A 'Lord of the Rings' TV series has been officially confirmed
After many weeks of rumors, Lord of the Rings is officially back! Amazon has paid an absurd amount of cash (around $250 million) for the rights to the series, beating out both Netflix and HBO for the series. And that's not all - the budget for each season is likely to be around 100 million dollars. Basically, it's a blockbuster film budget for one season, in the range of Game of Thrones.
Amazon Studios' Head of Scripted Series, Sharon Yguado, said: “The Lord of the Rings is a cultural phenomenon that has captured the imagination of generations of fans through literature and the big screen. We are honored to be working with the Tolkien Estate and Trust, HarperCollins and New Line on this exciting collaboration for television and are thrilled to be taking The Lord of the Rings fans on a new epic journey in Middle Earth.”
All indications so far point to a prequel, likely covering some of the material from Tolkein's wider Middle Earth mythology, including the Silmarillion, which included its own cosmology, Gods, theology and myths. In other words, this has the potential to be a genuinely great expansion on the film universe, as long as it avoids retreading material that has been done in the films. I'm not sure anyone is looking for a new recast of their favorite characters, like Gandalf, Aragorn and Frodo.
Yet, it always makes one nervous to have a new series come out in an old legendary franchise. The Hobbit films were widely considered to be a step down from the original trilogy, featuring less compelling writing, some very questionable pacing, and a lack of central focus. After all, a series of films called The Hobbit ended up not being about Bilbo Baggins much at all.
The original trilogy is still a classic, featuring some of the most insanely grand moments in film history, all under the stewardship of director Peter Jackson:
Still, Hollywood seems overly dependent on old ideas. Surely there must be a lot more fantasy series from the history of the 20th century worth adapting into films and series. The collected works of Ursula Le Guin, William Gibson, and Gene Wolf alone provide enough films to last for decades. Why the constant retreading of Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones...
Culture is just too repetitive right now. The most popular show right now, Stranger Things 2, also relies on 80s nostalgia. Everywhere, there's a turn to the past - and the recent past, at that. It all seems a bit much.
Still, I will likely be tuning into this series at some point. We've all forgotten the Ralph Bakshi animated Lord of the Rings films, but they were not terrible at all. Could this series end up the same way? Could it overshadow the Peter Jackson trilogy? Unlikely. But there's a lot on Amazon's plate right now, so expectations must be met!
In other television news, you can read about why the last season of Game of Thrones was not quite as good as any of the others.