George Lucas [Source]

This review of the movie Willow, which was produced by George Lucas, claims:

George Lucas was desperately attempting to secure the rights to the Lord of the Rings series and its prequel, The Hobbit, for years and hoped to make it his next epic series post-STAR WARS.

This page on Willow computer games makes the same claim:

It should also be noted that Willow was originally intended to be a film adaptation of The Hobbit, but George Lucas could not procure the rights to the Tolkien franchises.

The Wikipedia page on Willow also used to say:

Lucas was originally going to do a film of JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit. But he was unable to get the rights.

But this has since been edited out because no source was provided.

My Question:

  • Did George Lucas once try to acquire the rights to The Lord of the Rings and/or The Hobbit,
    or is this an unfounded rumour?
  • 1
    A (humorous) comparison between Willow and LOTR can be watched here
    – Oliver_C
    Dec 15, 2012 at 21:29
  • 3
    We can all be thankful that he did not succeed. Good question though, it would be nice to find a definitive source for this. +1
    – iandotkelly
    Dec 15, 2012 at 22:21
  • @iandotkelly Yeah, just imagine Lucas after some years of The Lord of the Rings' amazing success coming up with the idea for LotR: Episode I - III, which would suddenly get mixed reviews from LotR fans. Wait, what? ;-)
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Apr 26, 2014 at 19:14
  • Willow was an amazing movie, I think GL could have done a really good job with LOTR and/or The Hobbit.
    – sanpaco
    Jul 21, 2015 at 19:52

2 Answers 2


I asked this question on Facebook to a couple of friends of mine (Pablo Hidalgo, content manager and author for Lucasfilm, and Mark Newbold, writer for Star Wars Insider) and as far as they know, this rumor isn't true.

Lucas certainly saw Tolkien's work as an influence, but he didn't actively seek to acquire the rights.

  • Now the question is, have they heard him say "No, that's not true" or have they just never heard him say "Yes, that's true." The latter would leave open a possibility, but the first would definately confirm that the rumour is wrong.
    – Oliver_C
    Dec 20, 2012 at 8:57
  • Good point, Oliver. That said, these guys know everything there is to know about George and the company, so I'll trust I'll their judgement. But you are correct, this isn't conclusive.
    – Nobby
    Dec 20, 2012 at 14:32

It would appear to me that those claims could be true, because researching the subject in Google found many references to George Lucas and Lord of the Rings. You have to also accept that George would have the financial ability to purchase such rights, and he is clearly a huge fan of Tolkien's work.

George is referenced in this FOX News report as being close friends with director Peter Jackson.

Lucas also told me that he and Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson have become good friends, commiserating with each other in Australia and New Zealand on their shoots about making their two series.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,75540,00.html

Also, in this StarWars Origins website. I found the following.

Lucas has often cited The Lord of the Rings as a major influence on Star Wars. The superficial stuff is the most obvious, but the subtle lesson Lucas learned from Tolkien is how to handle the delicate stuff of myth.

LOTR is a reoccurring theme when Goerge is interviewed. So I think this makes this myth possible that he once tried to purchase the rights.

  • 1
    Just as an aside, I asked this question on Facebook to a couple of friends of mine who are fairly high up in the Lucasfilm ranks, and they claimed that this rumor isn't true. Lucas certainly saw Tolkien's work as an influence, but he didn't actively seek to acquire the rights.
    – Nobby
    Dec 20, 2012 at 3:57
  • You should post that as an answer.
    – Reactgular
    Dec 20, 2012 at 4:01
  • I don't remember where I read it, but I think Lucas and Jackson became friends after the LotR movies came out.
    – Oliver_C
    Dec 20, 2012 at 8:48

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