RUMOR: Disney and Warner Brothers to Bring “The Lord of the Rings” to Disney Parks

Yes, that’s right. It sounds like Disney and Warner Brothers have either signed or are very close to signing an agreement that will bring “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” movie-inspired areas to the Disney Parks. This comes on the heels of rumors that it would be Universal that would acquire the theme parks rights several months ago.

LOTR

 

Disney began talking to executives at Warner Bros. about the idea late last year, and it seems now that Disney is looking to finalize or announce the deal in hopes of turning the tide in the Orlando theme park wars.

Rumor has it that Universal Orlando’s parks may show stronger attendance numbers in 2014 with the opening of a second Wizarding World of Harry Potter area, actually defeating Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. This has Disney frightened.

With already announced AVATAR inspired attractions going to Animal Kingdom in the not-so-distant future, Disney is rumored to be overhauling a planned expansion of Hollywood Studios focusing to focus Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings. It would seem that any Cars Land additions planned for the park are now on hold or may never be built so that Disney could quickly move along with these other projects for the park, opening them between 2015 and 2018.

While we haven’t heard anything about what a Lord of the Rings-inspired area would include, it seems that an announcement from Disney might be imminent.

As with any rumor, you should take this with a grain of salt until it is actually announced. Things often change, especially when negotiations with other companies are involved, so who knows if this project will ever see the light of day. Until then, it sure is fun to think about…

What do you think? Would the Lord of the Rings be a good addition to Disney’s Hollywood Studios?

46 comments

  1. DD

    WB doesn't control the theme park rights to this property. So any theme park activity must involve the Tolkien Estate. And they are NEVER fun to work with at all.

    • Ron D'Anna

      They would have to contract with Warner to use any visuals inspired by the movies. Anyone can do Oz stuff now, but you use the classic 1938 versions you still need Warner(I think they own it now).

    • Michael McKelvin

      It could be something similar the Lord of Rings Video games. The Tolkien Estate owns the right for the video games based directly off the books while WB retains the rights to video games based off the movies. So WB may own the rights to use for a theme park attraction based off the movies but not the original books.

      • DD

        No, WB and MGM hold no theme park rights. Tolkien Estate holds those. They would have to be secured first with Tolkien, then they can secure imagery and likenesses from WB for Jackson's films. Same thing happened with Potter. Rowling held the rights. Uni secured those from her then also secured use from WB for their films.

        Currently Tolkien and WB are suing each other over rights issues, so any sort of advancement anytime soon is unlikely.

        • Michael McKelvin

          That's insane, but understandable. I just assumed it would be that why based on the situation with the video games.

          • DD

            Yeah, it's crazy. But video game rights fall under the visual production deal they have. This is a whole new area. Otherwise, WB and MGM would have sold the rights years ago.

  2. Joe Hogarty

    I have heard in the past that J R R Tolkien really loathed Disney. He disliked how Disney "Disneyfied" classic literature and dumbed it down for children. I read that Tolkien had his family promise him that they would never sell his work to Disney. I would be surprised if the Tolkien family would allow this deal to go through. So in order for the Tolkien Estate to agree to this they probably spent a ridiculous amount of money which I would rather have been used to get the rights to Marvel characters back from Universal.

    • Michael McKelvin

      This was probably far cheaper than buying out Universal's rights. Plus since they are dealing with WB's, it's most likely the rights to the movie properties not the books. WB's has the rights to the movies based off the books, not the Tolkien Estate.

      • Joe Hogarty

        I know the Tolkien family did not like the LOTR Trilogy or The Hobbit movies. Kind of have a feeling that they arent very pleasant people to hang out with. Oh well, I can always dream about Marvel characters coming to Disney Parks east of the Mississippi. (cant believe is spelled Mississippi right on the first shot!)

  3. Brian Dancer

    Yes, this is a guaranteed smash hit, along the lines of Potter and Star Wars. This is an epic world that Tolkien created and Jackson brought to life on screen. Can't miss.

  4. R

    I hope this is not true, because Disney would never do it properly or in a timely manner. I honestly don't think this is true anyways, since Disney can't get their current stuff on their to-do list done. Avatar is far off, they are still working on details on what to include for Star Wars, and anything with Pixar is pretty much dead. 2015 is a generous estimate that will never be made. They need to break ground on something soon just to make a 2016 date of any kind. Which nothing is ready to start construction.

  5. A

    Sad part is that if this were Universal, it would be done by 2016. They are trying to take the market share over there and they are getting it. The new Potter expansion looks like it is going to be truly incredible. I love Disney because I grew up there and it is a huge part of my childhood. The problem with today's America is that they don't care to much for story or theme unless it is a brand they already know. Avatar is coming, but it was popular 3 years ago and it's not exactly timeless. If the movies continue then maybe there is a chance. Star Wars is great, but it needs to actually happen. Our generation of hardcore Disney fans it unique but it can't grow if Disney doesn't try something with a major franchise. Yeah, I know the Disney parks are the most attended parks in the world, on average. What happens if Universal does get the LOTR rights and not Disney? I truly don't think they have the space to do it justice over there unless they take out the sound stages but imagine in the not too distant future that UOR will become the main destination spot. Mostly because people want to live in those worlds of Potter and LOTR. Disney has become a joke at building new things. Unless it's a restaurant, it's nearly impossible to get something built in a timely manner. The quality of the work is their, there just doesn't seem to be a sense of urgency on Disney's part. Universal is making a committed effort to knock off the big dogs in this fight and they have landed a few good blows, it's time for Disney to land a haymaker…..sorry for the rant….and boxing reference.

