When Amazon confirmed early last week that a multi-season, Lord of the Rings TV remake is on the way, Ringers and non-Ringers alike had things to say. Some could already imagine binge-watching the series comfortably from their couch with some popcorn in hand. The others, however, were not so pleased, citing potential damage to something “so sacred.”
Much like the mixed reactions, however, the television adaptation of the world-renowned Lord of the Rings by author J.R.R. Tolkien can only go either two ways, really: absolutely impressive, horrifyingly terrible, or, worse, boring. Let’s take a look at how making a Lord of the Rings reboot could be advantageous or disadvantageous.
Amazon and Netflix reportedly battled fiercely to land the rights to produce the show and with good reason: a cult-like following is already present. The Lord of the Rings has been deeply-loved by Ringers for many years. The awe and admiration for the fantasy novels also escalated on a global scale thanks to director Peter Jackson’s commercially and critically successful film trilogy. For any TV show, performance ratings can be everything, especially if a whopping $250 million were spent for intellectual property alone, which is why having a readily available audience makes the reboot a practically safe bet and could well increase its chances of success.
Apart from hyping chances of massive viewership, the streaming service could also rake in billions of dollars in profit. The show Amazon is looking to rival, HBO’s Game of Thrones (GOT), is reportedly behind its network’s $1.6 billion in revenue and $583 million in operating income during the first quarter of 2017, the Forbes estimated in a report.
The adaptation should naturally do well in numbers, though, because it will explore new storylines in the period preceding The Fellowship Ring rather than re-tell the stories already depicted on the big screen. A potential additional spin-off series is also in the works. This is a new offering that could reveal more of what has previously been known about Middle Earth. The Tolkien Estate and Trust, which manages the copyright of most of the English writer’s works, is also part of the production. This means that show writers could have plenty of access to the late author’s original writings, way more than Jackson did.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos looks willing to go all out for the series, too, as estimated costs could be the highest ever for a television show, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Apart from the quarter billion dollars Amazon flushed to make show production possible in the first place, another $750 million will be spent “once production budgets, casting, writers, producers and visual effects are factored in”. That’s $1 billion for a TV show, folks.
Variety has reported that GOT’s final episodes for season 8 will cost $15 million apiece — or more — which is almost double compared to its 2015 budget. In recent years, the standard for expensive TV has been around $10 million per episode, the amount of Netflix’s enormously successful The Crown and far less successful The Get Down.
However, the possibility of damaging something so legendary is what’s keeping the Ringers from fully welcoming the reboot. The Lord of the Rings movies earned $6 billion globally and went on to win 17 out of 30 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. Beyond the figures, however, the fantasy series has become a cultural phenomenon and a standard for novel adaptations in Hollywood. Jackson spearheaded a 438-day shoot in New Zealand to film all the movies in the trilogy. It was also the “kick” needed to usher the geek film renaissance that started in the early 2000s, making way for films such as The Chronicles of Narnia (2005) and The Golden Compass (2007).
Many also cited similar feelings when a potential recreation of American television sitcom Friends came up. It eventually did not push through because even its leads Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry thought the show “ended on such a high” that a reboot can’t possibly beat the original.
Actor John Rhys-Davies, who played Gimli in the film, had harsher words for the upcoming TV series. “It’s just a disgrace. I mean, poor Tolkien must be spinning in his grave,” he told Den of Geek.
Whether or not Amazon’s expensive and ambitious reboot will serve justice, however, remains to be seen. Until then, the honorable, wise, and stalwart warrior of the dwarfs would remain sympathetic to his late creator.
Photo from Mental Floss