I love the Lord of the Rings films. I recently marathoned the extended editions and ended up exhausted and in a food coma. A few times I had to stop the films to embrace my inner hobbit. Eat food, drink some ale, and smoke some Old Toby. But the thing that stunned me was how much detail I missed the half dozen times I’ve watched them before. I never noticed the details in all the different armour, banners, and structures. The circular elements in Bag End, the Tree of Gondor in Berethor and Aragorn’s bracers, and the horses in the Rohirrim’s armour particularly. Even the special effects for Gollum and the hobbits still hold up to this day. That’s why I was nervous to hear Amazon planned to release a Lord of the Rings series.
At first, they were just rumours. ‘Amazon is going to make a Lord of the Rings series,’ they whispered. Thoughts immediately went to the most dreaded word for film fans: Remake.
I can’t imagine anyone else being Frodo or Aragorn, nor do I want to. Articles that recast for the films are fun to read, but I don’t actually want to see anyone replaced. Hollywood is ridiculous for rebooting properties every five years, (I’m looking at you Spider-Man).
Then it was announced that Amazon signed a $250 million deal for the TV rights to Lord of the Rings. They would be working with the Tolkien Estate and Trust, and HarperCollins Publishing. Matt Galsor, a representative for the Tolkien Estate and HarperCollins, said the team at Amazon Studios have ideas involving “previously unexplored stories based on JRR Tolkien’s original writings” preceding Fellowship of the Ring, with the possibility for a spin-off series.
So it’s not a remake, and the Tolkien Estate may be involved in some capacity. JRR Tolkien’s son Christopher has referred to Peter Jackson’s adaptations saying, “They gutted the book, making an action movie for 15-25-year-olds”. Hopefully, with the Estate’s involvement, we will have a product that fans of the books and films will be proud of.
The Tolkien Estate currently owns the rights to The Silmarillion. And there are many other Tolkien properties I would like to see turned into a series that taking place in Middle Earth. The Children of Húrin, The Tale of Beren and Lúthien, and The Adventures of Tom Bombadil to name a few. Tom Bombadil is a delightful character in the book and was sadly missed in the first film. As a fan, I wouldn’t be opposed to a series that fleshed out the history of the Dwarf Kingdom of Moria.
It’s not clear what exactly Amazon has the rights to produce, or how many liberties they will be taking with the source material. The world of Arda is so big Amazon could make a series similar to Twilight Zone and Black Mirror. Self-contained stories with completely different casts each episode connected only by the fact that they’re in Middle Earth. They could bring in an actor from the Lord of the Rings trilogy as a fan service as well. Whatever Amazon does, one off stories or epic story-arcs, this Lord of the Rings series is coming in on the tail end of Game of Thrones. If it’s going to do well, it’s going to have to forge its own voice. With the Tolkien Estate involved I’m hopeful.