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Amazon, Warner Bros. in Talks for 'Lord of the Rings' Series Adaptation


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Via Variety 

 

 

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Warner Bros. Television and the estate of J.R.R. Tolkein are in talks with Amazon Studios to develop a series based on the late author’s “The Lord of the Rings” novels. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is said by sources with knowledge of the situation to be personally involved in the negotiations, which are still in very early stages. No deal has been set.

The studio and the Tolkein estate have been shopping a series based on the classic fantasy novels and their assortment of hobbits, wizards, and warriors, sparking a competitive situation from which Amazon has emerged as the frontrunner. Representatives for Amazon and Warner Bros. declined to comment.

It is uncommon for Bezos — known to be a fan of high fantasy and science fiction — to involve himself personally in dealmaking for Amazon Studios. But talks for “The Lord of the Rings” come at an uncommon moment for the e-commerce giant’s video-entertainment division. Last month Amazon Studios flushed its executive ranks, with president Roy Price, head of scripted Joe Lewis, and head of unscripted Conrad Riggs all departing. Price’s departure came just days after he was suspended on the heels of a sexual harassment allegation made against him by a producer on the company’s original series “The Man in the High Castle.” Lewis and Riggs’ departures followed a week later.


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But the pursuit of “The Lord of the Rings” is in line with a new programming mandate dictated this year by Bezos, who, months before Price departed, ordered him to shift Amazon Studios away from niche, naturalistic series such as “Transparent” and “Mozart in the Jungle” and toward large-scale genre programming with potential for broad international appeal. As part of that shift, Amazon canceled two series, “Z: The Beginning of Everything” and “The Last Tycoon,” and began shifting resources away from Lewis’ development team and to a unit led by event-series exec Sharon Tal Yguado. With Lewis’ departure, Tal Yguado was named head of scripted series, reporting to Price’s interim replacement, Amazon Studios COO Albert Cheng.

The fact that a “Lord of the Rings” series is being shopped by Warner Bros. marks a thaw in the relationship between the studio and the Tolkein estate, which in July settled a massive lawsuit that had dragged on since 2012. The dispute, with Tolkein’s heirs and publisher HarperCollins on one side and Warner Bros. — which produced director Peter Jackon’s live-action feature film adaptations of “The Lord of the Rings” and its prequel, “The Hobbit” — on the other, stemmed from the use characters from the movies in online slot machines and other games.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but a legal filing stated that no fees or costs were to be awarded by the court and that no party was entitled to recover fees or costs.

 

                                                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                                              
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I'm totally down.

 

They could totally stretch those books (LOTR) out over seasons.

 

I'm sure they'll be an effort to differentiate themselves from PJ's films / adaption - so it'll be a version we've never seen before...prolly definitive.

 

(shrugs)  I'm in.  I'd like to see what a 'rebooted' 2018 Gollum design would be...

gollum2.jpg

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LOL - I'm sure that was the entire basis for WBs defense in court against the Tolkein estate:

 

ayyy.jpg

 

Man - PJs Hobbit Trilogy was...disappointing on sooo many levels.

 

I think LOTR as a serial could work.  They've been trying to get those books properly on screen for ages now.  I think the medium / venue is here...and what most of the masses are familiar w/ is PJs adaption.

 

It could be kew.  If they could get those hardcore Tolkein fans onboard w/ this version - they're golden.  No one hates those PJ movies more than those dudes who study...freakin'...'elvish' as a major.  Go book-accurate.

 

a2df5055c5a043ae9d1a0914f8477892_ddf66f7

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  • 4 months later...

Amazon's LOTR TV series to cost over $1 billion

 

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In Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. With the clock ticking, Amazon must be in production within two years, according to the terms of the pact. When production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff.

"This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001. Those films have earned $5.85 billion worldwide at the box office, underscoring the property's enduring popularity.

As for whether Jackson is involved in the TV series as an executive producer remains to be seen and would be up to him. His attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the Amazon deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

 

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