If you’re excited about Prime Video’s lavish Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power TV series, chances are you’re also excited by Warner Bros.’ The War of the Rohirrim anime movie, announced last summer. Unfortunately, you’ll be waiting quite a while for the horse-lords of Middle-earth to come trotting onto movie screens, as the film won’t premiere until April 12, 2024 — but at least we have a first look.
That first look comes from a single piece of concept art, seen above, which was made by Weta Workshop and not Sola, the anime studio responsible for making the film. I hate to spoil it for you, but it is a painting of the Rohirrim, at war. Specifically, at war with the Haradrim, since that’s a Mûmakil smashing through the wooden walls of Rohan’s capital Edoras. (Those people who are about to write a snide comment informing me this is an Oliphaunt, not a Mûmakil, please take it up with the LotR wiki that states only hobbits call them that.)
You’ll remember the Haradrim as part of Sauron’s human forces, who fought against the Rohirrim in Peter Jackson’s Return of the King movie. However, The War of the Rohirrim — in addition to taking place a few hundred years before the events of Lord of the Rings — will tell “the untold story behind the fortress of Helm’s Deep,” seen in The Two Towers’ epic battle, and “[delve] into the life and bloodsoaked times of one of Middle-earth’s most legendary figures; the mighty King of Rohan — Helm Hammerhand.”
It’s worth noting that this anime film has absolutely nothing to do with Prime Video’s upcoming Rings of Power TV series and will be more closely tied to Jackson’s movies, which you can get a visual sense of from the art. It’s also worth noting that Warner Bros. may be losing its Lord of the Rings rights very soon, as the Saul Zaentz Company is reported to be putting the licence back on the market in the near future. If WB does lose the movie rights (which will almost certainly be grabbed up by Amazon like Gollum snatching up the Ring), there’s no telling how this will affect The War of the Rohirrim, but it’s probably not going to be a good thing.
If the movie does manage to come out in 2024, it will have been directed by Kinji Kamiyama of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex fame. Warner Bros. says it’ll be announcing the movie’s “exciting” voice cast soon, but between the 2024 release and the licence issues, “soon” could be a very relative term.