lord of the rings tv show

Some more details have emerged about Amazon’s upcoming The Lord of the Rings TV show. A new report says the planned series has received a five season commitment, there’s already the possibility of a spin-off, and when all costs are factored in, the show’s budget could be more than one billion dollars. Whoa.

Five Seasons…and A Spin-Off?

The Hollywood Reporter has a detailed report about the Lord of the Rings series. We already knew Amazon paid $250 million for the rights alone, and that the show will be a prequel that explores new storylines that take place prior to the events of The Fellowship of the Ring in author J.R.R. Tolkien’s elaborate fantasy world of Middle-earth. Now even more details have come to light.

According to THR, Amazon’s deal with the Tolkien estate, book publisher HarperCollins, and New Line Cinema grants the streamer a five season commitment – as long as they’re in production within two years. The deal also includes a potential Lord of the Rings spin-off series, following in the footsteps of HBO’s Game of Thrones (the success of which Amazon’s Jeff Bezos desperately wants to emulate here).

What Could The Spin-Off Be About?

It’s admittedly still early to be speculating, but let’s do it anyway! Tolkien created a dense and intricate history of Middle-earth called The Silmarillion, which covered major events like the creation of the world, epic wars between races, political intrigue, the downfall of entire societies, dwarf and elvish history, and much more. There are dozens of options to choose from in there – even the recent Lord of the Rings video games incorporated characters from The Silmarillion like Celebrimbor, an Elvish prince who forged some of the rings of power. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a show (or two) about the creation of the rings, since that story would provide a bridge that leads directly to the movies.

Lord of the Rings TV show

Is Peter Jackson Involved?

The report also says that while a decision hasn’t been made yet, the Amazon show might “use material from the films,” which is why New Line Cinema was brought into the conversation. That’s a fascinating possibility – could that “material” be the New Zealand Hobbiton set that’s been turned into a tourist destination? Or is the Amazon show maybe angling to use the same production designs and costumes, and they reached out to New Line so they don’t get sued?

And speaking of the movies, director Peter Jackson may come on board as an executive producer. Jackson’s attorney “helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon,” and the ball is in the filmmaker’s court as to whether or not he wants to be a part of the show. If Jackson comes on, it wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility to imagine him directing at least a few episodes of the show.

To clarify, the talk of a billion dollar budget is just an estimation, but when you factor in the show’s sure-to-be-high production costs, visual effects, and casting for five seasons, it’s probably not far off. Will new customers subscribe to Amazon Prime just to watch this show, especially after Jackson’s tepid Hobbit trilogy? Amazon is clearly okay with dropping huge amounts of money to lure people in, and while I’m excited about the possibilities, I think who they hire to be the showrunner will be the biggest sign for fans of how they plan to treat this material.

My take? Give this to Philippa Boyens, the Oscar-winning writer/producer who co-wrote The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies alongside Jackson and Fran Walsh. Boyens is a die-hard Tolkien fan, and has the chops to bring this show to life. I’m anxiously awaiting Amazon’s decision, but hiring Boyens would likely put fans at ease as we wonder what the streamer plans to do with its adaptation of one of the most beloved literary worlds ever conceived.

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