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PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 5:41 am 
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Today, from Variety (link):
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‘Lord of the Rings’: Amazon, Warner Bros. in Talks for Series Adaptation (EXCLUSIVE)

Warner Bros. Television and the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien are in talks with Amazon Studios to develop a series based on the late author’s “The Lord of the Rings” novels. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is said by sources with knowledge of the situation to be personally involved in the negotiations, which are still in very early stages. No deal has been set.

The studio and the Tolkien estate have been shopping a series based on the classic fantasy novels and their assortment of hobbits, wizards, and warriors, sparking a competitive situation from which Amazon has emerged as the frontrunner. Representatives for Amazon and Warner Bros. declined to comment.

I've just seen this, but I assume others here have already heard about it and know more. What is up? What is this? A remake of LotR the story? Or a derivative "set in the world of" series?

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 10:09 am 
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No idea! First I've heard of it.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 11:45 am 
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Just checked TheOneRing.net and a similar German website, and it is news to them too. Variety lists the article as an exclusive, so it seems that they broke the story.

After the last Hobbit film was released, there existed, in my opinion, basically three somewhat viable options for future Tolkien adaptations in the foreseeable future (25 years).

1.) Silmarillion related stories: currently extremely unlikely but artistically the most fruitful endeavor and given Christopher's advanced age, not impossible (but again, even then, very low chances)
2.) Basically inventing stories around or shortly before the LOTR time period to create stand-alone movies: This could have a semblance of authenticity (let's say Thorongil in Umbar) or throw everything out off the window (let's say a film adaptation of the video game series Shadow of Mordor/War in which, as Alatar mentioned in a different thread, Shelob is a scantily-clad woman).
3.) Re-adapting the "Lord of the Rings" in a slightly different medium, TV that is. Given the success of "Game of Thrones", I always assumed this was an option. A TV adaption could also be used as a (flimsy) justification for remaking the story so soon.

I guess it is possible that the Amazon series could actually fall somewhere between options 2 and 3. "Lord of the Rings" is also a catch-all term for anything Middle-earth related, so I would not rule out a series about Thorongil or something similar. I am picturing a bunch of Studio bosses sitting in a room and dreaming of a "Third Age franchise": one series about Balin in Moria, one about Aragorn's teenage years, etc.

Personally, I think it is too soon for a new adaptation of the "Lord of the Rings" proper. Yes, TV, allows for a more detailed adaptation and this would arguably be the main selling point for such a series. But Jackson's films are not known for their short length either and I am not sure how you could sell a LOTR series that way.

My main concern is that the creators of the series would seek to create an adaptation which frantically tries to differentiate itself from Jackson's work. And by that I do not mean that they read Tolkien's book and reached different conclusion but that they just want to change key elements to weaken the coming accusations that this is just a rehash. So instead of a more authentic TV adaption we could very well receive an extremely loose adaptation (for example, two members of the Fellowship erased, major characters die, you name it).

Who knows, maybe Amazon will be able to create an extremely thoughtful and nuanced adaption of the "Lord of the Rings" that highlights the calmer aspects of Tolkien's magnum opus. But I will say the chances for that are slim indeed and I am already picturing the yearly Middle-earth related quasi-superhero anthology series.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 11:53 am 
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Wow, this is completely news to me.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 12:06 pm 
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Second article with more details, from Deadline. http://deadline.com/2017/11/lord-of-the ... 202201636/

According to the linked article, the Tolkien Estate approached HBO, Amazon, and Netflix for a LOTR series, asking for $200 – $250 million. HBO already dropped out and now it is between Amazon and Netflix.

V, you might know more about this, but is the Tolkien Estate even authorized to sell the TV rights for LOTR?

Eldorion posted this on TORN:

"The Estate does not have the legal right to "shop around" a LOTR screen adaptation even if they were inclined to do so (and there's no reason to think their opinions about those have suddenly changed). The most likely scenario is that either Variety or their source confused the Estate and Middle-earth Enterprises, which owns the adaptation rights to TH and LOTR."


