Our Initial Reactions to Amazon’s Bringing Middle Earth to TV

Earlier this week, Amazon announced that it purchased the rights to all of J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy novels and plan to produce a television series set in the fantasy world of the acclaimed author. It was a big announcement, for one because the price of the purchase was incredible (reportedly around $200 million just for the rights), and second because it would be the first television series based on Tolkien’s work.

Reports are that the television series will be a prequel to “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” book series. Recently, we here at NoCoastBias.com did our own Tolkien characters fantasy draft (which you should definitely read right now) which was a lot of fun. So, with this big news in the Tolkien world coming out, we decided to gauge what the Tolkien fans think about this announcement. Here are our initial reactions.

Robby Cowles

We just finished The Hobbit film trilogy like, two years ago. Do we already need another Tolkien installment? Lord of the Rings is not Star Wars; it doesn’t lend itself to being rebooted endlessly every couple years. The casual TV and movie watcher will probably check out a Star Wars series or movie because it’s got a simple enough story and pretty lightsabers. Is the casual TV fan going to want to get entrenched in the lore and history of the Tolkien universe (which is SUPER dense)? I doubt it. Game of Thrones tricked fans into doing this by also having a ton of sex and violence, which is absent in the Tolkien writings.

Making it a prequel looks like a huge misstep on Amazon’s part. There’s going to be a ton of fans tuning into the first episode going, “wait, where’s Frodo and that elf guy?” They probably would be better off just rebooting the Lord of the Rings series. I know, I just said it doesn’t lend itself to reboot, but at least you would have a story that is actually familiar to a mass audience.

Plus, $200 million just for the rights?! Before you go into producing what is probably going to be an insanely expensive TV show, you’ve already shelled out $200 million? Oh boy. In order for this project to break even it would probably have to be just as, if not more popular, than Game of Thrones. You know, arguably the most popular show in television history.

Good luck with that, Amazon.

Isaac Vineburg

The deal for an LOTR television series is very surprising for many reasons. First, the Tolkien Estate has historically had an extremely protective hold on its content. You could sum up their usual attitude by saying “Not lightly do the leaves of Lorien fall,” or in other words, “buzz off, you can’t have the rights.” Second, Amazon is a surprising choice to make the series, as they are fairly new as a television studio. However, with Amazon’s Originals gaining notoriety, it seems a jaunt through Middle Earth could be what sends the studio to the next level.

That potential comes with high risk, as the price tag to secure the rights to Tolkien’s world is astronomical. Match that with what will undoubtedly be the high price of production, somewhere in the ballpark of $100-150 million per season, and costs can get out of hand quickly. With restrictions on what Amazon can produce (they cannot remake anything Peter Jackson has touched on previously in his six movies), this leaves lesser known stories and characters with which Amazon will seek a return on their investment. I am extremely excited to see what Amazon does with it, I love that Middle Earth will soon return to the big (computer) screen!

Daniel Soden

Wow! $250 million dollars can buy you just about all the hoodies in the world and still have enough left over for a serious Taco Bell run. It can also land you the Lord of the Ring television rights and make you a serious contender in the streaming world.

Not like Amazon needed to worry about their spot in the streaming world, but honestly they never had that big splash like Netflix or even HBO streaming had till now. I’m not even the biggest Lord of the Rings fan, but I’m ready for them to slide right into Game of Thrones spot, at least this show will have a cast of characters I can follow.

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