Game of Thrones is one of the biggest shows on television, both in scope of production and in terms of cultural impact.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is on record as wanting his own Game of Thrones for Amazon’s streaming platform. And now, according to Variety, Amazon is negotiating to go straight to the biggest franchise of the genre with the goal of bringing a Lord of the Rings series to television.
Warner Bros. Television and the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien are in talks with Amazon Studiosto develop a series based on the late author’s “The Lord of the Rings” novels. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is said by sources with knowledge of the situation to be personally involved in the negotiations, which are still in very early stages. No deal has been set.
The studio and the Tolkien estate have been shopping a series based on the classic fantasy novels and their assortment of hobbits, wizards, and warriors, sparking a competitive situation from which Amazon has emerged as the frontrunner. Representatives for Amazon and Warner Bros. declined to comment.
Bezos being involved directly with the negotiations is fascinating, as you’d think he had more important things to do than negotiate content deals, but his involvement signals a few things. First, he clearly values the idea of an event series, and thinks it’s a must-have for Amazon’s original content division. Second, any deal with the Tolkien estate is likely going to be an expensive one, which he’d have to be consulted on regardless. And finally, it’s a reminder that Amazon Studios is down some key personnel.
Last month Amazon Studios flushed its executive ranks, with president Roy Price, head of scripted Joe Lewis, and head of unscripted Conrad Riggs all departing. Price’s departure came just days after he was suspended on the heels of a sexual harassment allegation made against him by a producer on the company’s original series “The Man in the High Castle.” Lewis and Riggs’ departures followed a week later.
Bezos essentially has to negotiate, because there’s no one in that department on an executive level high enough to handle a deal of this scale and importance.
Even if Amazon does pull it off, it’s going to be a while before you’ll be enjoying Middle-Earth in serialized form. Development and production, even if rushed from the time of a rights deal, would still be some time in the future. Production on any show isn’t quick, and for a massive fantasy series with what would likely be incredibly high production values, it takes even more time.
Lord of the Rings, though, would seem to lend itself well to television. It’s one of the deepest and best-known fantasy worlds ever imagined. The only potential problem? So many people are familiar with the movies that any departure from the tone of Peter Jackson’s films might be a turnoff for viewers. The Hobbit trilogy suffered from this as well, with Jackson essentially forced to direct in an effort to replicate the original trilogy magic.
Still, Amazon clearly wants this, and it’s exciting to see what could happen. Even if it goes wrong, it’ll likely be a spectacle.