Amazon goes insane: LOTR prequel series incoming

Evie

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No, we don't know the details of what "LOTR prequel" means, except an educated guess that they,re probably not remaking the Hobbit that quickly. But beyond that? Is it Balin's expedition to Moria? Aragorn's journeys as Thorongil? the hunt for Gollum on both sides? We haven't got the slightest hint, beyond the fact that they've made it clear they're letting Jackson's film stand as the definitive adaptation of the trilogy itself.

Heck, given the Tolkien Estate's apparent direct involvement in the deal (which they reportedly shopped around), there's the door open to this being set much, much, much further back in time - if they're actually involved, they might be letting some of the posthumous works out int he world. We might be looking at something long before the Lord of the Rings, perhaps even the Silmarillion itself.

In its quest to launch a hit fantasy series of the Game of Thrones caliber, Amazon has closed a massive deal — said to be close to $250 million — to acquire global TV rights to The Lord of the Rings, based on the fantasy novels by J.R.R. Tolkien. The streaming service has given a multi-season commitment to a LOTR series in the pact, which also includes a potential spinoff series.

The LOTR original series, a prequel to Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring, 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, which produced the hugely successful LOTR movie franchise.

No details about the deal were disclosed, but it believed to be dwarfing any TV series pact to date with a whopping price tag attached.

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 million-$250 million range, and I hear Amazon landed the rights by paying close to $250 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 is 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 million-$150 million a season.

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, Head of Scripted Series at Amazon Studios. “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.”

Set in Middle Earth, the television adaptation will explore new storylines preceding Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring.

“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,” said Matt Galsor, a representative for the Tolkien Estate and Trust and HarperCollins. “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.”

Given Amazon’s mandate to launch a big fantasy series of the scope of Game of Thrones, which comes directly from honcho Jeff Bezos and Amazon’s deep coffers, the company was considered the leading contender for a Lord of the Rings series. Bezos has been hands-on involved in the matters of entertainment division Amazon Studios following the purge of its top executives, led by Roy Price, and has been taking meetings and making calls to agents.

The Lord of the Rings deal eclipses some big-ticket series commitments Amazon has made during the past couple of years: $80 million for the six-episode Woody Allen show Crisis in Six Scenes, $70 million-plus for Matt Weiner’s eight-episode The Romanoffs and $160 million for two seasons of David O. Russell’s series, which now has been axed after about $40 million spent. (The last two series originally came from The Weinstein Co., which no longer has involvement in The Romanoffs)

The Tolkien estate and publisher HarperCollins filed the massive lawsuit in November 2012 against Warner Bros., its subsidiary New Line and Middle-earth Enterprises — a division of Rings’ Hobbit rightsholder the Saul Zaentz Co. — claiming copyright infringement and breach of contract over video games, online slot machines and other digital merchandising.

With the $80 million lawsuit settled in July, the two sides have gotten on better terms following the bitter feud. The Tolkien estate shopped the TV series with reps for feps for New Line Cinema. Warner Bros. TV, which would’ve been a logical partner, is not a studio on the LOTR series, which will be produced by Amazon Studios. I hear Amazon wanted to produce the series itself.

A LOTR TV series will provide corporate synergy for Amazon, the world’s leading book seller. The Lord of the Rings novels was named Amazon customers’ favorite book of the millennium in 1999. Still, that world already has been extensively explored on-screen with three great Lord of the Rings movies and three Hobbit films.

Launched at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival with The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Peter Jackson’s LOTR trilogy was a global phenomenon. Starring Elijah Wood, In McKellen, Liv Tyler, Sean Bean, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom and others, the three films combined to gross more than $2.9 billion worldwide. LOTR: The Two Towers was released in 2002, and The Return of the King arrived the following year, becoming only the second film to top $1 billion worldwide. That third installment won 11 Oscars, including Best Picture, Director and Adapted Screenplay. The previous two combined to win six Academy Awards in crafts categories.

http://deadline.com/2017/11/amazon-...tv-series-multi-season-commitment-1202207065/
 

Valka D'Ur

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I hope it works out for the fans, whatever happens. I know there are people who love these movies.

