Earlier this month, there was a bidding war between several media giants for the film rights to a new adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” series.
Amazon, Netflix, and HBO were approached by the Tolkien estate for the chance to acquire the rights, which were said to have sold for $250 million – and that’s just for the rights to produce the series. That number doesn’t include any cost associated with production or casting.
According to Forbes, that figure is 1000 times as much money as Tolkien initially received when he sold the film rights for his books in 1969 and is roughly equal to the aggregate prices of the 200 (yes, you read that right, 200) most expensive movie screenplays ever sold.
Whether the series will be good or not is still up for debate, considering the critical response to the recent “Hobbit” movies, but the price tag alone is bound to go down in history.
As offers became more outrageous as negotiations continued through last week, it was even rumored that Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, was personally involved in the deal making on behalf of Amazon Studios.
On Monday, Amazon announced in a press release that they had acquired the rights to “Lord of the Rings.” While the Amazon deal does not include rights to The Silmarillion, a collection of mythopoeic works written by Tolkien and set in Middle Earth, the new series will explore storylines prior to the events of The Fellowship of the Ring and offer the possibility for future spin-offs.
It’s definitely unusual to see Bezos involved in any dealmaking for his company, but the acquisition comes at a pivotal time; Amazon recently lost three high-level executives, Roy Price, Joe Lewis, and Conrad Riggs, and announced a new programming mandate.
Reports surfaced of an alleged sexual harassment incident involving Roy Price and Isa Hackett, an executive producer on the Amazon series “The Man in the High Castle.” Amazon initially suspended Price as a result of the allegations, but he left the company a few days later. Lewis and Riggs were dismissed from their respective positions only a few days after that.
And just a few months prior to the departure of three of Amazon’s top executives, Bezos tasked Price with creating more large-scale programming for Amazon Studios with the potential for greater international appeal. Basically, Bezos wants the next Game of Thrones.
Despite leading the largest online retailer in the world, Amazon has yet to produce a global film phenomenon in the same vein as Game of Thrones or Stranger Things. And it’s obvious from the purchase of “Lord of the Rings,” that’s what Bezos has in mind.
There is no release date set for the series yet, and no announcements have been made as to who might be starring in the new show either. What we do know is that the series will be an Amazon Original, only available to paid Prime members, and by the end of this all is going to cost a LOT.
About The Contributor
Brie Barbee is a freelance writer and editor from Portland, OR. She specializes in pop culture criticism and copy-editing. When she isn’t writing, Brie enjoys reading, crocheting, playing video games, and snuggling with her two cats, Luna and Tally.