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Lord of the Rings Television

Amazon (and Netflix) Pursue a 'Lord of The Rings' TV Series (theverge.com) 236

An anonymous reader quotes The Verge: Amazon Studios has been looking for a way to duplicate HBO's success with Game of Thrones, and the company may have found a solution: adapting J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings into a TV series. Variety reports that the company is currently in talks with Warner Bros. Television and the late author's estate, and while discussions are said to be in "very early stages," it is clearly a high priority, with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos himself involved in the negotiations.

Amazon isn't the only one looking into the rights, according to Deadline, which reports that the Tolkien Estate is looking to sell the television rights to the iconic fantasy series to the tune of $200-250 million, and has approached Netflix and HBO as well. There appears to be some strings attached: the rights might not encompass all of the characters in the story. HBO has reportedly passed on the project.

"We can hear the pitch now," jokes The Verge. "It's like Game of Thrones, only with a series of books that are actually finished."

Amazon (and Netflix) Pursue a 'Lord of The Rings' TV Series

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  • by sheramil ( 921315 ) on Sunday November 05, 2017 @09:48PM (#55496401)

    So, no Tom Bombadil? Again?

    • by Zocalo ( 252965 )
      I dunno, seems like an ideal opportunity for a very thinly veiled bit of agenda pushing in support or opposition of the movement to legalise marijuana and other recreational drugs to me; depending on how you write the character you could easily go either way on that - or leave it more ambiguous to try and add to the discussion. A TV series has a lot more room for "extending the canon" (AKA "filler") and using it to provide some form of commentry on real world affairs, so I wouldn't count him out just yet.
      • I dunno, seems like an ideal opportunity for a very thinly veiled bit of agenda pushing in support or opposition of the movement to legalise marijuana and other recreational drugs to me...

        You may be thinking of "Tim Benzedrine", from the Harvard Lampoon's "Bored of the Rings", and his wife Hashberry.

    • by Freischutz ( 4776131 ) on Monday November 06, 2017 @03:42AM (#55497405)

      ...There appears to be some strings attached: the rights might not encompass all of the characters in the story. HBO has reportedly passed on the project.

      So, no Tom Bombadil? Again?

      With the Tolkien estate having caught the greed virus it's probably $250 million just for the rights to the basic story and then a long price list for every one of the main character you want to include, starting with 30 million for Gandalf, another 30 million for Frodo, 20 million for Aragon, 12 million for Legolas and Gimli and 5 million for each of the other company members. The right to show goblin and orc hordes is sold in batches of 10.000 for a million dollars each so if you want a 200.000 man army of orcs and goblins for the battle of the fields of Pelennor it's going to set you back another 20 million. Sauron appearances are sold time wise at a rate of 250.000 dollars per second (that includes showing just the great eye) but we'll throw in Samwise for free, just as a token of good will.

      But all sarcasm aside, perhaps Netflix, Hulu and Amazon should clue into the fact that there are other great works of fantasy and science fiction (The Expanse being an example of a really good one that came a bit out of left field for me when I found it in my Netflix recommendations list) and that they might be better off picking one of those rather than trying to flog the decomposing horse carcass that Peter Jackson and his gang turned LOTR and especially the slapstick riddled (three part!!) mess they turned The Hobbit into in the vain hope that the poor dead critter will pull the stone one more circle around the mill. I suppose that with Islamophobia being in vogue it will be a couple of decades before we get a good filming of the Dune trilogy but there is the Earth Sea trilogy, (Dare I say it) Northern Lights, ... I'm sure people here can ad a few dozen names to that list.

      • And how long before the property enters the public domain? It has to be getting close.

        • by Chris Mattern ( 191822 ) on Monday November 06, 2017 @08:24AM (#55498269)

          Not really. Copyright keeps getting extended, because Disney will do whatever it takes to prevent Mickey Mouse from going into the public domain. If we take the copyright on The Hobbit (published in 1937) as the benchmark, it doesn't expire until 2032, assuming it doesn't get extended again (which it likely will).

