Warner Brothers and Amazon developing a Lord of the Rings TV show


Television


Well, okay.

Warner Brothers and (allegedly) the Tolkien Estate - I suspect they mean the TV rights-holders at Middle-earth Enterprises and made a mistake - are developing a new TV show based on THE LORD OF THE RINGS. Warners are offering a multi-season adaptation of the book with a bonkers upfront rights cost ($200-250 million) and a guaranteed budget of $100-150 million per season.

HBO have already turned them down, with Netflix and Amazon now in the running. Amazon are apparently close to signing a deal: Jeff Bezos is personally involved in negotiations and he wants a massive, high-profile GAME OF THRONES-level project to attract attention to Amazon TV.

Reception to the idea so far appears to have been cool. It is, after all, only three years since the Peter Jackson movieverse exited our screens and the LotR movies are still widely considered the definitive adaptation. Although a TV version could add back in elements missed out from the book, it's questionable if the story needs, say, 24 or 36 hours to tell rather than the 11 it already has covered in the films' extended editions. It's also doubtful if a TV version could match the films' production design, spectacular location filming, musical score or the quality of the actors involved.

A LotR remake is inevitable at some point, but that point is more sensibly several decades from now, not just fourteen years after the previous version finished screening. It'll be interesting to see if Amazon go for this, considering they could make 6 or 7 other shows for the same pricetag.


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This can only end in tears.

Dark Archive

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At least Lord Of The Rings, unlike Game Of Thrones has an ending.


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I'd prefer they just do the Simillarion instead.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I had kind of assumed they wouldn't just be readapting the trilogy...if they are I agree...I don't really see a need for a tv show given that the movies were a fair adaptation.


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Exactly! If they're going to adapt Middle Earth stuff, make it less about the Third age and maybe more the 1st Age or something.


I believe the rights are held differently. The LotR/Hobbit rights were sold long ago. The Estate hasn't been open to licensing anything else.


I thought they had access to everything. IE the Estate, not the media.


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Thomas Seitz wrote:
I thought they had access to everything. IE the Estate, not the media.

Middle-Earth Enterprises owns the rights to the Hobbit and LotR. The Estate retains everything else.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Trolling At The Movies wrote:
At least Lord Of The Rings, unlike Game Of Thrones has an ending.

8th series of GoT is the last. So the series will have an ending even if the books don't (yet - although I'm not hopeful since Martin will almost certainly die before he completes it at his current work-rate).

The only Jackson adaptation I really like is of the Fellowship of the Ring (the other two were a bit daft, he pretty much left out all the bits I liked and added bits of his own that jarred, and frankly the less said about his elongated version of The Hobbit the better) so I'm a bit surprised to see his stuff described as 'definitive' considering how much he mucked about with the source material. I'd only really be that interested if they actually tried to adapt the books in a closer, less popcorn-y way that actually respected what the books were trying to do, as opposed to the 'woo-hoo! look at my computer graphics budget!' style of Jackson. TV might be better at doing a quieter and more thoughtful adaptation which might be, y'know, actually more definitive. Or they might just throw in gratuitous sex like they did for GoT...


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Quote:
I thought they had access to everything. IE the Estate, not the media.

It's a bit confusing. The Tolkien Estates aka Tolkien Enterprises are the Tolkien family, headed by Christopher Tolkien, who is the literary heir and executor of his father's works. The Tolkien Estate has never sold the film rights to THE SILMARILLION, UNFINISHED TALES, CHILDREN OF HURIN or BEREN AND LUTHIEN (i.e. all of Tolkien's posthumously-published works), so those stories remain unavailable.

Middle-earth Enterprises is a rights-handling company set up by producer Saul Zaentz, who bought the rights in perpetuity to THE HOBBIT and THE LORD OF THE RINGS from J.R.R. Tolkien in the late 1960s. This company licensed the rights to Rankin Bass (to make the animated HOBBIT movie in 1977 and the animated RETURN OF THE KING in 1980), Ralph Bakshi (to make the animated LORD OF THE RINGS in 1978) and Warner Brothers/New Line (to make Jackson's LotR and HOBBIT movies). They're also the company that licenses the rights to make video games, board games etc based on those two novels alone.

The original article says that the Tolkien Estate is directly involved. That seems unlikely. More likely is that they meant Middle-earth Enterprises. The fact that only LotR is on offer reinforces that (THE HOBBIT's rights are likely still tied up with the Jackson movies and have a few more years left to run before they revert to Middle-earth Enterprises).


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Interesting side note, Zaentz was the producer of many of Creedence Clearwater Revival's albums and was involved in numerous legal battles over music rights with John Fogerty.


Well I figure if the original CCR lineup ever played together again...it will be some time in the afterlife maybe. After Hell freezes over maybe.


Well, after they broke up the whole band got in a bad fight over royalties. John Fogerty has this reputation of being a really nice guy, but he can be really petty when the mood hits him, at least back in the day. When his brother Tom was dying of cancer he asked John to come visit him in the hospital and he refused to go.


