Amazon has announced that they’ve acquired the global TV rights to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy and given a series adaptation a multi-season commitment.
“The Lord of the Rings is a cultural phenomenon that has captured the imagination of generations of fans through literature and the big screen,” said Sharon Tal Yguado, Head of Scripted Series, Amazon Studios. “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.”
No further details about the deal are known at this time, but when the project was first taken out into the open market, rumors swirled that the rights themselves were to cost between 200-250 million. With the actual cost of production on something with this type of scale likely to be astronomical, Amazon could be committing as much as half a billion, if not more, before a frame has been shot. Which tells you how desperate the streamer is for a broader skewing hit after a series of underwhelming debuts that forced a recent change in programming.
This isn’t the first time Amazon has plunked down a pretty penny for something. Woody Allen’s Crisis in Six Scenes reportedly cost $80 million for six half-hour episodes, while Matthew Weiner project The Romanoffs was above $70 million and $40 million had been spent on David O. Russell’s project with Julianne Moore and Robert De Niro before any footage had been taken. The latter was eventually shut down.
First published in 1954, The Lord of the Rings was most famously adapted into a film trilogy by Peter Jackson that grossed almost $3 billion and won 475 awards, including 17 Oscars.