Amazon Returns to Middle-Earth for ‘The Lord of the Rings’ Prequel
The legend comes (back) to life
With Disney preparing its own streaming service to oppose Netflix, and HBO having the world’s most popular show in Game of Thrones, Amazon wasn’t about to sit by and let Amazon Prime be dwarfed by competitors. So they bought themselves the rights to some dwarves, a couple of elves, knights, wizards, orcs and hobbits to go with them: a tale known as The Lord of the Rings.
According to Deadline, the Tolkien estate has been shopping the idea around of a multi-season series, including potential spinoffs, set in Tolkien’s Middle-Earth for a while now. The estate reportedly offered it to Netflix and HBO as well, but ultimately the house that Bezos built paid a sum rumored to be somewhere between $200 million and $250 million.
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) November 13, 2017
That whopping sum is just for the rights, without any talent attached or any script written as of yet. The only thing Amazon has revealed thus far is that it will not be retreading the ground already covered in any of the successful film adaptations by director Peter Jackson of either The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit. According to a press release, “The television adaptation will explore new storylines preceding J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring.”
“Sharon and the team at Amazon Studios have exceptional ideas to bring to the screen previously unexplored stories based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s original writings,” says Tolkien Estate and Trust and HarperCollins representative Matt Glasor, after touting Amazon for “its longstanding commitment to literature.”
“The Lord of the Rings is a cultural phenomenon that has captured the imagination of generations of fans through literature and the big screen,” said Sharon Tal Yguado, Head of Scripted Series at Amazon Studios. “We are honored to be working with the Tolkien Estate and Trust, HarperCollins and New Line on this exciting collaboration for television and are thrilled to be taking The Lord of the Rings fans on a new epic journey in Middle Earth.”
Perhaps the new series will take some cues from The Silmarillion and The Children of Húrin, books comprised of stories and essays set in Middle-Earth that the author’s son Cristopher Tolkien (with help from Guy Gavriel Kay on The Silmarillion) posthumously edited into a coherent narrative. Or perhaps the writers will dive into the deep cuts from the 12 volumes of the also posthumously released The History of Middle-earth.
There’s plenty of unexplored material left for the potential show runners to mine, but they’ll probably be tying it as close as possible to the era in which the films are set. If only to make sure to capitalize on the humongous investment this and potentially additional series indubitably will take.
Who knows, maybe we’ll even see Sean Astin pop up as Samwise Gamgee somewhere again. That chance seems bigger right now than there ever being any #JusticeForBob.