Warner Bros. TV and Amazon Studios are in the early stages of adapting J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy in a TV series. New Line Cinema famously produced and distributed Peter Jackson’s film trilogy from 2001 to 2003 before being acquired by WB, which oversay the filmmaker’s The Hobbit trilogy from 2012 to 2014. And now, it seems they are looking to bring the story to the small screen courtesy of Amazon. However, the studios are reportedly still embroiled with the Tolkien estate over rights issues. While the would-be TV series hasn’t been given the green light yet, it’s not too surprising that Amazon wants their own version of Game of Thrones – and The Lord of the Rings series is a logical choice since it’s so well known.
In total, all six Middle-Earth movies have garnered a whopping $5.847 billion at the worldwide box office (WB’s second-biggest francise behind Harry Potter), unadjusted for ticket-price inflation. Beyond being critically and commercially successful, the original trilogy is regarded by many as one of the greatest movie trilogies ever to release. What’s more, The Return of the King still holds the record for the highest Oscars sweep, winning in all 11 categories it was nominated for, including Best Picture (ROTK is the only fantasy film ever to win in the coveted category). With all of that in mind, it’s easy to see why the studio would be interested in developing more Middle-Earth stories, but a straight up Lord of the Rings TV series is not the way to go. There are a number of other ways Tolkien’s work can be adapted to TV without simply remaking the movies in long form.
The vast majority of the general public associate Tolkien’s works with Middle-Earth, but the fact of the matter is, there’s so much more to the universe of Eä – the fictional universe in which The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings stories exist – than the War of the Ring, and all of that can be found in The Silmarillion.
For those that don’t know, The Silmarillion is a collection of Tolkien’s works that was first published by his son, Christopher Tolkien, in 1977. The book is divided into five sections: The Ainulindalë (a cosmogony detailing the creation of Eä), The Valaquenta (footnotes of the universe’s divine characters, such as Valar and Maiar), The Quenta Silmarillion (a chronicle of major events from the First Age), The Akallabêth (the history of the Second Age), and Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age (the stories of Sauron and the Rings of Power).
The Silmarillion is considered by many to be unfilmable, so why not turn it into an anthology series instead? The first two sections may not be interesting enough for general audiences, but the studio could cherry-pick events from The Quenta Silmarillion and adapt them one season at a time. Or, if Amazon and Warner Bros. TV are keen on sticking to the Rings of Power, they could easily tell stories about how the Rings were made, all of which are detailed in The Silmarillion and provide ample material for multiple seasons.
The Book of Lost Tales
Another option for Amazon Studios would be to adapt The Book of Lost Tales, specifically Part Two. A few years after publishing The Silmarillion, Christopher Tolkien published a two-part novel known as The Book of Lost Tales – comprising of the first two volumes in the 12-volume series The History of Middle-Earth. The book is a collection of J.R.R. Tolkien’s earliest stories/lost tales that would later become part of his legendarium. And while they aren’t all completed works, some of the stories are captivating enough to be told through a short-run series, or even a limited series.
The most feasible stories could be ‘The Fall of Gondolin’ (an account of the fall of the Elven home of Gondolin during the First Age) or ‘The Tale of Eärendil,’ which depicts the travels of Eärendil, – half-ma, half-elf, the father of Elrond, and ancestor of Aragorn – across the world. Also, since he’s the father of Elrond, who plays an integral role in The Lord of the Rings. Amazon could prop up the potential series by casting a young Elrond at some point.
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