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 12:15 pm 
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As some have commented elsewhere, I am suspicious of the veracity of the aspect of this story in which the author claims that Warner Brothers and the Tolkien Estate are in talks with Amazon. It seems likely that the author is confusing the Tolkien Estate with Middle-earth Enterprises (formerly Tolkien Enterprises), the organization of the late Saul Zantz that still owns the film rights to LOTR and The Hobbit. On the other hand, WB and Middle-earth Enterprises did recently settle that lawsuit with the Estate so maybe they are trying to work with them up front. I doubt it though, unless Christopher is starting to take more of a back seat in the operations. I am doubtful that he would be cooperative in any kind of adaptation.

x-posted with Beutlin. My assumption is that Eldorian is correct and that the TV rights are covered by the film rights that were sold long ago. But I can say that I am sure.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 12:26 pm 
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My secret hope is that it is really The Silmarillion that is being "shopped" by the Estate. But that is not very likely.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 12:48 pm 
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Voronwë the Faithful wrote:
My secret hope is that it is really The Silmarillion that is being "shopped" by the Estate. But that is not very likely.


One can only hope. Even leaving artistic considerations aside, this would definitely be the most marketable Middle-earth adaptation. Internet comments cannot be equated with general sentiments of course but judging from the comments underneath the majority of the currently released articles, people are not meeting the news of a new LOTR adapation with glee.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 12:56 pm 
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not something I would recommend
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Very much do not like the idea of a LOTR adaption. :nono:

If, however, the thought is to do a loose, GOT-style adaptation of The Sil.......maybe I could get behind that?

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 12:59 pm 
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I already picture Grima owning a whorehouse in Edoras.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 1:26 pm 
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not something I would recommend
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Don't say such things! :salmon: :salmon:

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 3:44 pm 
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yovargas wrote:
Very much do not like the idea of a LOTR adaption. :nono:


If they used Tosh's script, or something like it, it could be fantastic.



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PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 3:55 pm 
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Ideally I'd love to see The Silmarillion, but realistically that's not going to happen unless the Appendices are considered "fair game" as part of the LotR License. If so, there's always the possibility that Christopher would prefer they use the published Sil texts rather than invent them wholesale from the limited plot moments in the Appendices.

Failing that, I'd love them to start with a small scale, "faithful" adaptation of "The Hobbit" over one season maybe, leading into some Young Aragorn fanfic for a season or so, then culminating in a season each for Fellowship, Two Towers and Return. That would give a 5 season arc, and have the advantage of building to a climax from smaller beginnings rather than trying to top LotR with The Hobbit as happened in the movies. Also, since The Hobbit was less critically acclaimed that would be a good place to start, rather than trying to compete with one of the most successful Film adaptations of all time.

Incidentally, the most succesful TV reboot of an Iconic movie I can think of was Dune. The movie was 1984 and the TV Series was 2000. Fellowship was 2001, and here we are 16 years later looking at a reboot.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 4:51 pm 
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Maybe. If there is any truth to this at all. Of which I am highly skeptical.

And while there are certainly some parallels with Dune (it probably is the closest Sci Fi equivalent to LOTR), the big difference is that the Dune film was a commercial and critical flop (in my opinion Lynch, though a talented director, was an awful fit for Dune), while LOTR was arguably the most successful adaptation of all time, when commercial and critical success are both considered.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 5:44 pm 
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Also....Dune had TV adaptation?
(I legit didn't know that which seems like some indication of its success.)

