One show to rule them all
When Peter Jackson first started planning The Lord Of The Rings films back in 1995, he couldn’t have imagined how it would dominate his life. Six movies, 21 Oscars and 23 years later we’re heading back to Middle Earth for a Lord Of The Rings TV series.
Amazon Studios are the lucky lot tasked with recreating Tolkien’s magic for the small screen. In November 2017, they signed a reported $250m contract with the author’s estate to make a multi-series show for television. Here’s what else we know about it:
What’s the release date for the Lord Of The Rings TV series?
No word yet. But given that it took HBO two years to produce the first season of Game Of Thrones, we shouldn’t expect to see anything before late 2019 at the earliest.
Who’s making it?
Amazon, Netflix and HBO had all been in talks for the rights, but in the end only one triumphed. Amazon Studios will produce the series in cooperation with the Tolkien Estate and Trust, book publishers HarperCollins, and New Line Cinema (a division of Warner Bros. who made the original Oscar-winning movies with Peter Jackson).
It’s interesting that the author’s estate will be so closely involved with production. In recent years, they were partly responsible for delaying Jackson’s idea for a set of Hobbit films directed by Guillermo Del Toro. They eventually settled the matter and the critically reviled trilogy went ahead. But just as An Unexpected Journey hit cinemas in 2012, they sued Warner Bros., citing copyright infringement and breach of contract over video games and other digital merchandising. The $80m law suit was settled in July, but the problems left a bad taste in the mouths of everyone involved. Why would they go back into business with New Line so quickly?
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How many series will there be?
Amazon has given a multi season commitment in the deal so it will definitely be more than one. They’ve spent reportedly $200-250m on the rights alone, so you can bet CEO Jeff Bezos is looking to milk this cash cow for every drop.
Any cast announcements?
We’re not at that stage yet. But Ian McKellen, who played Gandalf in the original trilogy, has expressed interest in reprising his role. Asked by Graham Norton on his BBC radio show if it was going to be annoying to have another pointy-hatted wizard around, McKellen replied: “What do you mean, another Gandalf?”
He added: “I haven’t said yes because I haven’t been asked. But are you suggesting that someone else is going to play it? Gandalf is over 7000 years old, so I’m not too old.”
What will the plot be about?
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The script hasn’t even been assigned yet, but there’s several avenues the writers could go down. We know the series will be a prequel to The Lord Of The Rings films, so that means anything prior to Bilbo handing over the ring to Frodo is fair game. That leaves them with a mere few thousand years of folklore to work with…
It’s unlikely that Amazon will decide to invent new, non-canon characters. Instead, they could tell the story of a young Aragorn – he’s already 87-years-old by the time The Fellowship Of The Ring begins. Failing that, the plot of recent novels like The Children Of Hurin or Beren & Luthien could be a good starting point. There’s also numerous video game plots that have been hugely successful with younger fans – multi-million selling Shadow Of Mordor is a good example. The point is: there are literally hundreds of possible plot-lines available that would require few big changes.