Middle-earth is coming to the small screen courtesy of Amazon Prime. Way back in November 2017, news broke that a Lord of the Rings TV show was in the works for the streaming service, and it quickly became clear that Amazon was willing to shell out the big bucks to bring the legendary Lord of the Rings characters to television. Now, Amazon Studios head honcho Jennifer Salke has revealed more of what's in store with the Lord of the Rings project:
Despite all the noise around Lord of the Rings, the deal only closed like a month ago. But in the meantime, I've sat with Simon Tolkien for a couple of hours, and (Amazon TV executive) Sharon (Tal Yguado) has spent tons of time with them. She had spent the last couple of months meeting anyone who had said, I'm really passionate about it and I want to get in and talk about the show and what's possible. I think you'll see us honing in on a strategy in the next month, which might involve a group of writers.
Apparently, Jennifer Salke and others at Amazon are hard at work to deliver a Lord of the Rings TV series, even bringing in Simon Tolkien -- a.k.a. the grandson of the legendary J.R.R. Tolkien who penned the original novels -- to talk out a strategy. Her comments indicate that no writers have officially signed on at this point, so the show is undoubtedly a ways off from a script. While news of Amazon's intent to bring Lord of the Rings to TV (and pay a hefty price for it) broke months ago, the details of the deal were evidently only finalized recently.
Amazon is reportedly prepared to spend around $500 million on the two seasons that have been ordered so far, with $250 million for the rights to the saga and production and marketing potentially raising the cost to upward of half a billion dollars. That's quite a lot of money for a TV show, especially one just starting out. For comparison's sake, Game of Thrones is also enormously expensive in its saga storytelling, but it took a few years for Game of Thrones to really earn the incredible budgets. For Amazon's sake, we have to hope that the investment pays off. The good news is that the books and especially the movies courtesy of Peter Jackson could mean that any Lord of the Rings series has a built-in audience.
Clearly, there'll be someone in charge, but it involves the estate and Peter Jackson, and there's a lot of conversations. . . . The Peter Jackson conversations, right now we're right in the middle of them. It's like, how much do you want to be involved, how little? I know there's been some discussion, and he's even said some things, but as far as I'm aware, the latest is that we're just in a conversation with him about how much or how little he would be involved.
Nothing about Peter Jackson's involvement seems set in stone at this point, but it sounds like the door is open for Jackson to contribute as much as he desires, which would make sense. His Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films were hugely successful; if he can bring even a little bit of that magic touch to Amazon's version of Middle-earth, viewers could be in for something truly special. Given that one Lord of the Rings film actor hasn't ruled out reprising his role for a TV show, perhaps there will be similarities in the casts as well. That said, other members of the film cast have indicated that they're not on board with reprising their roles, and some were more polite than others.
Of course, part of what made Peter Jackson's original trilogy so breathtaking was the scenery and sets in New Zealand. According to Jennifer Salke, the TV show could return to New Zealand:
I think we might be in New Zealand. I don't know, but we're going to have to go somewhere interesting that could provide those locations in a really authentic way, because we want it to look incredible. There's no shortage of ambition for the project. We'll go where we need to go to make it happen.
It's likely going to be a while before we get to see Middle-earth on the small screen, but stay tuned to CinemaBlend for the latest updates on Lord of the Rings. For some viewing options on Amazon while we wait, check out our 2018 Amazon Prime schedule. If you're in the market for some broadcast series as well, be sure to take a look at our summer TV premiere guide.