I personally wouldn't want any Hobbit stuff. The tone of that story is just too childish (I don't mean that in a bad way) to comfortably tie with the other stories.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 6:40 pm 
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A talented director could make the Hobbit charming while making it clear to the audience that they are seeing a larger, grimmer world through the eyes of a naive character. Martin Freeman was excellent in capturing the provincial to heroic journey, but it got lost in PJ's battles.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 05, 2017 9:47 pm 
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I'm a lurker here 99% of the time but I saw my name mentioned so I couldn't resist popping in. :D

Having discussed this news on a couple different forums and hearing a variety of perspectives, I still think that the most likely scenario is that Variety and Deadline are confusing the Estate and Middle-earth Enterprises. It's a pretty common mistake even for people who should know better, though it was even worse back when M-e E was called Tolkien Enterprises. The fact that two reputable trade publications (well, mostly reputable in Deadline's case) made the same mistake did give me pause, but it's possible that they got the same mistaken information from the same source, or that both of them had mistaken sources, or that Deadline had incomplete information and just followed Variety's lead since that was the story already being reposted throughout the entertainment press.

Of course, I'm not an insider and it is possible that the Estate is involved and I'll look like a jackass for mouthing off about this on multiple sites. But I am inclined to think that there is an error being made here somewhere, and that if the Estate is involved, it's not in the way that's been reported so far. I have no idea as to the exact wording of the contract in which Tolkien sold the adaptation rights to TH and LOTR, but the two Rankin/Bass movies were both originally TV movies, so I think there's a decent chance TV was covered in it. And even if TV wasn't explicitly listed, video games were certainly not (the sale took place in 1969), but Middle-earth Enterprises is the organization that licenses out the rights to make video games based on the books. (The rights to make games using intellectual property from the films are a separate matter but both have been held by Warner Bros. Interactive since ~2010.) So I suspect that the contract speaks of adaptation rights in more general terms, or at least that's the interpretation that Saul Zaentz took (and the only thing the Estate seemed to dispute was slot machines, not games in general).


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 05, 2017 10:51 pm 
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Hi Eldorian, nice to see you here! I used to have a copy of the contract, but unless it is on my work computer I don't have it any more. I'll check when I go in to the office tomorrow. But I'm almost sure you are right and the rights that were sold do cover TV adaptations. As for the recently resolved lawsuit, the Estate did actually challenge more than just slot machines. They also challenged online games.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 06, 2017 1:01 am 
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Ah, thanks for the reminder, Voronwë. I don't know if you're legally allowed to share quotes from the contract but I'd love to hear whatever it is you can confirm from it!


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 06, 2017 7:19 pm 
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Unfortunately, I only had the 1969 agreements as well as the subsequent various agreement that led to New Line and WB obtaining a license to make films based on LOTR and TH saved on my old laptop which sadly got wiped a couple of years ago. I was hoping that I had backed up copies on my work computer, but no dice. So I can't quote the original language. I searched around here and at TORN to see if I had quoted in some place, but I haven't found anything. However, I did find a post over at TORN in which I quote language from the licensing agreement that Zaentz entered into with Miramax (which was subsequently transferred to New Line, and then to WB when they purchased New Line). The license agreement states "MFC shall have a succession of options and licenses which it may continue to purchase and exercise without limit so long as it continues to produce and release motion pictures in accordance herewith on the basis of one or both licensed Tolkien works." The agreement further provides that these subsequent motion pictures "may be a sequel, a prequel or a remake, so long as it is a feature motion picture made for initial theatrical release."

Thus, the agreement with Miramax granted them time-limited options to make any films based on Tolkien's works allowable by the 1969 agreements, so long as they were feature films made for initial theatrical release. As such, the license agreement would not include TV series. Moreover, I wrote in that same post (back when I still had all the agreements) "Zaentz retained the rights to make stage productions, direct to video or television productions, and most merchandising rights including theme parks."

So my understanding at the time was that Tolkien Enterprises (now Middle-earth Enterprises) did have the rights make television productions, and that they did not license that right to Miramax. All of this is to say, Eldorion, that I think you are correct that the reporting in the media is mistaking the Tolkien Estate for Middle-earth Enterprises, formerly Tolkien Enterprises.

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