According to Deadline, Amazon recently inked a nearly $250 million deal to secure the global television rights to the J.R.R. Tokien novel series. The multi-season adaptation will explore new storylines set in Middle Earth in the period preceding The Fellowship of the Ring. Amazon Studios will produce the project in cooperation with the Tolkien Estate and Trust, HarperCollins, and Warner Bros. Entertainment’s New Line Cinema.
"The Lord of the Rings is a cultural phenomenon that has captured the imagination of generations of fans through literature and the big screen," Sharon Tal Yguado, Head of Scripted Series at Amazon Studios, said. "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."
The deal, which also includes a potential spinoffs, marks a shift in Amazon’s original programming. The company’s founder Jeff Bezos reportedly requested for the studio to put more focus on "high-end drama series with global appeal"—something similar to Game of Thrones, Variety reported.
According to Deadline, the Tolkien Estate had approached Amazon, Netflix, and HBO while shopping the series. The estate reportedly sought $200 million-$250 million upfront for television rights. That’s a pretty large sum considering it doesn’t include production, talent, and development costs. Deadline reports the series budget is likely to be between $100 million and $150 million a season.
The news came shortly after Disney announced its plans to develop a Star Wars TV series led by The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson. The show, which will also explore new stories, will make its way to Disney’s streaming service by the end of 2019.