Movie trade magazine Deadline reports that…
“the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien is currently shopping around rights to a TV series based on The Lord of the Rings with a hefty sticker price. The Tolkien estate has put a price tag of $200-250 million dollars on the rights and is currently taking meetings with Netflix and Amazon”
Ugh. I do hope it’s not going to be “Games of Thrones-ified” and “global-reach”-ified once they get the rights. But it probably is. Because a $200-250m price, plus the $750m making-of costs, will demand as wide an audience as possible, with only a few scraps thrown to the fan-base for Tolkien’s writing. Jeff Bezos just sold $1.1 billion in Amazon stock, so they have that sort of cash. They’ll have to get that back.
There are more back-stories to be told in The Lord of the Rings, it’s true.
For instance, one could have an alternately charming / creepy Shire Stories series of self-contained episodes: Bilbo’s visit to the Michel Delving mathomhouse; Ted’s “cousin Hal” encounters the “walking trees” “beyond the North Moors” (last of the Ent-wives?); Gandalf’s arrangements with the dwarves for the making and delivery of the Party toys, his design and making of the Party fireworks; the building of The Hedge, the attack of the trees of the Old Forest, the burning of the bonfire glade; and Farmer Maggot’s encounters with Tom Bombadil. Etc. There are also plenty of pre-Bilbo places for more epic back-stories, such as the life-story of Aragorn.
But as Phil Dragash has so ably shown, full-cast / full-symphonic audio-only seems the best way forward. Which, interestingly, puts such back-story ventures well within the reach of fan-work makers, and for a lot less cost than $1bn. All you have to do is find someone who can write like Tolkien, and with the same pre-modern concerns. Which may, admittedly, be rather tricksy.
Update. Amazon got the TV rights to The Lord of the Rings…
“Set in Middle-Earth, the television adaptation [“a multi-season commitment”] will explore new storylines preceding J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring. The deal includes a potential additional spin-off series.” Telling… “previously unexplored stories based on J. R. R. Tolkien’s original writings”.
Interesting, so it’s a Second Age prequel series. New Line Cinema are lined up. I’ll bet Apple won’t be able to resist making it politically-correct, despite the risk that entails to getting back their $1.2 billion.