Annecy Sets 'Lord of the Rings' Anime Movie, DC's 'Creature Commandos'

Andy Serkis led a panel for The Lord Of The Rings: The War of the Rohirrim as fans got to experience the first 20 minutes of the theatrical anime film at the Annecy Animation Festival.

Hailing from New Line Cinema and Warner Bros. Animation, director Kenji Kamiyama’s feature is based on a short segment from author J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and hits theaters Dec. 13. The film focuses on Hèra (voiced by Gaia Wise) — the daughter of Helm Hammerhand (Brian Cox), a notable king of Rohan — as the family attempts to protect their region from the Dunlendings.

“The fans are gonna go nuts for this,” Serkis, who is not directly involved in the film but had recently watched it, told the crowd Tuesday as he introduced the footage. “You are the first people to see this, and boy, it’s an extraordinary piece of work.”

After the segment was well-received by the audience, Serkis channeled Gollum, his character from director Peter Jackson‘s live-action The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films, by quipping, “There is only one word to describe a movie with Lord of the Rings and anime at the same time, and that is precious.”

Serkis then introduced the project’s panel, which included Kamiyama, producers Philippa Boyens and Joseph Chou, and Warners exec Jason DeMarco. Kamiyama, known for directing the anime series Blade Runner: Black Lotus, emphasized that he was a devoted fan of Jackson’s film series and saw each of the three movies on opening night.

The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim

Courtesy of Warner Bros.

During the panel, the team announced that Jackson and producing partner Fran Walsh are executive producers on the animated movie. Jackson appeared via video at the start of the event to introduce the project.

Kamiyama expressed his appreciation for Boyens’ involvement in helping lead the development of the new movie’s narrative, given that she co-wrote Jackson’s films. “It was essential that Philippa led the story,” the director said through an interpreter.

DeMarco discussed the challenge of combining the Lord of the Rings franchise with the world of anime. “We did not want to make an animated version of a Peter Jackson film,” he said. “We wanted to make a Kenji Kamiyama anime feature film that lives within that world. And that’s a difficult, difficult task that requires a lot of delicate balancing between two types of filmmaking that haven’t really collided like this before.”

Chou pointed out how daunting of a task it was to create the film and mentioned that it went from being envisioned as running 90 minutes to then ending up at two and a half hours. “Don’t they all — at least,” Serkis quipped about the franchise’s tendency for lengthier films.

Serkis went on to tease his work on the planned live-action feature Lord of the Rings: The Hunt for Gollum, which will see him star and direct, with Jackson also executive producing that project.

“We all know Lord of the Rings is a massively popular IP,” Serkis said. “I feel very blessed and lucky enough to have been part of it many times and am happily returning.”

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