It’s official. The last and final season of HBO’s acclaimed series Game of Thrones is set to end in 2019. With such a massive void in television, it’s giving other networks and streaming services the opportunity to throw their hats in the ring for a major fantasy epic series that captures our imaginations. It appears that Amazon is already getting the ball rolling.
In November 2017, Amazon announced that it retained the rights to adapt J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Since we’ve already seen Lord of the Rings on screen in the trilogy directed by Peter Jackson that grossed an astounding $2.9 billion, many folks were shocked that this would be Amazon’s answer to Game of Thrones. But can it work?
We all know the story of Frodo Baggins, the hobbit who inherits the legendary ring and bands together with a team of elves, goblins, hobbits, and the like who go on an epic adventure to destroy the evil ring in the fires of Mount Doom. Amazon’s version of The Lord of the Rings won’t be telling this same story.
Matt Galsor, a representative for the Tolkien Estate and Trust and HarperCollins said in a statement to The New York Times, this new television adaptation will explore “previously unexplored stories based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s original writings.”
An astounding budget
As of right now, there are no writers, producers, or actors attached to the forthcoming Lord of the Rings series, but we’re bound to hear some news soon because the rights alone cost Amazon a whopping $200 million. With such a massive amount of money at stake before development, we’re going to assume that Amazon is going to take its time getting this series to the public.
After all, even Game of Thrones didn’t get it right with the first pilot.
The war of the prequels
From what we understand Amazon’s LOTR series will focus on the events that occurred before Bilbo Baggins left the ring in Frodo’s possession. However, that doesn’t really give us much information to go on. After all, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote about Middle Earth’s history from the very beginning of its creation through thousands of years. The man was dedicated to his craft.
If Amazon is going to focus on a time before The Fellowship of the Ring, it will probably hone in on The Silmarillion, which centers on elves and men. Apparently, there are also orcs, dragons, warwolves, and giant spiders like the ones we will probably see in the final season of GoT.
However, Amazon should consider the fact that HBO is also currently developing several Game of Thrones prequels, which means LOTR has to be mesmerizing to compete.
Though there have been shows with fantasy elements like Starz’s Outlander and Syfy’s The Magicians that have garnered faithful followings, there is just nothing like the global phenomenon Game of Thrones.
Even if some LOTR fans tune in, many are still annoyed by the lack of diversity in the films while more still haven’t gotten over the rockiness of The Hobbit trilogy. It’s also important to note that the material itself isn’t exactly fresh. No matter how good Amazon’s series is, we highly doubt it will ever compete with GoT.
Some serious backlash
Already, there are some who are making their displeasure with the new series known. Many folks think Amazon is just squeezing every dime it can out of Tolkien’s epic work and they are disgusted by it.
Actor John Rhys-Davies who played Gimli in LOTR told Den of Geek, “It’s just a disgrace. I mean, poor Tolkien must be spinning in his grave. It’s not about doing it better; it’s about making more money, that’s all. If they think they can make more money, then they will.”
Despite any apprehension from Tolkien fans, if Amazon wants to begin really competing with major networks like HBO and, more importantly, Netflix, this LOTR series is a great business move.
An unnamed senior TV and film industry executive spoke with The Guardian about the series, saying,
It is impossible to write off Amazon because its business is so multi-faceted. Amazon’s business model is different from other streaming services. The Tolkien deal dwarfs anything in the realms of what Netflix would ever be able to spend on a single franchise. I think Amazon will overtake Netflix on numbers – a creep rather than a revolution – and Disney has the brands and is making moves.
The return of Gandalf
There is one person who is super excited about LOTR heading to Amazon. Sir Ian McKellen, who famously portrayed Gandalf in the film trilogy, recently appeared on The Graham Norton Show. The 78-year-old was asked if he would be replaced by a younger actor for the series.
He retorted, “What do you mean another Gandalf? I haven’t said yes because I haven’t been asked, but are you suggesting someone else is going to play it? Who would be suitable? Gandalf is over 7,000 years old, so I’m not too old.”
It’ll be quite some time before we see what all the fuss is about with Lord of the Rings and Amazon. However, with GoT off the air, we’ll get to see for ourselves if the show has any magic at all.
Follow Aramide on Twitter @midnightrami.
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