On Monday, Amazon announced it had agreed on a multi-season commitment with the Tolkien Estate and Trust to produce a serialized version of The Lord of the Rings for Amazon Prime Video. HarperCollins and New Line Cinema will also collaborate on the TV adaptation of the epic fantasy book.
The announcement came after Jeff Bezos and creative heads at Amazon Studies reportedly changed their strategy regarding original programming on their streaming service. The new plan will be to appeal to a global audience with engaging shows that speak to a more diverse public.
More new series were announced alongside the latest take on The Lord of the Rings, including projects by renowned directors like Wong Kar-wai, and shows by Saturday Night Live alumni Fred Armisen and Maya Rudolph.
— Nick Brisbon (@NBrisbon) November 13, 2017
Amazon will explore untold Middle-earth stories
Amazon’s official press release establishes that “the television adaptation will explore new storylines preceding J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring.” The deal, which has been deemed ‘insane’ after some industry experts crunched the numbers, “includes a potential additional spin-off series.”
What the e-commerce giant might be hinting at here is that they will focus on exploring the unexploited, raw stories that were not featured in the 9 hours of the original trilogy. There is an extensive Middle-earth lore, as fans might be well aware, and the promise of a spin-off series sounds intriguing, to say the least.
While most are expecting 10-episode season adaptations of The Lord of the Rings, Amazon Studios might decide to delve into the story of some of their main characters before the events of the War of the Ring depicted in the films. There is also a chance some proposals arise to tap into other source material like The Silmarillion.
What else is coming to Amazon Prime Video?
Experts estimate the deal for the TV rights for The Lord of the Rings could have been worth $250 million. That’s just for the rights to produce original content based on the iconic franchise, meaning they still have to factor in production budgets, which could be also in the hundreds of millions per season.
Amazon, which has some critically acclaimed shows under its belt, invests a not-too-shabby $4 billion a year in original content. The sheer scale of this deal is expected to drastically ramp up costs for the entertainment division of the online sales behemoth, signaling perhaps troublesome news for the upcoming slate of programming.
Back in September, it was announced that Amazon was thinking differently about content creation, and ordered new projects by well-known personalities in the business. Some of these include another period piece, this time by the Chinese director Wong Kar-wai; three comedies, and a Seth Rogen comic book adaptation.