          • Mickey Mouse will not go into the PD, as there is no time limit of trademarks. Steamboat Willie should however be in the public domain a long time ago. Anything made prior to the 21st century should probably be in the public domain in fact.
          • by Altrag ( 195300 )

            I still don't get this. The character should be protected by trademark law which is valid until you stop using/enforcing it. I don't know why they (well, Disney specifically) feels the need to keep calling Mickey Mouse a copyright and screwing with copyright law. Steamboat Willy isn't exactly a big seller at this point and almost certainly never will be again. There must be something else they're trying to protect than just the image of their characters (that could be protected in other ways) or absurdl

        • Likely never, with the way copyright laws are today.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        The problem with Bombadil is that he adds basically nothing to the story, only serving to waste time explaining why this god-like being can't be trusted to look after the One Ring or do anything about the imminent destruction of the world he lives in.

        It's not really clear why he is even in the book, except perhaps to emphasise that the heroes really are the only chance to save the world, even if their plan doesn't seem like a very good one. But the whole book is full of stuff like that, e.g. if the eagles c

      • I'd like to see Amazon take on Gene Wolfe's solar cycle if they're going to blow a wad of cash on a tentpole series. It'd be pretty hard to get right, though.
      • I agree. Plenty of good stuff out there to mine for content. Can't wait for more Expanse.

        Having said that... The Shannara Chronicles. :p

        I was excited to see that the books had been made into a TV show... less so after I've watched it. I still watch it mind you if only out of stubbornness, that they made the damn thing so I am going to watch it.

        Anyway there is so much good stuff out there that has never been done, one can only hope they do it justice however. I have to think with things like Tolkin, it is mo

      • by nasch ( 598556 )

        I would be interested in the Eragon series done well. The movie was such a chopped up mess of bits and pieces from all the books if I remember right. They're each like 750 pages or something so plenty of material for a TV series.

    • by darthsilun ( 3993753 ) on Monday November 06, 2017 @05:32AM (#55497725)

      So, no Tom Bombadil? Again?

      Or Ghân-buri-Ghân?

    • by DrXym ( 126579 )
      This is Netflix we're talking about. If a story can be told in 8 episodes they'll make 16. And Lord of the Rings is an easy 3 seasons. So they'll make 6. It'll be thin, like butter scraped over too much bread as Bilbo would say.

      Tom Bombadil will probably get one all to himself, gaily prancing around the forest and singing for 50 minutes.

    • I'd be okay with that. That section of the book was particularly laborious for me to read through, I just couldn't get into the singing bits. It seemed gratuitously silly; not to mention rather pointless, because even though the ring has no effect on him, we're never told why.
      LoTR is not an easy read anyway.
      It'll always be an epic classic though, really have defined much of the modern fantasy genre, like what Jimi Hendrix or Jimmy Page is to classic rock.

  • Please no (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ayano ( 4882157 ) on Sunday November 05, 2017 @09:50PM (#55496417)
    To take a cherished series that already has a complete movie adaption? Either we're watching the events unfold with un-filmed scenes from the books at a slow rate... or we'll be getting non-lore spin-offs in middle earth.

    Both sound awful.
    • Re:Please no (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DontBeAMoran ( 4843879 ) on Sunday November 05, 2017 @09:57PM (#55496463)

      J.J. Abrams ruined both Star Wars and Star Trek. Let's make it a trifecta and also ruin LotR.

      ...

      "I feel a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of nerds suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly speechless. I fear something terrible will happen." - Darth Picard of Middle Earth

    • Re:Please no (Score:5, Interesting)

      by alvinrod ( 889928 ) on Sunday November 05, 2017 @11:27PM (#55496787)
      I don't think we need another adaptation of Lord of the Rings, but I think it would be fucking awesome to get a series that focuses around the Silmarillion. There's enough there to make several seasons worth of a show and you can easily use all of other Tolkien's works set in Middle Earth if the series is popular enough. By the time you get through all of that, perhaps move on to the Hobbit or Lord of the Rings, but when there's so much other wonderful material from the man out there, why retread the same ground, especially when the Peter Jackson movies were quite good for the time and still hold up rather well.
    • To take a cherished series that already has a complete movie adaption?