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*thumbs down*


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I remember the old MERP game put put by ICE, Including the crazy fumble tables 'Trip over imaginary deceased turtle'


Oh man waste of money. Love me some fellowship, but two towers and return of the king suck. Cant see this doing well.


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What??!!! Return of the King was awesome! :)


....and heeere we go... :)


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regardless of people's opinion of the Lord of the Rings movies, they are way too fresh in people's minds to try a different adaptation of the book.

That being said, having just finished re-reading the Lord of the Rings, I don't know how you could have done a better adaptation that would actually sell tickets. Parts of the book drag on/ having little relevance to the overall plot/ introduce characters unconnected to the main story. In order to get decent pacing for movies, things had to be cut/ re-organized.

The Hobbit on the other hand was a complete mess of an adaptation and should have been max 2 movies, I am pretty sure they only decided to do 3 after they had already finished the first.

If this show goes forwards I think doing anything else in the setting other than the main story/ stories would be a better idea.


Somewhat off topic, but it is worth mentioning, since many people don't seem to be aware of this, that The Hobbit movies are bad for very good reasons. If you watch the director's commentary on the films, they admit to and constantly apologize for the quality of the movies. Jackson was brought on last minute to direct when del Toro left the project. Jackson didn't like del Toro's plans for the movie. So, in many cases, they were shooting on greenscreen not even knowing what the scenes were going to look like. Compare that to the meticulous prep that went into Lord of the Rings and you can see where things went wrong.


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They just needed to make ONE hobbit movie, not three.

Scarab Sages

Paizo Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I also think it too soon to do a LOTR TV Series. One of Tolkien's other books would be better suited at this time. Since The Silmarillion was more like several book ideas, it alone could could last several seasons.

If Amazon or any of them want to do a fantasy based series, I wish they would reconsider the Dragonriders of Pern. I was so disappointed when the development was stopped.


Amazon is too rich and influential anyway - doesn't hurt if the company burns some money by such an expensive show.

Anyway, it might still make a nice show, who knows...

The Exchange

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While I only saw the (incoherent) movie, I'm told that the TV version of Dune was much better. So there is a precedent for the subsequent TV version to be better.


Did Tolkien sell the television rights as well as the film rights?

Christopher Tolkien was unhappy with the movie adaptation and I'm sure would want to see a version more to his liking, if possible.

I would really like to see an accurate adaptation of The Hobbit. You could do it in a 3 or 4 hour miniseries.


Andrew Crossett wrote:

Did Tolkien sell the television rights as well as the film rights?

Christopher Tolkien was unhappy with the movie adaptation and I'm sure would want to see a version more to his liking, if possible.

I would really like to see an accurate adaptation of The Hobbit. You could do it in a 3 or 4 hour miniseries.

Sold most of the rights. Middle-Earth Enterprises has licensed games (video/rpg/board) and merchandising in addition to the films.

But only to the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. His other works are retained by the Estate. From what I've heard, it's unlikely they'd be licensed for anything in the near future.

Dark Archive

Press Release


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And the project is a go. It's greenlit. It is happening.

It sounds like this will be a prequel to THE LORD OF THE RINGS and, given New Line's involvement, it may take place in the existing movie continuity, although Team Jackson are apparently not involved.

More surprising, the Tolkien Estate IS involved and is working with Amazon to identify storylines from the canon they can mine for the series, although they are not granting any additional rights.

ARAGORN: RANGER OF THE NORTH, very-definitely-not-starring-Viggo-Mortensen, anyone?

Quote:
They just needed to make ONE hobbit movie, not three.

Agreed, but it's worth knowing how exactly things developed.

Warner Brothers wanted three movies, no less. Jackson and Del Toro came up with this idea that they would make a two-movie version of THE HOBBIT and a third "bridging" movie linking THE HOBBIT to LotR. WB liked the idea and the project went forwards with this in mind. But then they got cold feet and decided it was too risky to use original material for the third movie. They also wanted a gradually escalating series with a massive climax in the third movie, like LotR.

Del Toro was already annoyed by the delays, so when he was told it now had to be three movies based on THE HOBBIT alone it was very easy for him to walk. Jackson then tried to either call time on the project, put it on the backburner until he could deal with it personally or find another direction of his choosing, but WB were adamant they were pressing ahead regardless and were in discussions with other directors, including Zack Snyder (which sounds like it was an empty threat, as Snyder was already attached to the DC Universe at that point, but still).

Jackson then felt he had to come on board and make three films. That doesn't excuse some of the mistakes he made in that process - there was no need for the amount of greenscreen, lack of location filming or some of the more rubbish moments of invention - but I think it's understandable how things went so wrong given the situation.


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???

:I

Scarab Sages

Paizo Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I would say it is going to be set during the war against Angmar.
This is when the 9 kings who fell under the sway of Sauron came back during the early part of the Third Age and attacked the Numenoreans.


Well at least the Witch King will get some love...


Pathfinder Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I thought the TV series was supposed to be set between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings?


It might but I thought the Witch King was still a thing...


