November 20, 2017
On the highly likely scenario that Amazon will damage the world’s love for The Lord of the Rings
by Peter Clark
As the world learned last week from an Amazon press release, J.R.R. Tolkien’s most beloved fantasy world is coming soon to a Prime subscription near you. Right after you’ve stocked up on loofahs, you’ll be able to click over and immerse yourself in a brand-new series set in Middle Earth. Goblins, dwarves, hobbits, elves, ents — and let’s not forget the eye of Sauron, ever-watchful and malicious, taking power from all species at the expense of civilization… Hey now. That sounds familiar. Is Amazon trolling us with this shit?
While the deal gives Amazon broad television rights to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the deets are a bit sketchy. For starters, no stories or screenplays have been written yet, though Amazon has already dished out over $100 million dollars for the privilege of developing the franchise, according to Deadline Hollywood’s Nellie Andreeva:
Given Amazon’s mandate to launch a big fantasy series of the scope of Game of Thrones, which comes directly from honcho Jeff Bezos and Amazon’s deep coffers, the company was considered the leading contender for a Lord of the Rings series. Bezos has been hands-on involved in the matters of entertainment division Amazon Studios following the purge of its top executives, led by Roy Price, and has been taking meetings and making calls to agents.
According to Newsweek’s Emily Gaudette, Amazon is already committed to five seasons of the show, and likely planning to mine Tolkien’s notes, as well as tidbits of The Hobbit and The Silmarillion, two other important volumes set in Middle Earth. Peter Jackson, director of the successful LOTR film franchise, used a similar method to construct a more robust telling of The Hobbit in three overblown and drawn-out movies. Even actor John-Rhys Davies, who played Gimli in the original film series, has come out saying, “poor Tolkien must be spinning in his grave.”
Still, fans of Middle Earth know that there are many interesting directions a series could take. It could follow the rise of men in the second age of Middle Earth, for instance. Or we could see the greed of the dwarves in Moria firsthand. Or maybe we could visit the island of Valinor in the West! But while all these options are enticing, it stands to reason that Amazon is likely not going to pull this off. And even if they do, their calamitous spread over American industry will only be highlighted in the spread of their mordor-like stranglehold on a beloved fantasy franchise.
Peter Clark is a former Melville House sales manager.