Amazon Studios reaches deal for Lord of the Rings TV series
LOS ANGELES, November 13, 2017 — Amazon’s streaming service will soon be bringing the J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy world to television, committing to multiple seasons. The television series will take place before the 2001 feature film “The Fellowship of the Ring,” which kicked off the trilogy directed by Peter Jackson.
This is Amazon’s attempt at creating a hit fantasy series that can match the caliber of ‘Game of Thrones.’ The deal reached is rumored to be close to $250 million, acquiring global TV rights to ‘The Lord of the Rings.’ The series will be produced by Amazon Studios in cooperation with the Tolkien Estate and Trust; HarperCollins; and New Line Cinema, a division of Warner Bros. Entertainment, which produced the hugely successful LOTR movie franchise.
The Tolkien estate had been shopping the project and had approached Amazon, Netflix and HBO. The estate requested an upfront rights payment said to be in the $200 million-$250 million range. This cost is just for the rights and does not include any costs for talent, production and development.
The Lord of the Rings has become a cultural hit across all generations of fans through literature and the big screen. Amazon Studios Head of Scripted Series Sharon Tal Yguado released a statement:
“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.”
The series will follow new storylines preceding ‘The Fellowship of the Ring.’ According to Amazon Studios, there are some creative restrictions imposed by the rights holders on what can be done and what can’t be done in a LOTR TV series. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has been hands-on when in came to making this deal and now making calls to agents and attending various meetings.
This is one of the biggest deals Amazon Studios has made over the years: $80 million for the six-episode Woody Allen show Crisis in Six Scenes, $70 million-plus for Matt Weiner’s eight-episode The Romanoffs and $160 million for two seasons of David O. Russell’s series, which now has been axed after about $40 million spent.
The original film series was launched in 2001 at the Cannes Film Festival and immediately became a global phenomenon. The three films combined to gross over $2.9 billion worldwide. LOTR: The Two Towers was released in 2002, and The Return of the King arrived the following year, becoming only the second film to top $1 billion worldwide. That third installment won 11 Oscars, including Best Picture, Director and Adapted Screenplay. The previous two combined to win six Academy Awards in crafts categories.