It’s official, folks: Amazon is returning to Middle Earth with a Lord of the Rings television adaptation.
Amazon announced today that it has acquired global TV rights to J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved fantasy novels, making a multi-season commitment to their new series. The adaptation “will explore new storylines preceding J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring,” per a press release, and the deal also includes a potential additional spin-off series, because of course it does. Deadline reports that the acquisition cost Amazon a cool $250 million.
“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, in a statement. “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.”
“We are delighted that Amazon, with its longstanding commitment to literature, is the home of the first-ever multi-season television series for The Lord of the Rings,” added Matt Galsor, a representative for the Tolkien Estate and Trust and HarperCollins. “Sharon and the team at Amazon Studios have exceptional ideas to bring to the screen previously unexplored stories based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s original writings.”
Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings film trilogy earned nearly $6 billion worldwide, garnering a combined 17 (!) Oscars, including a Best Picture win for 2003’s The Return of the King. Safe to say the films are an impossible act for Amazon to follow—wise of them to opt instead for entirely new storylines, rather than attempting to retrace Jackson’s steps.
After initial reports revealed that Amazon was in talks to adapt Lord of the Rings, Sean Astin, who starred as Samwise Gamgee in Jackson’s films, offered his thoughts on the project, saying, “I think it’s an intriguing idea [but] the devil’s in the details. How would they do it? How? Who?” Hopefully, we’ll find out the answers to those questions and more soon.