In celebration of the 40th year of Ralph Bakshi's Lord of the Rings (1978) I' am starting this topic of the animated middle earth films

it will take me a long while to write things up. if you are interested to help, please do.

In the merry United Kingdom there lived a professor

Many meetings with film makers and producers

Many attempts: Gene Dietch's Hobbit and Disney's 1972 pitch


the Disney - Tolkien myth


Rankin/Bass, Ralph Bakshi and Saul Zaentz







mentions of an early version of Rankin/Bass The Hobbit (without TopCraft)

“There’s one last historical detail here. In a section on cancelled animated features, Edera lists a British adaptation of
The Hobbit
A newly formed organisation by James Nurse, Euroanimation’s attempt to film Tolkien’s well-known novel for Rankin and Bass, New York. The project may be revived.

The Rankin-Bass Hobbit
was indeed revived
and was released in 1977, the year of the book’s publication.

However, it was animated by Topcraft, the Japanese studio better known for animating the proto-Ghibli
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
. I have no idea exactly what happened to Euroanimation, which I can find no mention of on the web.”
and also Jeffery Grey’s comment from the comment section of Cartoon Brew’s article of Gene Deitch’s The Hobbit (1966)
Jeffrey Gray: “Believe it or not, there’s another pilot film for an unproduced “Hobbit” adaptation somewhere out there. In the mid 70s, Geoff Dunbar and Oscar Grillo worked on an abortive animated “Hobbit” for Rankin-Bass, who apparently first tried to make it in London before doing it in Japan. It’s briefly mentioned in Bruno Edera’s 1977 book “Full Length Animated Feature Films,” in a section on cancelled features.
Dunbar told me in an e-mail that he and Oscar quit the project when they realized that Rankin and Bass didn’t understand anything about Tolkien.
Some kind of pilot must have been made, because finished frames appear in Walter Herdeg’s 1976 book “Film & TV Graphics 2” (which is how I first found out about it).”

Siovt Russia hobbit unfinished since 1991 (the prolouge is complete)


The War of the animated Adaptations (lawsuit between Bakshi Zaentz and rankin/bass)

Jim Korkis' Animation Anecdotes #136
The Tolkien Battle. Lawyers representing Saul Zaentz’s Fantasy Films and Tolkien’s estate filed suit to prevent Rankin-Bass’ The Return of the King (1980) from being televised, charging Rankin-Bass with copyright violations.
An angry Ralph Bakshi stated, “They’re (Rankin-Bass) not going to stop us from doing The Lord of the Rings and they won’t stop us from doing The Hobbit. Anyone who saw their version of The Hobbit know it has nothing to do with the quality and style of our feature. My life isn’t going to be altered by what Rankin-Bass choses to do badly.”
Jules Bass replied, “I liked Bakshi’s version. There were some interesting and exciting sequences. But I don’t see any problem or confusion with our doing The Return of the King. There were six versions of “A Christmas Carol’ on the air last December (1979). People take each on its own terms. If Bakshi does a sequel in two or three years, it will just be his version.”
The suit went to court but was settled “amicably” although no specifics were released. Rankin-Bass’ The Return of the King aired May 1980. Orson Bean was the voice of both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins with John Huston doing the voice of Gandalf.

Sean Astin (Samwise from Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings triolgy) remembers his reaction to Ralph Bakshi's The Lord of the Rings(1978) during off duty from The Lord of The Rings The Two Towers (2002)

live performance of a piece of Leonard Rosenman's score from Lord of the Rings (1978)
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