Television rights to Middle-earth’s most popular adventure, LotR, has recently been purchased by the online shopping monger Amazon. The company division Amazon Studios is based in Santa Monica, California, and is a television network that produces original films and TV programs for international audiences. Founded only seven years ago, it has recently built momentum with projects such as Mozart in the Jungle (2014-present), Last Flag Flying (2017), and now the famous Middle-earth epic. Amazon plans to stream their Tolkien show through Amazon Prime for their multi-season contracted project.
If you don’t know what The Lord of the Rings is, you’ve probably been living in a hobbit hole. The popular fantasy novels have gained unprecedented international acclaim, which began in the 1950s when “Fellowship of the Ring” was published. The book, published in three volumes, has often been considered the biggest influence on modern fantasy and fictional literature as a whole. The first film adaptation was when the now multi-billion dollar franchise was licensed in the 1960s. However, Peter Jackson’s three-part adaptation in the early 2000s has been the most widely appreciated version, earning almost $3 billion at the box office and taking home 17 Oscars.
Making more content for a very dedicated fanbase has its pros and cons. While creating new and fresh takes on the beloved world and characters can make for a very entertaining outcome, there are also numerous ways to permanently screw up the said beloved world and characters on public television. This would inevitably draw the ire of many a dedicated fan, potentially ruining the success the show could have in the coming years.
Although the exact storyline in LotR will not be covered in Amazon’s series, viewers can expect lots of familiar content, from J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous fictional world. For example, the series will be taking place around the time of LotR and The Hobbit in the Third Age. This seems to be a wise move, given that Jackson’s mega-successful films are barely 15 years old and The Hobbit films wrapped up less than three years ago. The fantasy fiction community has speculated much of the series will be exploring known Middle-earth characters and regions, such as Elrond and Rivendell, but will also be taking risks as to cover details in the Legendarium which have little to no public exposure.
Representatives from Tolkien Estate/HarperCollins have expressed their excitement and approval for the new major project. Matt Galsor shares that, “the team at Amazon Studios have exceptional ideas to bring to the screen previously unexplored stories based on Tolkien’s original writings,” which give hints as to what the focus and direction of the television series will be. At this time, there has been no cast announced. Galsor also commented that, “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”. Pressure is on for Amazon’s production team for this project, who fully acknowledge the cultural impact made by Lord of the Rings and related works.
-Benjamin Johnson, Contributor