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J.R.R. Tolkien Biopic ‘Middle Earth’ Lands Director James Strong

British director James Strong has boarded the J.R.R. Tolkien biopic “Middle Earth.”

Bob Shaye, Michael Lynne, and Rachael Horovitz are producing the film about author J.R.R. Tolkien and the events that inspired his novels “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings.” Shaye and Lynne greenlit “The Lord of the Rings” movie trilogy when they were co-chiefs at New Line Cinema. Strong, whose credits include the hit TV series “Broadchurch” and “Downton Abbey,” is helming from a script by Angus Fletcher.

Protagonist Pictures is handling world sales on “Middle Earth,” and will launch to buyers at the Berlin Film Festival.

The film follows Tolkien’s early life and his love affair with Edith Bratt, whom he later married. “The couple lived happily in Oxford, surrounded by friends, but when war breaks out in 1914, Tolkien embarks on four years of battle, hardship, and new friendships that serve to shape his imagination and start him on the path to Middle Earth,” according to a Protagonist statement.

Fletcher gathered the materials for “Middle Earth” through six years of archival research and personal interviews. His script “Sand Dogs” appeared on the Black List in 2009. Other projects that he has written include the forthcoming adaptation of E.M. Forster’s “The Longest Journey” for Classic Film Productions and Sleeping Giant Films, Philip K. Dick’s “The Variable Man” for Electric Shepherd Productions, and “Helen of Sparta” for Anonymous Content.

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Strong is directing the AMC/ITV miniseries “Liar,” starring Ioan Gruffudd and Joanne Froggatt. In addition to “Broadchurch,” his TV credits include BBC dramas “The Best Possible Taste” and “United,” and Hulu’s “11.22.63” for J.J. Abrams and Stephen King.

Shaye and Lynne formed Unique Features in June 2008 after running New Line for two decades. The company’s credits include “When the Bough Breaks” and the upcoming Shaye-directed “Ambition,” starring Katherine Hughes and Giles Matthey. Horovitz’s credits include Oscar-nominated “Moneyball” and “About Schmidt,” which she made while working for Shaye and Lynne as an executive at New Line.

Strong is represented by CAA, Plattform, and United Agents in the U.K.

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