Lord Of The Rings Star Directing Spinoff Dooms Adventure From The Start

By Michileen Martin | Published

andy serkis

As someone working in entertainment journalism, I don’t usually get frustrated anymore when I learn franchises that would be best left alone are being revived–if film studios can get money out of a property, they will, and there is not any corner of the multiverse in which you will find a version of them that cares that fans think a beloved franchise is being stripped of all dignity. If you can’t deal with that, writing about entertainment is not the gig for you. But when I learned yesterday that Andy Serkis would be helming the spinoff The Hunt for Gollum, the anger started to boil and not because I wanted Warner Bros. Discovery to leave Lord of the Rings alone, but because if they’re going to keep milking the source material that made me fall in love with fiction, they could at the very least tap someone other than the absolute last person in the world who should direct the film in question.

Why Not Andy Serkis?

andy serkis

I know, you may very well be thinking Andy Serkis is the perfect choice to direct The Hunt for Gollum. We don’t know a lot about the film yet, and “The Hunt for Gollum” could very well be nothing more than a working title, but it seems likely the pitiful, tortured creature Serkis brought to the screen in Peter Jackson’s adaptations will be at the center of the plot. With J.R.R. Tolkien having died in 1973, you could very well argue that no one alive knows the character of Gollum better than Serkis.

So, why shouldn’t Andy Serkis direct The Hunt for Gollum?


Have you seen Venom: Let There Be Carnage?

Venom: Let There Be Carnage

andy serkis venom 3

I know if you’re reading this there’s a very good chance you did see Venom: Let There Be Carnage, which Andy Serkis directed. I know because it made a ton of money, in spite of it making its predecessor–which was not bad, but really just kind of okay–look like a brilliant opus from a visionary director in comparison.

From the opening scene of Venom: Let There Be Carnage, in which Andy Serkis made the confusingly hilarious decision to have Woody Harrelson and Naomie Harris dub their voices over the actors playing their childhood selves–so awkward and off-putting it makes you genuinely wonder if there was anyone on set who was awake and sober–the movie is so stinkingly godawful, you question a little bit if it’s supposed to a high-budget parody of a better movie Serkis forgot to show us.

Jackson And Boyens And Walsh… And So What?

I genuinely do not want to have a knee-jerk “all new things are of the bad” reaction to The Hunt for Gollum, and I usually don’t for this kind of stuff. I’m not the guy who groans about how there’s “too many” spinoffs, sequels, and remakes. So when I heard the news about Andy Serkis directing I tried to take comfort in the fact that Peter Jackson–who directed the trilogy adaptations–would be producing, while LotR writers Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens would be writing.

For a few seconds that worked, but then I remembered that Jackson, Walsh, and Boyens were all involved in the decision to turn a single novel, The Hobbit, into a trilogy that survives as a wonderful cinematic sleep aid.

Why Gollum?

andy serkis

Can someone who has some deep Hollywood connections tell me where all of these creatives got it in their head that Gollum–the guy who is basically the merging of Jekyll/Hyde, a drug addict, and that little guy who hangs out next to Jabba the Hutt and cackles at everything he does–is the linchpin of the Lord of the Rings franchise? Between Andy Serkis directing this new spinoff and last year’s dumpster fire of a video game The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, it’s clear all these studio heads think, “if there’s one Lord of the Rings character these nerds really want as their hero, it’s the fantasy version of Chris Rock’s Pookie in New Jack City.”

Yes, he’s a fascinating character and Andy Serkis played him marvelously, but where did these studios get the idea that this emaciated snot was what brought us to the theater again and again?

We don’t want to live vicariously through a creature so desperate to recapture the object of his obsession that he whittles away every piece of himself until he’s a monster. We all know what that’s like with everything we’re dying to dive into once work’s done on Friday afternoon. We want to live vicariously through spell-slinging wizards and axe-swinging dwarves and elf archers who move like Spider-Man through hordes of Haradrim to take down massive super-elephants singlehanded.

The Only Silver Lining

warner bros discovery david zaslav

There is one possible bit of good news about Andy Serkis directing The Hunt for Gollum and it would be unfair if I didn’t mention it.

The Hunt for Gollum is being made thanks to Warner Bros. Discovery, and David “The Decisions I Make Don’t Confuse Anyone At All” Zaslav remains the CEO. This means that once Andy Serkis lets everyone know that he’s spent over $100 million on the film and that it’s almost done with post-production, there’s a good chance Zaslav will suddenly emerge from whatever corner of the set he’s been hiding in to tell everyone the movie’s been canceled, no one will ever see it, he’ll soon be petitioning the United Nations for a resolution urging the world’s entire population pretend they never heard about it in the first place, and whatever evidence of The Hunt for Gollum that remains will be dragged away and dumped in the same hole where Zaslav keeps Batgirl and Coyote Vs. Acme. Then, after pulling out a literal gun and shooting himself in the foot, Zaslav will limp to the bank to count his money.