Yet another chapter in the history of unnecessary remakes has begun. And this one may be even more unnecessary than most. This time it comes courtesy of Amazon, who has just announced that it’s bought the television rights to The Lord of the Rings for an estimated $250 million.
This is unwelcome news in many ways, since the original trilogy is not only among the most profitable franchises ever at nearly $6 billion worldwide, it’s loved by both critics and audiences alike. It made Peter Jackson into one of the most successful, sought-after directors in Hollywood, and if some of the cast were well-known before, this series made them household names, albeit only briefly for some. Others seemed bafflingly determined to sink their careers after (seriously, Orlando Bloom, how could you make that many bad decisions?). And let’s just forget that Hobbit trilogy, which showed us just what a naked cash grab completely dependent on audience nostalgia looked like.
But apparently the films never won over the Tolkein Estate, with JRR Tolkein’s last surviving son Christopher Tolkein being especially critical of them. But the Estate is in full cooperation with Amazon, who seem poised to satisfy (or try to) viewer hunger for medieval type epics now that Game of Thrones is winding down, having already committed to several seasons and some potential spin-offs. Amazon seem to be selling this as an opportunity to devote time to the books’ many storylines, but this really seems like a missed opportunity for the company to invest in something new. If they’re willing to do something so potentially historic so game-changing, why not do something new? Or at least bring us a beloved property that hasn’t been done recently. Well, it may be another strike against originality for our times, but it’s undeniable that Amazon has in a sense already won. None of us can deny we’ll all be watching, some of us hoping something old will be made new again, while others will be eager to see the company crash and burn spectacularly.