I am cautiously excited about the multi-season prequel series to The Lord of the Rings which will be produced by Amazon.
It was reported in November 2017 that the streaming giant has signed a deal with Tolkien’s estate, publisher HarperCollins and Warner Bros’ New Line imprint to create an original story that tells the events before The Fellowship of the Ring. There is also the possibility of spin-offs.
I say cautiously excited rather than very excited because there are many things that could go wrong with the planned series. If Amazon approaches it with the love and reverence due to Tolkien’s legacy, then the series stands a better chance of becoming a beloved classic in the same way as the movie trilogy by Peter Jackson has become. But if it’s the love of money that prevails, and the franchise is seen nothing more than a profit generator for Amazon, then I would be very worried.
John Rhys-Davies, who played the dwarf Gimli in the movies, shares the same concerns – even going as far as saying Tolkien would not approve. In an interview with the Den of Geek website, he said: “Well, you know they have the money to do it. Why we quite need Lord Of The Rings as a TV series baffles me slightly … I mean, poor Tolkien must be spinning in his grave.”
Most fans would say that the movie trilogy was near-perfect, something that does not need updating or improving. Rhys-Davies agrees, saying that Amazon’s intention may not be to produce something that would equal or surpass the movies. He says, “it’s not about doing it better, it’s about making more money that’s all. If they think they can make more money, then they will.”
And then he suggests something that he thinks would pay tribute to Tolkien (and fans of The Lord of the Rings) in a more meaningful way. He points out that The Lord of the Rings has inspired countless of “imitations about elves and dwarves and things like that”. Why not adapt those instead?
“That would make a far more interesting account of Tolkien’s words … It costs less to make and it would be original and fresh, but then what the hell do I know!?”
What a great idea! I for one would love to see some of the Middle Earth imitators adapted for the big screen or TV, such as The Belgariad and The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. I know that Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time is being developed for TV and that a Shannara series is already on its second season but there are many more fantasy series out there that are crying out to be adapted.
(Incidentally, I really hope that TV adaptation of The Wheel of Time series will be far more faithful to the books than the travesty that the Shannara TV series has turned out to be.)