      I sort of see your point but the films skipped over large chunks of story (e.g. Saruman in the Shire), completely changed characters and rewrote events and locations so the timeline became impossible. If the TV adaption was more like the BBC radio series and less like the Hollywood action film trilogy it would be something quite different...although it's still probably a bit too soon after the films.

      • by jabuzz ( 182671 )

        Precisely. If we could just turning Aragon into someone full of doubt, and an elvish army turning up at Helms Deep, and the whole "wobbly" column crap in Moria. where the biggest WTF moments in the movies IMHO. Heck the flight from the Shire is utterly incomprehensible unless you watch the extended edition, which gets better but is still far from anything near the books.

        All you need to do is start with the BBC radio script and put it on the screen. Would be thousand times better than the movies.

  • by MrLogic17 ( 233498 ) on Sunday November 05, 2017 @09:52PM (#55496427) Journal

    Anyone who's comparing LOtR to GoT clearly doesn't understand anything about Tolkien and why he was writing his stories. ...and if you mess with something you don't understand, you will wreck it. Badly.

    • Anyone who's comparing LOtR to GoT clearly doesn't understand anything about Tolkien and why he was writing his stories.

      Indeed. GRRM has specifically said he set out for GoT to be a "what happens after LotR" kind of story -- to see how a kingdom falls apart after the happy ending.

      • Except what happened after LOtR is our history. Canonically our world is the LOtR world after the magic was gone.

    • ...if you mess with something you don't understand, you will wreck it. Badly.

      That explains everything Star Trek-related released after 2005.

    • Anyone who's comparing LOtR to GoT clearly doesn't understand anything about Tolkien and why he was writing his stories. ...and if you mess with something you don't understand, you will wreck it. Badly.

      They understand a lot about making lots of money. And really, that's all that matters when making a TV show.

    • I liked GoT, was excited when they turned it into a TV series; think they did a pretty good job. I'm annoyed that GRRM is too distracted to write now though. Wish the TV series waited until the books were finished.

      I thought LOtR was decent. Was excited about the movies coming out, although I wasn't too thrilled with the movies. Not at all excited about the TV series. I don't know why, but it sounds like they just want to drag it out and extend it and turn it into a many year epic. Personally, I'd rath

  • by Neo-Rio-101 ( 700494 ) on Sunday November 05, 2017 @09:53PM (#55496435)

    At the end of the new Lord of the Rings TV series, the hobbits must come up against a danger worse than Sauron.

    They must face off against the ghost of JRR Tolkien, whom they end up flogging to death.

    • No, at the end of the first series they defeat Sauron. It's the second series where they have to defeat someone even greater. However, Tolkien has that covered because Sauron was only a servant of Melkor so it will only be the third series when they have to get really creative!
    • LOTR TV series will stretch the last goodbye and farewells at the end of the story for the whole last season of 22 episodes.
  • aren't we beyond that? there's some sexual harassment suit in there somewhere.
  • by thedarb ( 181754 ) on Sunday November 05, 2017 @10:10PM (#55496523) Homepage

    I worry I'll never see it as I imagine it. If only I were a director!

  • by williamyf ( 227051 ) on Sunday November 05, 2017 @10:10PM (#55496527)

    Just Slice the three movies and the extra footage in a slightly different way, and ther eyou have it.

    If Amazon (or any other party), wants better material for a TV series, get the rights on "The Silmarillion"...

    Plenty of material, for many, many seasons, plenty of latitude for variation from book to TV (as it was not nearly concluded as is), more sex (including incest, like Game of Thrones), and no pesky comparision to the movies (with it's big budget actors and big budget FX)...

  • Enough already (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DontBeAMoran ( 4843879 ) on Sunday November 05, 2017 @10:13PM (#55496533)

    HBO has Game of Thrones? Alright.

    Unless all you're planning to do is steal their audience, it won't happen. Stop pandering the same audience over and over again. You need something different to grab the people who still don't have Netflix/Amazon Video/HBO Now/etc or who will subscribe to a second or third streaming service.

    Right now, there is a serious lack of real/good science-fiction series. The 100 is good but while it started out as science-fiction, it sort of derailed into a game of thrones clone. What next? A planet of the apes tv show reboot?

