Amazon officially announces Lord of the Rings prequel series
VOD News | On 13, Nov 2017
Amazon is officially making a new Lord of the Rings prequel series.
The show, which was rumoured to be in negotiations at Amazon earlier this month, will be set in Middle Earth, the home of J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy epic, which has grown over the years from a world-renowned literary work to a blockbuster movie franchise. Its theatrical adaptations, from New Line Cinema and Director Peter Jackson, earned a combined gross of nearly $6 billion worldwide. With an all-star cast that included Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Sean Astin and Orlando Bloom, The Lord of the Rings trilogy garnered a combined 17 Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
Amazon’s new TV adaptation will explore new storylines preceding The Fellowship of the Ring, the first book in the trilogy. The deal includes a production commitment to multiple seasons, plus a potential additional spin-off series.
The series will be produced by Amazon Studios in cooperation with the Tolkien Estate and Trust, HarperCollins and New Line Cinema, a division of Warner Bros. Entertainment.
It shows that Amazon’s serious about its shift in focus away from smaller projects to bigger, mainstream productions that will generate as much watercooler buzz as possible. While some may debate the originality of choosing a fantasy franchise that has already been adapted for the screen, Amazon is putting its money where its confidence is: Deadline reports that the Tolkein estate (which approached Netflix and HBO) have asked for around $250 million for the deal. That does not include any development or production, but solely the rights to mount a Lord of the Rings TV show in the first place. With costs for an epic series likely to stretch to around $100 million a season, including talents and production itself, this is a gargantuan gamble for Amazon Studios.
“The Lord of the Rings is a cultural phenomenon that has captured the imagination of generations of fans through literature and the big screen,” says Sharon Tal Yguado, Head of Scripted Series, 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.”
“We are delighted that Amazon, with its longstanding commitment to literature, is the home of the first-ever multi-season television series for The Lord of the Rings,” adds Matt Galsor, a representative for the Tolkien Estate and Trust and HarperCollins. “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.”
The show is expected to premiere in 2020.
Amazon in talks for Lord of the Rings TV series
4th November 2017
Amazon is in talks to develop a TV series based on The Lord of the Rings.
Amazon Studios has been undergoing a tumultuous time in recent months, as the online giant’s TV and film arm has parted ways with a wave of executives. That was kick-started by Roy Price, who was initially suspended after an allegation of sexual harassment from a producer on The Man in the High Castle. Shortly after, Amazon’s head of scripted, Joe Lewis, and head of unscripted, Conrad Riggs, also departed.
Heather Schuster is now Amazon’s head of unscripted, with Tracey Lentz appointed head of creative unscripted and Sharon Tal Yguado in charge of all scripted series. They are working alongside Albert Cheng, who was appointed as Price’s interim replacement.
The major reshuffle also comes at a time when Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has been pushing for a change in focus at Amazon Studios, with Bezos wanting to move away from niche projects, such as award winners Transparent and Mozart in the Jungle, and develop programming with a wider international appeal. That shift has seen both The Last Tycoon and Z: The Beginning of Everything cancelled, while deals have been made with genre stalwarts such as The Walking Dead’s Robert Kirkman.
A project involving The Lord of the Rings would fit right in with Amazon’s aim to reach a more mainstream audience. With Warner Bros. reportedly shopping around a series based on the novels, it is no surprise that Amazon has emerged as the frontrunner in a competitive bidding situation.
The negotiations mark a significant improvement in the relationship between Warner Bros., which produced Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings films (pictured above), and the Tolkein estate, after they settled a long-running lawsuit in July, which revolved around the use of characters from the films in various games. Variety reports that Bezos himself is involved in the negotiations with Warner Bros., although talks are still in the early stages.