Amazon Adapting The Lord of the Rings into a TV Series
Amazon has acquired the U.S. and international rights to develop, produce, and air a television show based on J.R.R. Tolkien‘s The Lord of the Rings novel. Amazon has secured a multi-season commitment and the ability to create a spin-off TV series from the series they will create. The Amazon The Lord of the Rings TV series will air on Amazon’s paid streaming service Amazon Prime.
Unlike other streaming services, Amazon Prime gives its customers options that Netflix, Hulu, etc. are incapable of bestowing: access to free two-day delivery of Amazon products, free streamed music, access to Amazon’s digital book library (through the use of a Kindle), and more.
With The Lord of the Rings news, Amazon Prime just got a whole lot more attractive. It worked for CBS All Access. When CBS All Access released a new Star Trek TV series, Star Trek: Discovery, they saw all time high sign-ups for their streaming service. History should repeat itself with Amazon when they release the first few episodes of The Lord of the Rings TV series.
The deal between the Tolkien estate and Amazon for the new The Lord of the Rings TV series did not come cheap.
Amazon, Netflix and HBO had been approached by the Tolkien estate, who had been shopping the project. It came with an upfront rights payment said to be in the $200 – $250 million range, though some sources say the fee could be slightly below $200 million. That is just for the rights, before any costs for development, talent and production, in proposition whose finances industry observers called “insane.” It is a payment that has to be made sight unseen as there is no concept, and there are no creative auspices attached to the possible series. On top of that, the budget for a fantasy series of that magnitude is likely to be $100-$150 million a season.
If the Tolkien estate was able to get anywhere near their initial upfront rights demand, that was huge for them. When you take into account the large amount of cash Peter Jackson‘s Ring Trilogy made world-wide, $2.9 Billion, the Tolkien estate was in a unique position to ask for something “insane” and actually get it (or close to it). Whatever amount they got as an upfront payment (at least over $100 Million), they should send Peter Jackson a Thank You note.
They should also send a Thank You note to David Benioff and D. B. Weiss because of Game of Thrones. Amazon has calculated correctly that when Game of Thrones comes to an end, regardless of Game of Thrones spin-offs, that people will be thirsty for new adventure.
In addition, Amazon now knows that there is a market for a high-end, sword and sorcery TV series because of the success of Game of Thrones (and what that series did for and continues to do for HBO).
I have read that Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is determined to make Amazon Prime a player in the digital TV series sector. Bezos already took one large step in that direction by acquiring the future creative output of Robert Kirkman, the creator of The Walking Dead, the TV series that put AMC on the map. Now Bezos and Amazon have a The Lord of the Rings TV series.
The upcoming Amazon Prime Original [The Lord of the Rings] 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.
The new series will not be a retread of storylines that fans of Peter Jackson’s films have come to know, love, or loath (The Hobbit prequel trilogy). The TV series will instead be a prequel series that takes place before the six films.
Set in Middle Earth, the television adaptation will explore new storylines preceding J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring. The deal includes a potential additional spin-off series.
J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Simarillion, finished and edited posthumously by Tolkien’s son Christopher Tolkien, may be the source of the material used in the new TV series. It’s like the appendix at the back of Frank Herbert‘s Dune – red meat for hardcore fans of the story-line.
The Silmarillion comprises five parts. The first part, Ainulindalë, tells of the creation of Eä, the “world that is“. Valaquenta, the second part, gives a description of the Valar and Maiar, the supernatural powers in Eä. The next section, Quenta Silmarillion, which forms the bulk of the collection, chronicles the history of the events before and during the First Age, including the wars over the Silmarils that gave the book its title. The fourth part, Akallabêth, relates the history of the Downfall of Númenor and its people, which takes place in the Second Age. The final part, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age, is a brief account of the circumstances which led to and were presented in The Lord of the Rings.
There is no word yet on when The Lord of the Rings TV series will begin airing but you can expect it within the next three years, probably premiering after the Game of Thrones spin-off has already begun airing.
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