Jeff Bezos’ finally got his hands on his ‘precioussss’ on Monday as Amazon has acquired the television rights to J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy series The Lord of the Rings.
And with the deal, rumoured to be worth a staggering $250 million, Amazon have carte blanche for all of Professor Tolkien’s books, characters and Middle-earth mythology.
So what does this mean? Well first – a reimagining of the books which kicked off the fantsay genre as we know it. Personally, I believe the best option would be adapting the The Fellowship, The Two Towers and The Return of the King into one, ten-hour season each.
Peter Jackson and Philippa Boyen’s concisely and impressively adaptated Tolkien’s monstrous tome but ten hours per book would allow characters to journey through more meaningful arcs, and we’d get to see extra events, locations, magic and ‘new’ characters.
While Jackson and Boyens’ took some risks, their scripts were more than 90% loyal to the source material. However many hours they choose, a television series will have to take more risks – not necessarily changeful, storytelling risks but even just creating ten hours of dialogue.
Worse, might the series be aimed more towards Game of Thrones-loving Millennials, like this?
For me, it will be the first ‘new’ Tolkien writing in decades. Trouble is, won’t every writer in Hollywood be working on the five Game of Thrones spin-offs?
If we aren’t all ringed out – Amazon could scour then Tolkien’s back catalogue for spin-off stories; perhaps backstories of beloved characters like Gandalf and Aragorn, as suggested here:
“The Lord of the Rings is a cultural phenomenon that has captured the imagination of generations of fans through literature and the big screen,” said Sharon Tal Yguado, Amazon’s new head of scripted programming.
“We are honored to be working with the Tolkien Estate and Trust, HarperCollins and New Line on this exciting collaboration for television and are thrilled to be taking The Lord of the Rings fans on a new epic journey in Middle Earth.”
Presumably laughing and rubbing his hands with glee, Matt Galsor, of the Tolkien Estate/HarperCollins, added:
“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… Sharon and the team at Amazon Studios have exceptional ideas to bring to the screen previously unexplored stories based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s original writings.”
As good as Jackson’s three movies were, they’ve not aged well in the fifteen years or so since they were released. They are now, at best, fair-to-middling. Therefore, the most exciting prospect is that these shows will have to look, feel and sound completely different.
Don’t throw any unexpected parties just yet, there’s a long journey before these shows will see the light of day, so don’t expect to see The Lord of the Rings on the small screen before 2020.