Earlier this month it was reported that Amazon Studios was in discussions to produce a TV show based on the fantasy classic The Lord of the Rings. It has now been confirmed that the media giant has closed the deal to acquire to the global TV rights to the property.
According to Deadline, Amazon has signed a multi-season commitment for a Lord of the Rings show. The show will be produced in cooperation with estate of writer J.R.R. Tolkien, publisher HarperCollins, and New Line Cinema, which is a division of Warner Bros and produced Peter Jackson’s blockbuster movie adaptations.
The show will be set before the events of The Fellowship of the Ring, the first book in Tolkien’s trilogy. It is unknown at this stage if it will also take place before Tolkien’s novel The Hobbit, the evnts of which also occur earlier than The Lord of the Rings.
The deal, which also includes a potential additional spin-off series, comes with a hefty pice tag. Deadline reports that it cost Amazon an upfront fee of between $200–$250 million purely to secure the rights. This is outside the costs for the development, talent, and production of the series.
In a statement, Sharon Tal Yguado, Head of Scripted Series at Amazon Studios, said, “The Lord of the Rings is a cultural phenomenon that has captured the imagination of generations of fans through literature and the big screen. We are honored to be working with the Tolkien Estate and Trust, HarperCollins, and New Line on this exciting collaboration for television and are thrilled to be taking The Lord of the Rings fans on a new epic journey in Middle Earth.”
In an unusual move, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was reportedly personally involved with the negotiations to secure the rights to the property. Amazon was one of three studios that the Tolkien estate initially approached to produce the show, the others being Warner and HBO.
Jackson’s three Lord of the Rings movies were released between 2001 and 2003. Together they made more than $2.9 billion at the worldwide box office, with The Return of the Ring also winning 11 Oscars. They were followed by the three Hobbit movies, also directed by Jackson.