A map of Middle Earth, drawn by J.R.R. Tolkien. Image taken from www.donsmaps.com

A map of Middle Earth, drawn by J.R.R. Tolkien. Image taken from www.donsmaps.com

Opinion: “Don’t go where I can’t follow!”

Where will Amazon go with newly acquired rights to Lord of the Rings?

Paul Rodgers

“When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.”

So begins chapter one of “The Fellowship of the Ring”, book one of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien; arguably the single-most important work of fantasy literature ever written. As Amazon has now secured the rights to said masterpiece with the plan to develop a multi-season TV series (hopefully of special significance) there is indeed much talk and excitement abounding.

Now, one does not simply buy the rights to the greatest work of fantasy of all time. Amazon reportedly paid the Tolkien Estate between $200 and $250 million for them, beating out giants Netflix and HBO.

Amazon Studios will be undertaking this lofty TV quest with the help of a fellowship comprised of Tolkien Estate and Trust, HarperCollins and New Line Cinema, who produced Peter Jackson’s monumentally successful film adaptation of LotR in 2001, 2002 and 2003.

The popularity of that film trilogy, with its combined running time of over eleven hours, 17 Oscar wins (including a Best Picture win for “The Return of the King”) and a global gross amount of almost $6 billion, is such that it’s still near and dear to the hearts and minds of its millions of fans. Though I’m not sure the same can be said of the more recent and — in mine and many other opinion’s — downright awful three-part Hobbit series. (They took one short book for children and turned into three ridiculous movies, it felt stretched, thin. Like… butter, scraped over too much bread … or something).

Because the LOTR trilogy is relatively new, and Amazon’s press release is so vague, it has left many wondering what exactly the upcoming TV series will be about.

According to Amazon’s press release, the show will be “set in Middle Earth” and will “explore new storylines preceding J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Fellowship of the Ring.” The deal includes a potential additional spin-off series.

So it may be that due to the freshness in the collective memory of the masses, they have decided that instead of just doing their own take on the original trilogy, they will take a crack at tackling some of Middle Earth’s prehistory. Does that mean a TV adaptation of “The Silmarillion”?

I’m a long time Tolkien fan. It’s sort of an archetypal thing for me actually — coded into my earliest memories, when my grandfather, who passed away when I was six, read me “The Hobbit” when I came to visit. I read the Lord of the Rings between the ages of eleven and twelve, right around the time the movies started to come out. I loved the films and have seen them, in all their extended glory, more times than I care to mention. They are … precious to me.

When I first heard that a TV adaptation was in the works I was felt a strange sense of excitement tinged with a morbid curiosity. It’s dangerous business, going out and trying to adapt one of the most loved stories of all time. After the travesty that was “The Hobbit” movies, and with my love of the books and movie trilogy, I had hoped that they would redo the original by dedicating one season to each book, and perhaps start with a prequel season in which they tackle the stories of “The Silmarillion”, the origin stories of Middle Earth. That would make room to explore stories and characters the movies altered or entirely neglected such as that trippy scene with Tom Bombadil and the Barrow Wights. It is, however, unknown if they have also acquired the rights to “The Silmarillion”, and because it’s written more as a history textbook than a novel, it would not be easy to adapt.

While it’s unclear what exactly they intend to do, it is obvious that Amazon has a deep respect for the literature itself. In their press release they point out that the books were named Amazon customers’ favourite book of the millennium in 1999 and that it is Britain’s best-loved novel of all time according to BBC’s The Big Read from 2003.

Tolkien is a mythmaker beyond compare. The world he created extends so far beyond what is contained in LotR that there is no doubt in my mind that Amazon, if they get the best writers, producers, directors and actors to share the load of creating this new series, has more than enough subject matter to create something worthwhile.

And as Tolkien himself said: “Don’t adventures ever have an end? I suppose not. Someone else always has to carry on the story.”

Just Posted

Students at Creston Valley Secondary School put together an art installation of a replica residential school room. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
Creston students create art installation of residential school room

The replica was decorated with a small bed, school uniform, and notes written with pleas for help

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Second dose vaccinations accelerating throughout region: Interior Health

To date, more than 675,000 doses have been administered throughout the region

It happened this week in 1914

June 13 - 19: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the archived newspapers… Continue reading

Prince Charles Secondary School
School District 8 votes in favour of name change for Secondary School in Creston

In an act of reconciliation, a new name will be chosen for Prince Charles Secondary School

Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison. Photo courtesy Conservative Party of Canada.
MP Morrison appointed to parliamentary national security committee

Kootenay-Columbia parliamentarian one of five candidates appointed to national security committee

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
BC Green leader Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

B.C. Premier John Horgan leaves his office for a news conference in the legislature rose garden, June 3, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. premier roasted for office budget, taxing COVID-19 benefits

Youth addiction law that triggered election hasn’t appeared

A vial containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a vaccination site in Marcq en Baroeul, outside Lille, northern France, Saturday, March 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michel Spingler
mRNA vaccines ‘preferred’ for all Canadians, including as 2nd dose after AstraZeneca: NACI

New recommendations prioritizes Pfizer, Moderna in almost all cases

Most Read