I've never read the books or seen the movies (found The Hobbit so boring I couldn't even make it to the third page).
 

CivCube

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I can't wait for the eventual "Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien" spin-off, starring Zach Galifianakis as the table of contents in Season One.
 

Kyriakos

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Hm... does this actually stand to not lose massively on the money it is said to be paid for it to materialize as a tv show?

I mean... Tolkien is mostly known in pop-culture due to the two works which already have been presented as movies.
 

gay_Aleks

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The Abridged Simarrilion In 10 Seasons
 

Synobun

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I would have preferred HBO to tackle this instead of Amazon but it's not the worst choice. I trust them to do it better than, say, CBS or AMC.
 

Terxpahseyton

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After The Hobbit I am ready for anything.
Imagine a person who has no patience for fantasy hogwash but you praise The Lord of the Rings and what a wonderful and special piece of movie history it was. Then this person decides to watch The Hobbit - and all your praise has been for naught!
Or even worse: they like both equally as much, forcing yourself to do a 180 and distance yourself from them.
So, things can only go up.
Hm... does this actually stand to not lose massively on the money it is said to be paid for it to materialize as a tv show?
Overlooking the problem how monetization could even be assessed with a service-mishmash like Amazon Prime, I am optimistic that any losses will be over-shadowed by all the other losses Amazon runs every year.
I think it is the goal of Amazon that a prime membership becomes as natural to have as a smartphone, and since that vision represents their future paradise of maximum profits, I suppose they are not afraid to throw as much money at it as they can, since if it sticks, it will still have been worthwhile.

Obligatory sequel suggestion: The Lord of the Parcels. One Market Place to rule them all...
 
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Serutan

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I've never read the books or seen the movies (found The Hobbit so boring I couldn't even make it to the third page).

Was there something specific you found boring, or was it just generally boring to you?
 

Zkribbler

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I hope it works,,,,but it will probably be like when David Soul was recruited to do a remake of Casablanca. :wallbash:
 

Leifmk

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The Abridged Simarrilion In 10 Seasons

You know that could have been made and could in the best case have turned out completely awesome, the Silmarillion is super-condensed and has enough material in it to expand into something of that size. Being basically Tolkien's take on the Old Testament, and we all know how many movies and other things have been spun off of that.

Probably not what's going to happen, though. We're not that lucky.
 

Countmonte8242

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A Silmarillion series is exactly what I want, I hope that's what this turns out to be. They would need some great writers to flesh it out, but so much potential there for epicness.
 

Takhisis

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There are so many stories from The Silmarillion that would make awesome shows, The Fall of Gondolin, Beren/Luthien and Turin Turambar come to mind but you're right, we're probably won't be that lucky.
No, our luck won't probably be that bad. The Peter Jackson films were bad enough. They might be good as films, but they are definitely neither the same as nor the same quality as the original books.
 

CivCube

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I'm still slightly in disbelief at how poorly the Jackson films have aged. Fellowship is cheesy but watchable; the rest is a sludge of endless close-ups and simplistic Howard Shore lietmotifs.
 

Kyriakos

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I'm still slightly in disbelief at how poorly the Jackson films have aged. Fellowship is cheesy but watchable; the rest is a sludge of endless close-ups and simplistic Howard Shore lietmotifs.

The material wasn't exactly high literature either, though. I mean, even the best director would still produce cringe moments with most of it. Though watching some of the films i do recall that (most of) the battles usually were ridiculous, with Legolas-Gimli being comedians and killing any sense this was a serious battle.
So while it could gain from having been more on the grim side of things, the material itself has inherent issues.
 

Evie

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Of course it's not great literature. It's not QUITE good enough at putting people to sleep.
 

Takhisis

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with Legolas-Gimli being comedians and killing any sense this was a serious battle.
That was one of the biggest drawbacks of the film series. The books are always written in a serious tone.
 

Lord Malbeth

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I just want some stories about Numenor, the war between Sauron and the Elves, and the War of the Last Alliance.

That is, I just want a Second Age television show.
 

Takhisis

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While I support your endeavours to keep [civ3] scenarios and also to keep LotR lore integrated into the game, I cannot agree with a TV show being made to butcher Tolkien's legacy.
 
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