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'The Lord of the Rings' is making a comeback - 5 more fantasy franchises that also deserve a revival
The Lord of the Rings is headed back to the movies. It's time for these other franchises to do the same.
Warner Bros. Discovery has announced a deal to make "multiple" new films set in the Lord of the Rings universe, in hopes of continuing the box office success Warner Bros. had with Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies. We don't yet know what characters and stories these films will focus on, or who will make them, but it's a big swing for WBD at a time when the company is working to rejuvenate winning franchises, particularly when Amazon is already working on its own Lord of the Rings adaptation in the streaming space.
Still, it's enough to make you start thinking about a potential resurgence in epic fantasy franchises, many of which were launched in the wake of the success of The Lord of the Rings in the early 2000s. If we're bring LOTR back to the big-screen, that means several other key series might have a shot, some of them with considerably more leftover story to tell. So, here are five fantasy franchises we'd love to see making a triumphant return to the big screen.
The Chronicles of Narnia
The beloved series of children's books by C.S. Lewis already has three big-budget feature films under its belt, but it's been more than a decade since the last installment, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, hit theaters. Over the past few years we've heard reports that Netflix is working on a new adaptation of the entire series, but we've yet to see major movement on that front. Whether Netflix pushes their adaptation ahead or someone else takes the reins, it feels like Lewis' tale of a magical land apart from our own and the creatures and threats who populate it is due for another chance at live-action glory.
Conan the Barbarian
It's been nearly 40 years since Conan the Destroyer, and more than a decade since the Conan the Barbarian reboot starring Jason Momoa. In the years since, we've heard Arnold Schwarzenegger talk about the ongoing development if his latter-day Conan adventure, and a new Red Sonja movie is on the way that might sort of nod in Conan's direction, but that doesn't make up for the lack of Conan on our screens. Whether you're talking about the original Robert E. Howard stories or the dozens of authors who've picked up the sword for books and comics in the decades since Howard's death, there are vast amounts of potential Conan source material that could propel a new movie or series. It might mean Schwarzenegger as King Conan, or it might mean a new star stepping into the Cimmerian's shoes. Either way, Conan deserves a comeback.
There have been whispers of a new Highlander movie for a long time now, but one has yet to materialize in the years since the last feature installment in the original franchise hit theaters. While a straight-up reboot of the original story might not be the best route, a new story featuring the same concept could be loads of fun, as could some kind of legacy sequel that ignores the previous installments and builds on the original movie's sense of fantasy adventure fun. Highlander is a great idea with lots of potential, so if you're going to relaunch fantasy franchises, you'd be wise to keep it in consideration.
The Mummy as a concept at Universal Pictures has never fully gone away, but it's been some time now since we've followed the adventures of Rick O'Connell and Evelyn Carnahan as they explore various supernatural hideaways in the world of archaeology. Now that Brendan Fraser's back in a big way (not that he was ever gone, mind you), and he seems game for a return to Rick, there's a chance for more adventures in this particular Mummy universe. Send Rick and Evie to another exotic locale, have them face a whole different kind of spooky tomb, or just send them back to Egypt 20 years later. However it works, there's definitely an appetite for it. Check out the film saga here.
L. Frank Baum's land of Oz is so, so much bigger than the story of Dorothy Gale and the Wizard. Baum wrote more than a dozen books in his lifetime set in the magical world, and authors like Ruth Plumly Thompson later wrote dozens more, constantly expanding Oz and the surrounding landscape to build a massive tapestry of characters and narratives. It's all so vast and rich that it's just begging for a return following the last big-screen attempt, Sam Raimi's Oz the Great and Powerful. You could play it completely straight and in line with Baum's original tone, or you could go the Gregory Maguire route and aim for a reinvention. Either way, there's so much there to play with.