It seems like Hollywood is ready to return to Middle-earth. According to an exclusive report by Variety, Warner Bros. Television and the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien are in talks with Amazon Studios to develop a series based on the landmark fantasy novels by the late author.
Sources with knowledge of the situation say that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is personally involved in the negotations which are still in its early stages. Bezos, known to be a fan of high fantasy and sci-fi, is implementing a new programming mandate – he is steering Amazon Studios away from niche, naturalistic dramedies such as Transparent and Mozart in the Jungle and more towards more large-scale genre productions not unlike HBO’s Game of Thrones.
This development comes at an interesting time for all parties involved. It’s just four months after Warner Bros. and the Tolkien estate settled a US$80 million lawsuit after a five-year court battle. It involved a dispute over profits made from the film franchise that consisted of The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King.
Amazon is also still recovering from a mini-exodus of top executives including former President Roy Price, who left after being suspended due to allegations of sexual harassment.
Amazon Studios is slowly but surely joining the ranks of other digital content networks such as Netflix and Hulu, making a name for itself as a producer of quality media content after the critical success of Transparent. And as much as we would love to see more solid programmes from them as well as more of Tokien’s alluring universe, one can’t help but wonder if this new series is necessary.
Director Peter Jackson mined most of the material from the original books to make his sprawling Lord of the Rings trilogy and even stretched out The Hobbit to produce another trilogy of films a few years later. The first trilogy went on to garner numerous awards and has made such a deep impact on pop culture to the point of being widely considered the definitive adaptation.
So unless the series is going to focus on other narratives or aspects of the Tolkien expanded universe, we’re not entirely convinced it makes much sense to do this all over again for the small screen.
What do you think of a potential Lord of the Rings TV series, geeks? Share your thoughts below.