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Is the next Warner Bros. film, Lord of the Rings, inspired by a YouTube fan film?

Is the next Warner Bros. film, Lord of the Rings, inspired by a YouTube fan film?

Peter Jackson And Andy Serkis plan to tell the story of The hunt for Gollum, but a YouTube fan film may have beaten them. As Warner Bros.. announced its latest addition to the the Lord of the Rings franchise, it found itself in a rights dispute with an independent project that also uses the title “Hunt for Gollum.”

On May 9Warner Bros. announced a pair of the Lord of the Rings anthology films that will tell standalone stories set in Middle Earth. The hunt for Gollum, tentatively scheduled for release in 2026, will be the first of these projects. It will feature the involvement of the original the Lord of the Rings director (Jackson) and the performer who played Gollum in these films (Serkis).

There is only one problem with this project: a film titled The hunt for Gollum Already exists. It arrived 15 years ago, back when fan films were thriving on platforms like YouTube. The hunt for Gollum illustrated its genre in several ways: The 39-minute project produced by Chris Bouchard had a small budget but deserved praise for its assured performances and passionate depiction of its source material. He received more than 13 million views nowadays.

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When it comes to unlicensed fan films, Warner Bros. has generally taken a hard line. The hunt for Gollum has been allowed to exist on YouTube for over a decade, but following the latest announcement, the fan film has been the subject of a copyright claim. He then went offline for several hours.

As the Lord of the Rings Fans criticized the decision to pull the fan film, Warner Bros. reversed course. A studio representative said The Hollywood Reporter that the original copyright claim was filed in error. The hunt for Gollum was quickly restored on YouTube.

Legal disputes between studios and fans are nothing new, but Warner Bros’ decision to reimagine a fan project as an official release is an intriguing choice. We will have to wait until 2026 to know if Jackson and Serkis will be inspired by In search of Gollum who preceded them.