    • stodgers

      You might have missed this, but Cameron is working on 2-3 Avatar sequels, so it'll be back in the limelight soon enough.

  6. Gary

    Oh that is such BS. when the money is right tolkin will move to the green. And what is universal any different. Disney should be in the attack mode.

  7. Absolutely love the idea! I do think this is something that deserves it's own park though to truly do it justice. I also agree with everyone about Disney taking way too long to get construction done, look how long it took just to get the Fantasyland expansion (which still isn't totally complete). I fear if they did make a whole new park it wouldn't be open until 2025 when they will have lost all major buzz.

    • Michelle

      In my opinion the reason construction is taking so long with Disney is because they have to many projects on the go… They have New Fantasyland (biggest expansion in park history) then they have Downtown Disney changing up… now the Avatar land expansion. Not to mention all the yearly refurbishment that need doing… I don't think they could stand to add more for at least a year, or else there would be to much stuff under construction and people won't want to go. I mean who would really like to go where every park there is a big bunch walls up block/ redirecting or taking rides away…

  8. Michelle

    I don't know how they either park would be able to make LOTR into theme park rides… I think that it would be pushing it when it comes to turning it in park activities… Honestly I love, love, love Disney but I still don't understand what they are going to do with Avatar….

  9. DBenson

    What's really kind of interesting is that both Universal and Disney would be licensing marquee properties from Warner. Warner could conceivably cash in, being able to make life easier or harder for either of the two rivals at will. We might see significantly more Warner product on ABC, NBC or both.

  10. eugenio

    I believe disney s executives do know who is the right people to talk to…if this proyect comes true, i ll be moving to orlando….couldn't be better.

  11. eugenio

    Agree. LOTR deserves it s own park. But i wouldn t complain if they decide to build it inside one of the current parks.

  12. Lexi

    I think this is FANTASTIC idea. I know that a lot of people are complaining about Disney's timetables but the question is, do you want something faster or would you rather wait for something truly amazing? Just look at Fantasyland. Yes, it took a few years and the waiting felt endless, but the results are incredible. Harry Potter world is pretty neat, but Disney's craftsmanship is unparalleled. Star Wars & LOTR would be the PERFECT way to draw crowds of many ages to Hollywood Studios, a park that is lacking attractions. I do have a feeling this deal would get very messy and we would have to wait for all the bugs to be worked out, but I think the payoff would be worth the risk.

    • Terry

      I think you are right about the craftsmen ship but you have to admit, Magical World of Harry Potter could always be better… I mean Moaning Myrtle could of been done differently… they could of had her in the mirror interacting with the guests (there is a fountain that does it so why can't Myrtle?) Olivander's could be different…I mean how many kids/people have wanted to go in and have a wand choose them only to have some random other kid/person to get called forward, and then if you are in the back of the 20ish people in the little room you might not get to see much… People should be able to get to experience it themselves if they want to and not have to stand in line for possibly an hour or so only to watch some other kid get called forward. Why can't all the shops be open even as a museum type thing instead of just having a door and a window display.. You are very right… Disney has a way to really get everyone involved in the experience, not just a spectator who doesn't feel noticed.

  13. The Puppeteer

    I hope it's not true. See what Disney did with Star Wars, a license they had for many, many years….one lame ride that got old really quick and a ride system that can be found in almost every park. Only until they owned the property they cared to put money in it.
    With Avatar it looks they are wanting to spent money but again it's a pretty place with 2 lame rides like New Fantasyland. A boat ride and a sourin clone in 3D.
    Building Middle Earth in the Disney Studio wouldn't have the space to be grand and unlike Universal Disney got plenty space but not at the studios unless they expand it. And what can we expect? A dance of with Gandalf against Frodo, a hug zone with Galadriel, a restaurant in Minas Tirith and a Hobbit feet boutique where every princes can get her Hobbit feet?

    What if Disney is going to make this a premium park, they more and more cater to the seriously rich. They make it it's own little park on the former discovery island across River country. Like Discovery Cove at Sea World it costs $150-200 and will we a little middle earth.

    In the end I hope Universal get's the franchise. I've been blown away by their rides and that is something Disney hasn't done for me for more then 10 years.

    • wallyfisk

      That's because Disney's greatest and most innovative attractions of late are not found stateside, they're all in Japan. All Disney has to do to really turn the tide against Universal, alongside capitalizing on the Star Wars Acquisition is import everything it's done for Tokyo (DisneySea) + a complete monorail expansion to trap guests on property.

      • The Puppeteer

        But that won't happen because Disney doesn't pay the bills in Tokyo. They penny pinch the projects here and that's why we end up with crap.

