British fantasy literature has two towering figures: J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, and C.S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia. The two were longtime friends, and now their relationship will be the subject of a new movie: Tolkien & Lewis, an $18 million drama, will be produced by UK-based production outfit Attractive Films and directed by Simon West, known for The Expendables 2, Con Air, and a certain Rick Astley music video.
Attractive describes the movie as “a drama fantasy set in war torn Britain in 1941 revealing the faith, friendship, and rivalry between J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.”
The two writers had a lot in common: Both taught at Oxford, both fought in World War I, and both preferred not to spell out their names. Their relationship was friendly for years, but turned famously fraught. Through late-night conversations, Tolkien, a religious Catholic, convinced Lewis to return to the faith; Lewis’ writing took off afterward, and he’s now best known for his books that are instilled with Christian themes, like the Narnia series and The Screwtape Letters. But Lewis then became a much-criticized unofficial spokesman for Christianity, which strained his relationship with Tolkien and Oxford. And while Tolkien struggled over the Lord of the Rings manuscripts for years, Lewis’ Narnia books were bestsellers.
Tolkien & Lewis could end up in direct competition with Tolkien, a project from Fox Searchlight and Chernin Entertainment. That movie, announced last year, is supposed to be a biopic of Tolkien, covering his time in World War I and as a professor, but no budget or director has been announced.