As we enter the new era of remake-mania, it is not surprising that “Lord of the Rings” is just one of many classics being adapted for a major streaming service. The new “Lord of the Rings” series is one of Amazon’s most ambitious projects to date, currently slated for five seasons and an astounding $1 billion budget. The series unsurprisingly boasts some of the biggest names in the industry with J. A. Barrona (“Jurassic World: The Fallen Kingdom”) set to direct the first two episodes and Will Poulter (“Black Mirror: Bandersnatch”) set to star in an unannounced role. Executive producers Bruce Richmond (“Game of Thrones”) and Justin Doble (“Stranger Things”) are also attached to the project.
It seems as though Amazon intends to stay faithful to the beloved source material by actively involving Tolkien scholar Tom Shippey in the entire process. The show will take place during the Second Age, unlike Peter Jackson’s film trilogy which focuses on the Third Age of Middle Earth. The Tolkien estate has prohibited Amazon from changing the structure of the Second Age, but Amazon will have a fair amount of creative freedom to tie up loose ends and integrate new characters.
Amazon has reportedly been eyeing the prospect of creating their own “Game of Thrones” for a while now. Although it is hard to say if the Amazon series will surpass the success of HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” “Lord of the Rings” already has a solidified fanbase that will most definitely draw millions of viewers. It seems that streaming services and mega studios are opting to pour unlimited resources into remaking classics instead of creating new content. Remakes are almost always guaranteed financial successes because of audience nostalgia. People are willing to watch their favorite movie be adapted anew because of their deep, emotional connection to the original material. Nostalgia undoubtedly played a key factor in the billion dollar success of the “Lion King” remake. Despite mixed reviews from critics, the film has gone on to be the highest grossing animated film of all time and the seventh highest grossing film overall. If Amazon’s new “Lord of the Rings” series follows this model, it will quickly rise to the top even if it fails to impress critics.
Streaming services are dominating the film industry right now. With Netflix as the reigning giant and Disney+ on the way, it is safe to say that Amazon’s “Lord of the Rings” series might be the studio’s last opportunity to solidify itself as one of the top streaming services. Amazon won a bidding war with Netflix in order to acquire the rights to the Tolkien series for a staggering $250 million, and it is clear that they are counting on this series to cement Amazon as a household name in the entertainment industry. However, Amazon is not the only studio with plans to remake a legendary series. Netflix recently acquired the rights to C.S. Lewis’ “Chronicles of Narnia.” Netflix reportedly has plans to create a “Narnia Universe” that would include both movies and TV shows, similar to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. With Amazon and Netflix both adapting legendary series for the small screen, it is unclear what the future has in store for franchises. It seems more and more likely that we are heading towards a world where franchises will collectively rule streaming services and cinema screens.