Well a prequel to Lord of the Rings sounds better than trying to adapt the Silmarilion or a remake of the Lord of the Rings. Hopefully with the direct involvement of the Tolkien Estate things don't go too far off the rails. Though given Christopher Tolkien's views on adaptions it could be a mess in the other direction.


Thomas Seitz wrote:
It might but I thought the Witch King was still a thing...

If it's Aragorn, it's long after the fall of Angmar.

The Witch King is still around of course, but the Nazgul were pretty much only active in and around Mordor until the LotR.

Aragorn's off adventuring for most of this period, though we don't know exactly what he did.
From the Tale of Years:

Quote:

2931: Birth of Aragorn, son of Arathorn II and Gilraen

2951: Sauron reveals himself in Mordor, and starts raising Barad-dûr anew. Estel, later known as Aragorn, comes of age and is told about his heritage.
2956: Aragorn first meets Gandalf the Grey
2957–2980: Aragorn as Thorongil serves in the armies of King Thengel of Rohan, and Steward Ecthelion II of Gondor
2980: Arwen pledges her hand in marriage to Aragorn; Aragorn, in the service of the Steward of Gondor Ecthelion II leads a taskforce south and kills the Captain of the Haven, ruler of Umbar;
3001: From now on Aragorn and Gandalf intermittently hunt Gollum
There's a little more detail in the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen:
Quote:


Then Aragorn took leave lovingly of Elrond; and the next day he said farewell to his mother, and to the house of Elrond, and to Arwen, and he went out into the wild. For nearly thirty years he laboured in the cause against Sauron; and he became a friend of Gandalf the Wise, from whom he gained much wisdom. With him he made many perilous journeys, but as the years wore on he went more often alone. His ways were hard and long, and he became somewhat grim to look upon, unless he chanced to smile; and yet he seemed to Men worthy of honor, as a king that is in exile, when he did not hide his true shape. For he went in many guises, and won renown under many names. He rode in the host of the Rohirrim, and fought for the Lord of Gondor by land and by sea; and then in the hour of victory he passed out of the knowledge of Men of the West, and went alone far into the East and deep into the South, exploring the hearts of Men, both evil and good, and uncovering the plots and devices of the servants of Sauron.

I'm not really sold on this premise. The parts of the movies I liked least were those made up out of whole cloth. I don't have a lot of faith in them being able to do this well.


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They should focus on Tom Bombadil.


Orville Redenbacher wrote:
They should focus on Tom Bombadil.

If they want to burn piles of money, there is a very good reason that he was not used in the movies.

Dark Archive

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Werthead wrote:
It sounds like this will be a prequel to THE LORD OF THE RINGS [SNIP]

Lord of the Rings: Rogue One.

(Hey, maybe we'll get to see Bandobras Took take off of a goblin's head with a club and invent the game of golf!)


Aw. I LIKED Tom. He was coool! :)

Set,

Well if they do that, I'd suggest they run with Sauron building up power in Angmar as the Necromancer. :)


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Maybe explore Dol-Gulder(?) when Sauron was the necromancer. I remember an old MERP module that detailed it.


That's what I was thinking, Manny.


yeah I think the movies pretty well gave me all I wanted of LOTR I would watch a tv adaption of the simarillion as long as it was high budget.

Dark Archive

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In Light of the current political climate, Sauron 2020.


HA! Nice find Baron. :)


Peter Jackson in talks to join Amazon TV project.

My guess is as producer and maybe writer/director for the first episode (I doubt he wants to commit to another decade or more in Middle-earth, especially after the HOBBIT experience), but it does mean that the new series will likely take place in the movie continuity, might use Weta to do the effects etc.

Also new information: the Tolkien Estate signed a new deal to allow Amazon to move forward with the project, after it turned out it was ambiguous if the 1968 film deal included TV rights. This is massive, the first time the Estate has agreed to sell - or, from the sound of it, loan for two years - new visual adaptation rights to any Tolkien material. This may make them more amenable to leasing the Silmarillion/UT/HOME rights later on if this project works out to their satisfaction.

We also now know that the LotR TV series must enter production by November 2019 at the latest, which tracks with Amazon's plan to get it on air by the end of 2020.


Quite likely because Christopher Tolkien resigned from the board of the estate last year, which I wasn't actually aware of until now.

That likely changes everything.


Whoa! O_O

Scarab Sages

Paizo Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

If memory serves, Tolkien wrote that places other than Rohan and Minas Tirith were attacked by Sauron and his allies.
Jackson even mentioned it when Legolas tells Gimli that he fears even the Dwarves were having problems.

Maybe the TV show will center on Dale, Erebor and Loth Lorean.
Also, even though Jackson didn't mention it, there are still Dunedain north of Bree in Arnor.
Gondor is also bigger than just Minas Tirith; it encompasses all of the White Mountains south to the Bay of Belafas and along the river Anduin.
Plus there are other human cities/settlements that were alluded to in both The Hobbit and LotR.


I hope it's centered on the Dunedain and not dwarves/elves/halflings... it would draw better actors to the project (who usually seek 'real_face' time in a show and not hidden behind make-up) and save the CGI budget for the bad guys / boss fights.

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