LEGO Games Studio Spent $1,000,000 on a Failed Lord of the Rings Game Pitch

The founder of British games studio Traveller’s Tales (best known for its LEGO games) has revealed that, in 2008, the company spent more than $1,000,000 on a failed pitch to make a tie-in game for Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit series.Jon Burton posted a video to his YouTube channel GameHut explaining the situation and featured footage from the tech demos used to pitch the game to Peter Jackson and then-director Guillermo Del Toro.

Instead of LEGO Games for which the studio was known, the team made photorealistic recreations of key scenes from The Lord of the Rings movies on Xbox 360 hardware, including Gandalf fighting the Balrog, Arogorn fighting Uruk-Hai at Amon Hen, and stealth gameplay where you’d play as Frodo in Deephallow Woods, avoiding the Black Riders. It’s very much worth watching the video, but here are some screenshots:

Traveller’s Tales’ Cancelled Lord of the Rings Game Images

The footage is seriously impressive, but according to Burton, the team “went way too far, and spent way too much money” on the project in order to impress Jackson and Del Toro at a pitch meeting in New Zealand.

Del Toro was apparently very receptive, but Warner Bros. ultimately decided that it “wanted a game that wasn’t directly based on the movie, but happened in the same universe at the same time,” a philosophy Burton disagreed with (but likely led to the birth of games like Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor). As a result, the game never saw the light of day, which is a massive shame as the more-than decade-old footage genuinely holds up in retrospect.

For more on Lord of the Rings, check out our article covering The Second Age, the setting for Amazon’s upcoming Lord of the Rings TV prequel. You can also check out some screenshots of Lord of the Rings: Gollum, the next-gen stealth game coming from Daedalic. Jordan Oloman is a freelance writer for IGN. Follow him on Twitter.

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