fictional story using Tolkien as a character, not a dramatization of his actual life.
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Re: Tolkien biopic reportedly in development

Post by bungobaggins on Fri Nov 22, 2013 4:09 am

This could be pretty good, and I'd like to see a biopic, but I said the same thing about The Hobbit movie. Rolling Eyes  At least they won't be able to turn his life into an action story.

Eldorion wrote:Fox Searchlight has absolutely nothing to do with New Line, Warner Bros., or any of the companies that have worked on the Hobbit and LOTR films.

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Re: Tolkien biopic reportedly in development

Post by RA on Fri Nov 22, 2013 5:33 am

Sounds really neat.

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Re: Tolkien biopic reportedly in development

Post by malickfan on Fri Nov 22, 2013 5:13 pm

He's one of the screenwriters of Cowboys and Aliens.
Not sure about this, could be really tacky with Hollywood involvement-and let's face Tolkien lead a rather boring life I'd hate to see a cinematic adaption jumping on the PJ bandwagon with some fan fiction action film.

BUT if they did get some reputable Tolkien scholars on as advisors-Verlyn Flieger or Hammond and Scull I'd be intrigued at least.

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Re: Tolkien biopic reportedly in development

Post by Eldorion on Fri Nov 22, 2013 5:15 pm

I read it as that too, but I looked closer and apparently he actually wrote a film called Cowboys & Angels, which came out like a decade ago.

I was really worried about the Cowboys & Aliens thing at first though; that movie was really bad. Laughing
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Re: Tolkien biopic reportedly in development

Post by Mrs Figg on Fri Nov 22, 2013 5:23 pm

this sounds interesting, I wonder if it will be like that film with Johnny Depp about JM Barrie, Peter Pan. 'Finding Neverland'. with flashbacks and artistic goings on.

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Re: Tolkien biopic reportedly in development

Post by Eldorion on Fri Nov 22, 2013 5:26 pm

I'm not sure. I saw Finding Neverland once, but I was like ten and the sound on the DVD was wonky so I really hated it. Laughing I might enjoy it more now, though.
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Re: Tolkien biopic reportedly in development

Post by malickfan on Fri Nov 22, 2013 5:38 pm

On the other hand if it's focussing on WW1 this would probably be the only time we could see the Book of Lost Tales dramtised on screen.

Give it three days and they'll be a facebook campaign for Jackson to direct this as well....


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Re: Tolkien biopic reportedly in development

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Fri Nov 22, 2013 5:41 pm

they'll be a facebook campaign for Jackson to direct this as well- Malick

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Re: Tolkien biopic reportedly in development

Post by halfwise on Fri Nov 22, 2013 5:42 pm

Damn Malick, you beat me to it by 3 minutes.

I think the very thought would send Christopher Tolkien to his grave: JRR's life isn't copyrighted.

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Re: Tolkien biopic reportedly in development

Post by malickfan on Fri Nov 22, 2013 5:50 pm

Actually i'm kinda hopeful he does direct it based on a boyens script-it would prove once or for all how knowledgeable they are as fans.

That's a good point-there is no way the Tolkien etsate would authorize this...

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Re: Tolkien biopic reportedly in development

Post by Bluebottle on Fri Nov 22, 2013 5:55 pm

Now how does one write a one handed albino orc into the the First World War.... scratch 

I'll leave that to Boyens and Walsh I think.

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Re: Tolkien biopic reportedly in development

Post by Eldorion on Fri Nov 22, 2013 6:02 pm

Does anyone know if biopics require the approval of the subject or their estate? My extremely limited understanding is that approval is not required, but if you go ahead without cooperating with the subject, you stand a pretty good chance of getting sued for defamation if you do something to piss them off.
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Re: Tolkien biopic reportedly in development

Post by Bluebottle on Fri Nov 22, 2013 6:13 pm

No, there's no copyright on reality. Though the estate is of course under no obligation to share things like diaries and personal writings which they have in their possession. And the way Tolkien has described his own life in any such writings might be subject to copyright.

Defamation is of course a different question. The worth of the brand Tolkien has become is considerable, and if any original writing by the biopic makers were to hurt that brand there would probably be grounds for several different types of legal actions by the estate.

