Amazon wants to turn Lord of the Rings into the next Game of Thrones

Photo: Warner Bros.

Amazon Studios has been looking for a way to duplicate HBO’s success with Game of Thrones, and the company may have found a solution: adapting J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings into a TV series. Variety reports that the company is currently in talks with Warner Bros. Television and the late author’s estate, and while discussions are said to be in “very early stages,” it is clearly a high priority, with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos himself involved in the negotiations.

Amazon isn’t the only looking into the rights, according to Deadline, which reports that the Tolkien Estate is looking to sell the television rights to the iconic fantasy series to the tune of $200-250 million, and has approached Netflix and HBO as well. There appears to be some strings attached: the rights might not encompass all of the characters in the story. HBO has reportedly passed on the project.

Amazon Studios has unexpectedly found itself in the midst of a transition. Earlier this year, Bezos reportedly got involved with the creative direction of the studio, tasking the group with finding high-profile dramas like the hit HBO series that could have a broad, global appeal. Then last month, Amazon Studios executive Roy Price resigned in the wake of sexual harassment allegations, a move that led to additional resignations and a reshuffling of the studio’s executive ranks.

If finding the next Game of Thrones is the goal, it’s hard to imagine a property more suited to the task then Tolkien’s series. The Lord of the Rings tells the story of Frodo Baggins, a young Hobbit who is tasked with destroying an artifact called the One Ring in the hopes of saving the world of Middle-earth. The books have been adapted multiple times over the years, with the most commercially — and critically — successful adaptation coming in the form of Peter Jackson’s film trilogy. (Jackson’s films adapting The Hobbit were markedly less successful.)

While the adaptation is far from certain — the deal hasn’t even been closed yet — this is the kind of project that could bring Amazon Studios a significant amount of attention, and draw in viewers across the world. While Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu have all made huge strides as original content creators, Amazon has yet to score with a far-reaching, cultural conversation piece the way that Netflix has with something like Stranger Things.

While The Lord of the Rings would certainly check all the Game of Thrones boxes when it comes to fantasy and adventure, it is also worth noting that the books aren’t really known for being filled with the kind of sex-and-violence antics that HBO’s show has become synonymous with. On the other hand, Rings has one huge advantage: the books are actually finished.

Updated November 4, 2017, 9:00 AM: Updated to include additional details from Deadline.


The crucial thing about this is that it is a pitch by the Tolkien estate rather than to them. Christopher Tolkien hated the Peter Jackson movies (I don’t understand why) so it’s interesting that he’s on board with this.

Maybe too much action and not enough world-building? Christopher Tolkien has spent pretty much all his life editing and completing his father’s supplementary works, which are mostly about exploring the origins of the world and adding to its colossal amount of lore. The movies were fun, but maybe he wants something more… pensive.

I want The Simarillion. Hard book to read, but literally "biblical" in world building. The LotR movies were too good to "replace". The Hobbit was too recent. It couls be based on the rise and fall of Numemor. Also the downfall of both Elves and Darwes. This sets up well to clarify confusion about lore in the LotR.

there is a level of torture and violence in Silmarillion that makes GoT seem like a children’s book. We are talking battles that cover spaces bigger than the entire of Westeros and incredible cruelty.

There is even the odd nice sex scene and one can only imagine at some of the awful rape content that is inferred throughout, let alone the forced torture sex that the elves were put through to create the orcs.

Silmarillion is not a child friendly story

Children have no money so who cares

is laughing

I’d love an anthology style Simarillion. Each season could focus on one or two stories with a mostly new cast and a couple returning characters that appear across multiple stories (or could for dramatic television purposes without screwing up the lore).

Why does it NEED to be a movie or tv show? You clearly love the books, why ain’t that enough?

Adaptations are additive. More content is at worse nothing, it doesn’t affect the books, but it’s just as likely to add enjoyment for more people.

I was against this potential show and retreading until you mentioned the simarillion. Filling that out and telling that back story would be amazing and much higher fantasy than the Lord of the rings or game of thrones.

Silmarillion is the #1 thing I’ve wanted to see get a high budget HBO-style show. It would be difficult – you’d need good writers to create content to fill the gaps and maybe inject some new main characters into the story. I’m thinking like the Titus Pullo and Lucius Vorenus roles they created for Rome. The cool thing is they could create characters like this that could span eons since Elves can live forever. Or instead of creating new characters I guess they could just inject some of the known elves much more into the stories than they are mentioned in the book. Ie, Galadriel who is only mentioned briefly in the Silmarillion but it’d be really cool to see some of the events from her perspective.

It’d be difficult, but if it was good it could stretch on a long time. So much epic content in there bigger in scope than LoTR.

I consider LotR just as recent as The Hobbit if you know what I mean.

i love lord of the rings but yes there wasnt enough world building. I wanted to know more about the the different peoples in the world. Yes i admit it would have made the movies long and some what boring but hopefully a TV series would allow for this, to flesh things out over a longer bite sized time frame.

I really should read the books, my first introduction to Lord of the rings was the movies.

Everyone hated the Peter Jackson Hobbit movies.

Christopher Tolkien hated the Lord of the Rings movies though, which were generally incredibly well received.

I didn’t. They weren’t nearly as good as the LOTR trilogy, but I thought they were pretty innocent and fun. They, however, should’ve only made one or two.

They, however, should’ve only made one or two.

The real problem.

The real problem was the studio. When they fired Guillermo (what did they think he was going to do?) and strong-armed Jackson in, they wouldn’t let him adjust the schedule at all, so the whole production was fucked.

I didn’t hate the Hobbit at all, and I am a huge fan of Tolkien’s.
But I also don’t love it nearly as much as LoTR.

The Hobbit could have been so much better had it been only a two movies, as originally planned.

The movies are one of the best trilogies of all time.

I know Nintendo is stingy with their IP, and they are still shell shocked from the Mario Bros. Movie, but Zelda would be an amazing series. You have recognizable IP and a series of games that each stand on their own. You wouldn’t have to adapt Ocarana or BotW, but could write a whole new story for the Zelda world.

How dare you.

Absolutely no need for this. Please don’t. There are many, many other fantasy series that could be adapted. Or sci-if. Please don’t.

Agreed. Stop reboots and just find a gem some aspiring, struggling writer has come up with. They are certainly out there.

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