Middle Earth is coming to TV.
Amazon announced Monday that it has retained the rights to adapt J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” for television for its Prime streaming service. The multiseason adaptation will feature “new story lines preceding J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘The Fellowship of the Ring,'” which is the first “Rings” book, Amazon said in a statement. The deal also includes the opportunity to pursue spinoff series.
But it will cost Amazon dearly: Deadline reported that just the rights to the globally popular franchise cost $200 million. Further details — such as what writers, producers or actors would be involved, or when the show might debut — have not been announced.
With its fantastical setting and characters, “The Lord of the Rings” bears a superficial resemblance to HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” currently one of the biggest shows in the world. (George R.R. Martin, who wrote the books that series was based on, has said Tolkien’s series was an inspiration.)
It is also a proven pop culture commodity. Collectively the three “Lord of the Rings” films directed by Peter Jackson grossed more than $2.9 billion internationally.
The TV adaptation will cover different ground, focusing on “previously unexplored stories based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s original writings,” Matt Galsor, a representative for the Tolkien Estate and Trust and HarperCollins, said in a statement.
The move amounts to a much-needed shot in the arm for Amazon, which has lost several top leaders in the wake of a sexual harassment allegation.
Last month, Roy Price, the head of Amazon’s entertainment streaming efforts, was forced to resign after a producer said he made an unwanted advance. Price’s top lieutenant, Joe Lewis, left Amazon shortly thereafter.
Amazon said it will produce the series along with Tolkien Estate and Trust, the book publisher HarperCollins and the film studio New Line Cinema.
The move also comes just four months after the Tolkien estate and Warner Bros. — the parent company of New Line Cinema — settled an $80 million lawsuit.