Amazon's Lord of the Rings TV series has tapped Star Trek 4 screenwriters JD Payne and Patrick McKay to develop the story, based on J.R.R Tolkien's famous books. Amazon acquired the rights to the series from the Tolkien estate back in fall 2017, in a deal estimated to be worth around $250 million. One of the terms within the deal was to begin production on the series within two years. Amazon head Jennifer Salke recently said the Lord of the Rings series could premiere as soon in 2021, suggesting it will begin filming within the required time frame.
According to Amazon, The Lord of the Rings series will delve into the stories that occurred before the first film, The Fellowship of the Ring. Acquiring this popular property is part of a larger focus by CEO Jeff Bezos to add to and improve the programming found on Amazon's Prime streaming service. Amazon has already hired The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman to work on bringing his Invincible comic series to the small screen. The retail giant continues its focus on hiring some of Hollywood's biggest creatives by hiring JD Payne and Patrick McKay to work on Lord of the Rings.
In a statement provided by Amazon Studios, Salke discussed how important it was to acquire the right writers for a project of this magnitude:
"When we announced it, many agents called and with clients and British writers have come calling. There have been a lot of informational meetings about the material and about the scope of what we can do. My hope would be to put together a group of talented people, which will obviously have a leader who can embark on this big ambitious endeavor."
Now that Payne and McKay are part of this new fellowship intended to move the project forward, they released their own statement detailing how excited they are to work within Tolkien's iconic world:
"We are absolutely thrilled to be partnering with Amazon to bring it to life anew. We feel like Frodo, setting out from the Shire, with a great responsibility in our care — it is the beginning of the adventure of a lifetime.”
Payne and McKay are known for writing Star Trek 4 for producer J.J. Abrams and adapting Jungle Cruise for Disney, which stars Jumanji's Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Their comments about the thrill of being asked to write for the new series should deeply resonate with all fans of Lord of The Rings. The duo clearly has a healthy respect for the franchise and its many memorable characters and epic storylines.
Of course, when it comes to screen adaptations of Lord of the Rings, one person comes to mind for fans: Peter Jackson. There have been conflicting reports regarding his potential involvement with Amazon's series, but according to Salke, there's still a chance of Jackson playing a bigger role:"He may say he is involved or he's not involved. We're still very much in conversation with him about what kind of involvement he would propose." Amazon is clearly interested in allowing Jackson to be part of this series in some way. His experience with the franchise and its characters would no doubt provide valuable insight as the creative process proceeds onward.
Source: Amazon Studios