What if we were to tell you that there are two J.R.R. Tolkien movies coming to theaters around 2015, and it’s not further splitting up the third Hobbit film?
We’ve already written about the Tolkien origin story (appopriately titled) Tolkien, but now there’s a competing biopic that has snagged an Easter 2015 release. Because while Tolkien is about how the author’s World War I service influenced his writing, this new contender Tolkien & Lewis delves into religion, and a rivalry that goes even deeper than Gandalf vs. Saruman.
Tolkien is being produced by Chernin Entertainment (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) from a script by Irish writer David Gleeson. Independent studio Attractive Films is taking on the smaller project of Tolkien & Lewis, with Simon West (Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, The Expendables 2) directing. The latter’s aim is to grab the “faith-based audience” with their tale of the friendship between Tolkien and author C.S. Lewis during their time at Oxford.
The two bonded over the horrors they witnessed as WWI veterans, as well as writers’ block with their two masterpieces, The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia series. It was actually the Catholic Tolkien who convinced his agnostic friend to convert to Christianity, which obviously helped get the creative juices flowing in crafting Narnia, Aslan, etc.
Unfortunately, their religious debates turned sour as their friendship was plagued by jealousy and paranoia: “Lewis becoming the poster boy for Christianity upset Tolkien,” says Attractive Films CEO Wernher Pramschufer. “And obsessive genius Tolkien is blocked, terrified of finishing The Fellowship of the Ring, for fear of the strange, psychotic visions which torture him.”
In a more meta sense, it’s always fascinating to watch two biopics compete in Hollywood, especially when the books they detail are such important parts of the cultural consciousness.