The Amazon Original will feature stories that predate the book trilogy
That’s a shocker! Of course, recasting and reshooting the Peter Jackson adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s most famous works would likely fall flat among most audiences, who adored Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Viggo Mortensen and Orlando Bloom in the film trilogy. What does this mean, exactly? Well, it could be Amazon going off-book—a gamble that could cost the online sales mogul dearly. Alternatively, it could suggest that Amazon may have acquired the rights to segments of The Silmarillion, a collection of Tolkien’s notes about Middle-earth, edited a published posthumously by John’s son, Christopher, in ’77. Many of the stories contained in Silmaril take place decades or centuries prior to the Rings trilogy, as well as discussing the mythology of the author’s universe and—most importantly—the events that lead up to and caused the War of the Rings in the Third Age. Either way, it would be wonderful to see stories about our heroes or their forebears prior to the brunt of the stories!
We don’t know a lot of hard facts, but we do know it cost Amazon an arm and a leg
Though Amazon is a company with a history of sound business developments and investments, and this acquisition will likely pay off in the long run, it’s said that they paid $200,000,000 to pick up the rights to produce a Lord of the Rings series. That’s an incredible number—more than twice as much as any individual season of Game of Thrones, which it will inevitably be compared to ad nauseam—and that’s before production or casting for the show has even begun!
This is no surprise, of course: Christopher Tolkien–the executor of the Tolkien estate and owner of Tolkien’s intellectual property—has long been very careful about who he allows to handle adaptations of his father’s work, but most adaptations have been wild successes, from WB’s Middle-earth video game series to Peter Jackson’s film trilogies.
The series will be produced with the help of HarperCollins and New Line Cinema
It looks like Amazon’s really brought out the big guns for this one! They’ve enlisted the help of literary giant HarperCollins and film mogul and Warner Bros. Entertainment subsidiary New Line Cinema, and we hope that’ll pay off.
New York-based HarperCollins is one of the “Big Five” publishing agencies for literature, and has published such acclaimed novels as Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, Paulo Coelho The Alchemist, and even has experience publishing Tolkien’s work already with 2007’s The Children of Húrin and 2009’s The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún, both compiled posthumously by Christopher Tolkien.
New Line Cinema, meanwhile, produced the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film trilogies, as well as the more recent adaptation of Stephen King’s It, and 2015’s Straight Outta Compton. Suffice it to say, it looks like this series is in capable hands!
The decision to sell the IP rights to Amazon may have been a much-needed PR move for the online sales giant
It isn’t all good news, unfortunately: it seems likely that Amazon is trying to bolster positive PR in the wake of the resignation of several of its key members during the sweep of sexual assault allegations in the latter half of 2017.
Meanwhile, the Tolkien estate and Warner Bros. just settled an $80,000,000 lawsuit with Warner Bros. over the digital exploitation of their intellectual property! Citing a decades-old contract with the film publishing company, the Tolkien estate alleged that Warner Bros. had abused and misused the property that they were given the rights to. While the official details of the suit’s resolution were not made public, a Warner Bros. spokersperson stated that the two parties had amicably resolved their differences, and looked forward to working together in the future.
Sir Ian McKellan is eager to reprise his role, while Andy Serkis is uncertain that he wants to return
In an interview on Graham Norton’s Radio 2, Sir Ian McKellan stated that he had not yet been asked to reprise his role as Gandalf, but insisted that surely nobody else would be fit to play the part! We, of course, agree with Sir Ian. Meanwhile, Andy Serkis told The Hollywood Reporter that he would have to consider returning as Gollum should he receive the offer, suggesting that he had been a part of Tolkien’s media adaptations for most of his career and would prefer to work on other projects in the future.
There you have it, folks! Hopefully you’re as excited as we are about the new series, as we’re practically jumping for joy at the announcement.