    If you don't want to take risks there's plenty of good, well-known science-fiction titles that could probably make a good tv show: Terminator (pick it up where The Sarah Connor Chronicles dropped the ball, it seems the show got cancelled just as it was beginning to be interesting), Predator (not purely science-fiction, but hey, it's a known title), Aliens (plenty of spaceships and colonies to be infested), etc.

    At this point, I wouldn't be surprised to see a reboot of Knight Rider done with a Google Maps car, a Tesla or something.

    Hell, talk to Valve and get the rights to make a TV show from Half-Life/Portal. GlaDOS is the perfect vilain you kinda root for, in secret. She's like a Bond vilain from the old movies.

    What about a comedy spy tv show? Make a show with the worst spies possible, something similar to Johnny English or Frank Drebin.

    ANYTHING except another fucking show with kings, swords and shitty politics and shit like that.

    • Unless all you're planning to do is steal their audience, it won't happen.

      Game of Thrones only has one season left, and it will only have 6 episodes. Granted, they will surely produce some other spinoff series based on GoT, however there will be a large group of viewers ready to start watching some other (similar) epic series from the beginning once GoT has wrapped up. The final season will not air for about a year, so that gives the LOTR series enough time to sort things out and begin production so it can air less than a year after GoT ends.

      Anyway what I'm saying is LOTR wouldn

    • Re:Enough already (Score:4, Informative)

      by I'm New Around Here ( 1154723 ) on Sunday November 05, 2017 @11:44PM (#55496835)

      At this point, I wouldn't be surprised to see a reboot of Knight Rider done with a Google Maps car, a Tesla or something.

      Just want to point out, they have rebooted [imdb.com] Knight Rider [imdb.com] a few times [imdb.com].

    • This is my biggest worry about the Kingkiller Chronicle adaptation that's been hinted at for a while. The network will be looking at it to bring over the GoT audience, and the story will absolutely fall flat if they try to force it.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      How about Buck Rogers? A society run by AI, lots of opportunities to contrast with modern times.

    • What about a comedy spy tv show? Make a show with the worst spies possible, something similar to Johnny English or Frank Drebin.

      Of course, there have been a few spy comedies. Some, like InSecurity [imdb.com], were not well loved, and others, like Chuck [imdb.com], were. They even tried to revive Get Smart as a TV Show [imdb.com], in the 90s. It didn't go well. A new Get Smart TV show could be amazing, but Steve Carrell's too busy to do a TV show, right now.

      For some reason, I don't feel like now would be the right time for a comedic spy show (other than the one taking place in the White House), but maybe we'll be surprised.

  • I guess since Game of Thrones is throwing away everything that made it different from all the other crap in the early seasons in favor of nonsensical spectacle it's only fitting to turn the nonsensical spectacle of the LOTR movies into a realistic television series.
  • It might suck less than years of glistening penises and ripping off every decent property like Anne McCaffreyâ(TM)s Dragonriders Of Pern.

    THATâ(TM)S the series Amazon or Netflix should do. At least the first trilogy.

    • by ChoGGi ( 522069 )

      For better or worse WB has the rights to it.
      http://www.hollywoodreporter.c... [hollywoodreporter.com]

      I'd also prefer a show, but a movie is better than nothing for now.

      • I think the term is 'squee'. I had no idea there was a movie adaptation in the works.

        I'd hope they follow the books, only put them in chronological order and clean up the inconsistencies caused by McCaffrey writing them out of sequence.

        And definitely tone down the 'strong woman except eventually she has to be rescued by a stronger man' vibe that many of the stories give off.

        And out of all of the stories, I think I'd most like to see the Harper Hall trilogy adapted. On the other hand, Dragonsdawn and All t

  • by grasshoppa ( 657393 ) <`gro.oc-onpt' `ta' `ydenneks'> on Monday November 06, 2017 @12:07AM (#55496921) Homepage

    There are so many beloved fantasy epics out there, it might be wise to avoid the almost-blasphemy of redoing LoTR.

