There might very well soon be some big changes for fans of Lord of the Rings as Christopher Tolkien has officially resigned from his position as the Tolkien Estate director. Christopher is the 93-year-old son of Lord of the Rings mastermind and creator, J.R.R. Tolkien. Tolkien has overseen and been a big part of several enormous decisions when it comes to the handling of his father's classic works and has always had a very particular viewpoint.
Since he's been in control of the estate, Christopher has been an undeniable purist when it comes to the Lord of the Rings. Tolkien treated his father's work with the utmost respect and care, being very careful about who gets control of telling stories in the universe and what they're allowed to do. This is why the news of his retirement could have big repercussions for the future of Lord of the Rings. The newly announced (and somewhat controversial) Amazon TV series set in the Lord of the Rings universe could be the first of many radical changes for the brand.
Tolkien's retirement is not a brand-new development. According to TheOneRing.net, Christopher began the process of stepping away from the Tolkien Estate back in August 2017. It's taken several months for the legal issues to be worked out but now it appears that Tolkien's involvement has been more or less severed. This is important though because of the recent news of the TV series going ahead. Evidently, the TV series is only happening because Tolkien has stepped down.
Christopher has always had a bit of a iron grip on his father's stories and the only thing he sold was the movie rights back in 1969. Shortly after Tolkien stepped down as director however, the new person in charge of the estate sold the TV rights, which ended up producing the deal between Warner Bros. and Amazon. Obviously, deals of this nature don't happen overnight and it's even possible that there were talks of a TV series ongoing while Christopher Tolkien was still serving as estate director. Yet the final decision was certainly made when Tolkien no longer had any say or control. The timing is undoubtedly notable and at the very least it suggests that the new estate director is much more willing to make deals and sell the rights to Lord of the Rings than Christopher Tolkien.
There's a real chance that the Lord of the Rings brand could expand and become an even bigger franchise in the future, similar to what is currently happening with Harry Potter and Star Wars. While there are no plans for a theme park or even more movies in the pipeline, the option is definitely open, much more than ever before with Tolkien's retirement. Lord of the Rings, which despite its popularity and influence, has always remained a rather small and insular brand existing mainly in the realms of books and movies, but could spread out.
This isn't necessarily bad thing. There are plenty of stories and information out there directly from J.R.R. Tolkien himself that are worthy of some kind of larger adaptation. There's no reason that the world of the Lord of the Rings should begin and end with The Hobbit and the main trilogy of films/books. Even if the world of the Lord of the Rings becomes much more expansive, the heart of the stories and what fans love could very well stay in tact. This is a big move and could usher in some enormous changes but there's nothing inherently wrong with change.