(American/British law is not really an area of expertise of mine though and somehow I doubt we will see a case for the fjordlandian courts. Wink  )

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Re: Tolkien biopic reportedly in development

Post by Eldorion on Fri Nov 22, 2013 6:42 pm

Thanks Bluebottle. Smile That sounds pretty reasonable; I'd imagine it's not dissimilar here.
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Re: Tolkien biopic reportedly in development

Post by Bluebottle on Fri Nov 22, 2013 6:53 pm

No problem Eldo. Smile The copyright rules are mostly based on international agreements so they would be quite similar. The defemation issues and libel laws and such vary a lot more from country to country. So I'm more uncertain on them.

To elucidate the point of using Tolkiens own writings and descriptions of his life. Imagen someone was making a movie of the life of Michelangelo. Now the commonly known history would be exempt from copyright, but if you based it on a modern biographers work on Michelangelo you would be in breach of his copyright if you didn't of course get to some sort of agreement with him. Don't know if that was clearer or not.

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Re: Tolkien biopic reportedly in development

Post by Tinuviel on Fri Nov 22, 2013 7:10 pm

Sort of relevant, to day is the anniversary of C.S. Lewis's death. There's a nice bit in the article with Tolkien offering to take Lewis's step son under his care if anything should happen to him

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/cs-lewis-in-the-shadow-of-jfks-death-8955470.html

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Re: Tolkien biopic reportedly in development

Post by David H on Fri Nov 22, 2013 8:13 pm

Blue, from what little I know of defamation in US law, I don't think it would be an issue for several reasons. First, I think it only applies to falsehoods about living individuals (citizens?) not historical figures or brands, which is what JRRT has become. (There's also an exclusion for public figures.)

Second, the defamation has to be misrepresented as truth, not as opinion. The standard disclaimer at the end of the credits is designed to take care of this, and is pretty well bombproof boilerplate as long as they don't try to pass themselves off as a documentary.

(unfortunately I learned this while volunteering for our local drainage commission. As a public figure there was nothing I could do.... Rolling Eyes )
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Re: Tolkien biopic reportedly in development

Post by Orwell on Fri Nov 22, 2013 9:51 pm

malickfan wrote:
Not sure about this, could be really tacky with Hollywood involvement-and let's face Tolkien lead a rather boring life I'd hate to see a cinematic adaption jumping on the PJ bandwagon with some fan fiction action film.
Not boring at all. Though it'd be more an intellectual movie and not so much the sword fights and stuff you youngsters enjoy. Very Happy 

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Re: Tolkien biopic reportedly in development

Post by Forest Shepherd on Sat Nov 23, 2013 7:28 am

I see no reason why the BBC should not handle this.
I guess that's because money is invisible and intangible so much these days.

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Re: Tolkien biopic reportedly in development

Post by Eldorion on Sun Nov 24, 2013 1:26 am

Nothing stopping the BBC from doing their own Tolkien biopic if they want to. Shrugging I'd definitely watch one if they made it.
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Re: Tolkien biopic reportedly in development

Post by Bluebottle on Sun Nov 24, 2013 6:48 pm

Why not take the BBC biopic idea a bit further. Laughing 

Let's say we cast Benedict Cumberbatch as young Tolkien. Should please everyone. Nod  And old Tolkien? Why not Ian McKellen?

This is starting to sound rather good really; A BBC Tolkien biopic with Benedict Cumberbatch as young Tolkien and Ian McKellen as old Tolkien. That actually sounds rather fantastic. Very Happy 

Too bad it's only a fantasy. Crying or Very sad 

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Re: Tolkien biopic reportedly in development

Post by Eldorion on Sun Nov 24, 2013 7:30 pm

Let's play that tumblr fantasy casting game.  Here's Tolkien as a young man during WWI:



And Tolkien in his old age:

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Re: Tolkien biopic reportedly in development

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sun Nov 24, 2013 7:37 pm

Well I would say for young Tolkien it would be the bloke who played Percy and Captain Darling in Blackadder- Tim something with an M!- but he's too old now sadly.
Wonder if he has a son who acts..

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Re: Tolkien biopic reportedly in development

Post by Eldorion on Sun Nov 24, 2013 7:38 pm

You have to post a picture, Petty! Mad Not all of who know who you're talking about.
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