Amazon Studios in Talks for a Lord of the Rings’ TV Series

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Middle Earth may be coming to your television screen! According to Variety, who were the first to report the story, Warner Bros. Television and J.R.R. Tolkien’s estate have been floating the idea of a Lord of the Rings‘ TV series based off of Tolkien’s novels.

Netflix, Amazon, and HBO were contacted about launching the series. However, HBO decided not to pursue the series based on the immense expenses attached to the deal, which many industry insiders described as “insane.” Currently, Amazon has emerged as the frontrunner to receive the deal, but they’re looking at a pretty hefty price tag in their future if the deal comes to pass.

The initial expenses for the project range from $200 to $250 million, and that’s just for the rights alone. For Game of Thrones, an HBO series which is about the same caliber in terms of production, it costs $10 million dollars to produce a single episode. The budget then for a fantasy series of this size most likely could end up being $100 to $150 million per season. That’s quite a big risk for a series that currently has no production team or writer associated with it that will guarantee it a future success.

Not only are the finances shaky, but the fans are divided on whether or not they even want another Lord of the Rings’ adaptation. As soon as the rumors of a Lord of the Rings’ TV series broke, fans took to Twitter to voice their understandably valid complaints. There already are three successful films that were adapted from The Lord of the Rings‘ book trilogy, including Peter Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Two Towers (2002), and The Return of the King (2003), and three more films adapted from the prequel The Hobbit, including An Unexpected Journey (2012), The Desolation of Smaug (2013), and The Battle of the Five Armies (2014).

As a fan of The Lord of the Rings myself, the only way to justify a new adaptation of Lord of the Rings for TV would be to focus on one of the lesser known J.R.R. Tolkien stories such as The Silmarillion or to show fans a new portion of The Lord of the Rings universe they never saw in the films, such as focusing more on events that occurred in the First or Second Age instead of the Third. However, those options may not be possible since the rights to the series do not include all characters and is therefore restricted.

Unlike Netflix and HBO, Amazon Studios hasn’t yet had a popular fantasy series with major strides of success. Despite the popularity of Amazon’s realistic shows Transparent and Mozart in the Jungle, Amazon, by the request of their CEO Jeff Bezos, has been attempting to gain more genre-focused programming and The Lord of the Rings‘ TV series might just be the hit show they’ve been searching for. Amazon has even canceled some of their current shows, including Z: The Beginning of Everything and The Last Tycoon in order to make room in the budget for a new fantasy series, as well as hired Sharon Tal Yguado as the Head of Event Series to supervise the development.

The Lord of the Rings‘ deal seems to have come at an inopportune time for Amazon since the president Roy Price, the head of scripted Joe Lewis, and the head of unscripted Conrad Riggs have all left Amazon. Price resigned as president at Amazon after receiving a suspension when sexual harassment allegations were made against him by a producer working on Amazon’s show The Man in the High Castle. Only one week after Price’s resignation did Lewis and Riggs follow suit. Ever since these executives left Amazon, Bezos has been involved in the talks for The Lord of the Rings‘ TV show himself.

On a related note, it may interest you to know that there already is a live-action TV Series based off of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. It’s a Finnish television miniseries that aired in 1993 called Hobitit, which centralized on the characters of Samwise and Frodo. If no deal is struck between Amazon and Warner Bros. Television, Hobitit may be the only way you’ll ever see a Lord of the Rings‘ television series. Start practicing your Finnish, precious.

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