    Off the top of my head, I'd do Wheel of Time. Lacking that, then I'd buy the rights to the Stormlight Archive.

  • Silmarillion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by way2slo ( 151122 ) on Monday November 06, 2017 @12:22AM (#55496967) Journal

    If you want to make a very good Tolkien based TV series, don't re-hash The Lord of the Rings or even The Hobbit.

    Use the Silmarillion.

    It won't happen as long as Christopher Tolkien is alive, but once the controlling rights to the book are out of his hands it could be done.

    Lots of stories there, The Oath of Feanor, The Fall of Morgoth, Beren and Luthien, & The Rise and Fall of Gondolin to name a few. Lots of brand new characters, except for Galadriel but she does not do much. "Main Characters" die left and right. Still, lots of room to do your own thing. The book spans thousands of years and several Ages, but the series could just focus on the very end of the Age of Bliss to the end of the First Age. Competent writers could get at least 5-7 season out of it with plenty of action. Lots of terrible stuff going on then. 6 Great Battles, plus lots of minor skirmishes. Wurms, Dragons, Balrogs, etc.

    • by jsepeta ( 412566 )

      Hear, hear! let's do something similar but different. And hey Liv Tyler is still looking good.

  • There's another book/universe that hasn't been desecrated in a while.

    Something magical (excuse the pun) happened with GoT - maybe it's because the author a) alive and can offer insights that might not be obvious from reading the books and b) is an experienced TV writer who can help guide the series. Or maybe it was sheer luck.

    There are a lot of great Sci-Fi fantasy out there that deserves to be explored as TV series, how about trying to select one that won't elicit groans from geeks like us.

  • by gijoel ( 628142 ) on Monday November 06, 2017 @03:47AM (#55497433)
    I really enjoy shows about genealogy.
  • Please don't turn this into a perpetual reboot shitfest. The Peter Jackson versions are perfectly fine and will do for the next 100 years, thank you.

  • I think a big part of why GoT is so successful is because it does not follow the classic TV series formula. It's not dumbed down, the characters all have real reasons for their actions (instead of the low hanging cheap stuff usually used to generate instant plot twists). And most importantly every action come with real consequences that are carried trough regardless of how integral the character may be. For this reason I worry about the success of a WoT series, since the story has a much more traditional s
    • It's a lot of fun too because it breaks so many stereotypes... even fat doughy guys and dwarves can be heros!
  • I think a series like this could be good fun. My only objection is paying off the Tolkein trust. The copyrights on LOTR should have expired long ago. No one now alive produced anything - this should all be in the public domain.

    For that reason, i object. Don't feed the copyright trolls.

  • I couldn't image this is far off, but attention spans are 'short' these days for entertainment. I'm not saying there's this epidemic downplay in science-fiction-fantasy literary for entertainment in this world, but if The Hobbit and LOTR don't stay relevent to today's generation and society, who the hell is going to seek it out anymore? And if it is sought out, if it's not even entertaining in the first 5 minutes, we have the ultimate ability to go binge-watch, read, skip or get something else to feed our

  • How about doing the Elric saga [wikipedia.org] instead?
  • Comparing LoTR and GoT is like comparing Pornhub and Wikipedia. Sure, they are both fantasy novels (as WP and PH are both websites), but that is as far as it goes.
  • Despite what the summary says, the rights are owned by Middle-earth Enterprises [wikipedia.org] rather than the Tolkien estate. That is, the rights to adaptations and so forth of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, which are what JRRT sold during his lifetime.
  • Things like this are a symptom of what's wrong with the entertainment industry: no new ideas. There's nothing to be done with a LotR weekly series; it's a complete story already, there's nothing more to be told that makes sense; it's beating a dead horse. /opinion
  • You know what they awoke in the darkness of Khazad-dum...a monster that ate all their money and delivered a flop.
  • "We can hear the pitch now," jokes The Verge. "It's like Game of Thrones, only with a series of books that are actually finished."

    I can't help but think of all the books that have popped up in the Tolkien section after his death. He's been more prolific from the grave than L. Ron Hubbard, what with Christopher Tolkien publishing everything his dad scribbled in a liner.

Felson's Law: To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.

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