  14. Cousin Huet

    I hope Universal gets it too……I mean, if they can somehow duplicate that warehouse with a billboard on it styling they used for Transformers then it will surely be mind blowing.

    Creating Middle Earth in one part of another park is going to be difficult……it could end up super disappointing like Jurassic Park is at Universal, but I doubt either entity will be willing to give it an entire park or even build a new park that gives it huge amount of real estate alongside one or two other themed areas so we have to hope for the best out of what they will attempt. Visually I will feel more comfortable giving Disney a shot at it than Universal when it comes to a totally immersive environment as Avatar looks like it could be fantastic and visually stunning.

    I am hoping Universal does better with HP2.0 but Jurassic Park is subpar and WWOHP is an actual child coaster, a crappy use of Hogwarts (should of been more Pirates/Haunted Mansion and less jarring, crappy screen quality mistake) and then a cool coaster that was just rethemed (is there a theme?) and hidden with views of nothing worth viewing.

    I fawning over Universal I just do not get……what Disney did with Carsland and is planning to do with Avatarland is awesome. Once the SDMT is done that area will also be quite impressive as well. The Simpson's food court, Transformers warehouse and disappointing HP World is not what I am looking for.

  15. Steve

    The fact the Cameron is invloved in Avatarland is what is slowing it down. it took him 3 years to make the first movie, and it will take double that to make the next ones. I garuntee you that Disney would like to get this made as soon as possible but cannot get anything passes Cameron's controlling nature.

    • The Puppeteer

      I'm sure that is not the reason. The only real reason I can think of is that December 2016 the second Avatar movie is getting in movie theatres. Disney is hoping to ride on that hype (if there is one because there will probably a Star Wars and Marvel movie also competing for movie goers). And the rock work progress is always taking for ever when you look at snail mountain at MK.

  16. Randy

    I would not like to see the Lord of the Rings at Disney Parks. It is an amazing story but not one that I think Disney should do because I do not feel like it is a family film. It does not hold true to Disney. Avatar is the same for me. Yes it is visually stunning but not family friendly as in themeing.

  17. larry

    as a huge disney fan since i was a kid. I always thought disney should have done LOTR as an animated series. I feel they could have done the story justice. If disney is prepared to spend the time and money to build an LOTR land I know disney imagineers will create a magical experience.

  18. Cillendor

    No the reason they didn't like the movies is because New Line tried to screw them out of all the money they were owed in the contract. After a lengthy legal battle, Christopher Tolkien (John Tolkien's son) became the grumpy self he is today because he's sick of Hollywood and movie studios.

    Plus, you've got to remember that he grew up with those stories. They were part of his childhood from birth, and they've become his world in adulthood. Christopher Tolkien is the reason that we have The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, The Children of Húrin, and the History of Middle Earth collection, not to mention a plethora of non-Middle-earth books. He comes across as an old codger now because his father's books are his world, and New Line Cinema took it, messed with it, and then didn't even give him his fair dues.

    All this to say, I love the movies and what Peter Jackson has done. But I don't want anyone to get the wrong impression about Christopher Tolkien and the others at the Tolkien Estate.

  19. Jim Hill is claiming that this story is false. He said this is from "imagineers" he talked with. I have a feeling thought that your story is correct. Could you please elaborate a bit on your sources?

  20. Emmett

    Not true. warner bros can legally sign a contract with disney for the rights. Also, I want to make clear that disney ad universal are in cahoots with one another

  21. Norm

    I agree with you, Tara. Sounds like another grab for more $$$. More dilution of the Disney brand. Next thing you know, they will change the name from Walt Disney World Resort to Big Movie World Resort. These movies have no Disney connection whatsoever. The talking heads at W. Disney Co. are ruining the magic that is Disney by introducing attractions that do not fit within any Disney theme. Perhaps those same talking heads should look at other options to attract visitors to the parks, like lowering the ticket prices and food prices. I've been going to the Disney parks since 1960, so I guess I'm a Disney purist. Leave the Lord of the Rings, Hobbit, etc. for other theme parks. Keep the Disney in WDW.

  22. But the debate with this is that disney already has non-disney within the parks and is successful…things like indiana jones, star wars (up until last year, though its been there for a long time), twilight zone, soon to be avatar, even aerosmith…lets not forget disneys hollywood studios is a park built to celebrate movies, not just disney movies. the great movie ride hardly touches on the disney brand.

  23. Jimmy Costello

    Sounds great but I think it would be better off at animal kingdom a 3track hobbit roller coaster replacing expedition Everest each track represents each part

  24. Jimmy

    Great idea a new land in disney’s animal kingdom middle earth the flagship attraction the hobbit a 3 track roller coaster replacing expedition Everest and mirkwood river run replacing kali river rapids

  25. PM

    I’d take this with a grain of salk…the author surmised Cars Land would never open in an article published a month or two before it then went on to open to rave reviews ; ) just sayin…

  26. sammy miller

    i think they should make this into a park. i loved the hobbit and also the lotr movies to. i even think disney should buy a place in wv or ohio for a big themepark there too, geuaga lake is up for sale they need to buy that for a big themepark. you can call for further info at 1-800-288-0808

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