JRR Tolkien film biopic in the pipeline

JRR Tolkien, in 1968 The author was born in South Africa, but raised in Britain

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Fox Searchlight, which was behind last year's Hitchcock film, is developing a biopic about Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien.

The film will chronicle how the key moments in the novelist's life led him to write The Hobbit, and his acclaimed Rings trilogy.

Written by David Gleeson, it will focus on Tolkien's time at Oxford University and as a soldier during WW1.

Films based on Tolkien's books have grossed nearly $4bn worldwide.

Peter Jackson, who directed the Oscar-winning Lord of the Rings trilogy, will release the second chapter in the Hobbit trilogy, The Desolation of Smaug, next month.

Aside from his active role in WW1, Tolkien also trained as a code breaker during WW2.

The film will also cover his friendship with fellow author CS Lewis, with whom he studied at university and formed the writing group known as The Inklings.

It will be produced by Chernin Entertainment, behind films such as cop-comedy The Heat and Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

However, previous projects have been scuppered by the Tolkien estate, which is known to be protective of the author's output.

Last year, the estate sued Warner Bros for at least $80m (£49m) in damages from unauthorised merchandising of the Tolkien books.

In July this year, Warner Bros launched its own counterclaim, alleging the Tolkien suit has caused the studio to miss out on millions of dollars in licensing opportunities.

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