The online giant battled Netflix for the rights last year and snagged a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, New Line, and publisher Harper Collins. That price tag is tiny compared to what the estimated cost of the production will be.
The deal was exceptionally tricky to finalize due to the number of hands the rights have gone through. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were sold to United Artists in 1969, then passed to MGM then to Miramax before landing with New Line who currently own the feature film rights. New Line doesn’t have the TV rights, so they’re using “material” from the Peter Jackson movies. Whatever that means. That doesn’t include wrangling the book rights and convincing the Tolkien estate that the project is worthwhile.
According to Hollywood Reporter, the negotiations have resulted in a 5 season commitment from Amazon, and an estimated $1 billion-plus price tag to produce those seasons.
That’s 1,369,863,013.7 potatoes. For a television show.
What’s not known at this point is what stories or characters the production will have access to. The world of Middle Earth has a lot to offer beyond what we’ve seen on screen so far – there are stories that the movies have not covered, and cultures we got a glimpse of that could be expanded. Or, something new like this suggestion from euansmith:
I fancy a series like “Sharpe”, but focusing on the adventures of Grishnákh and his company of Orcs during the War of the Ring. Alternatively, something set after the Fall of Mordor, with Rangers trying to clean up the aftermath and round up the remaining forces of evil.
There are possibilities there.
We also don’t know if Peter Jackson will be involved… and if it’s a good idea for him to be included at all.
High fantasy has become very popular in recent years thanks to a resurgence of Dungeons & Dragons, the popularity Game of Thrones, and geek culture becoming more mainstream. I get that every network and streaming service wants their own magical smash hit, but given the performance of the last three movies, this may not be the best choice. This is an expensive gamble for Amazon.
What’s your take on this billion dollar TV series?