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Lord of the Rings: Amazon boss reveals when they want to release TV series

'It’ll be in production in two years'

Jack Shepherd
Tuesday 12 June 2018 15:33 BST
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Iconinc 'For Frodo!' scene from Lord of the Rings

While a tonne of information regarding the upcoming Lord of the Rings TV series has found its way online, Amazon has played coy about the series.

Various reports have revealed details about the series, including that the studio has five seasons in the pipeline, the first will centre on a young Aragorn, and that the Tolkien-based series will end up the most expensive TV show of all time.

Now, Jennifer Salke, Amazon Studios’ new executive, has spoken about the series. And although she also kept cards firmly to chest, some interesting revelations have been made.

Salke first confirmed that the series will not retell the main events of the Lord of the Rings novels, but also insisted that the stories will feature characters we recognise.

The executive also told publications that she spent three hours with Simon Tolkien, grandson of J.R.R. Tolkien, about the series, as well as time with Peter Jackson.

However, with regards Jackson who was previously reported as saying he will not be involved, Salke says they have not finalised how involved the filmmaker will be, telling The Hollywood Reporter: “We’re still very much in conversation with him about what kind of involvement he would propose.”

Salke also hinted at when we can expect the series to finally reach Amazon, saying: “It’ll be in production in two years; [on the air in] 2021 is the hope. But there are other people who wish it was 2020.”

Amazon are currently hosting meetings with writers for the new series, although nothing has apparently been set in stone.

“There have been a lot of informational meetings about the material and about the scope of what we can do,” Salke said. ”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 endeavour.”

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Previous reports have claimed the first series will focus on a young Aragon, played by Viggo Mortensen in the films. The story will be derived from Tolkien’s appendices and notes rather than being a direct adaptation of the novel and will reportedly focus on a different character each season.

Certain actors from Jackon’s trilogy may have ruled themselves out of appearing (Andy Serkis who played Gollum and Gimli star John Rhys Davis), however, one person who’d be up for returning is Gandalf himself, Sir Ian McKellen.

Speaking on BBC Radio 2 about the series, he hinted that he’d be unhappy if producers were to recast the character. “What do you mean, another Gandalf?” he told presenter Graham Norton. “I haven’t said yes because I haven’t been asked [to return]. But are you suggesting that someone else is going to play it? Gandalf is over 7,000 years old, so I’m not too old.”

The initial news of a Lord of the Rings series came as a surprise to many. The Tolkien estate had a fraught relationship with the studio who adapted the story with Jackson, New Line, engaging in a legal battle in 2012. The author’s heirs filed a lawsuit against the filmmakers after characters from the series appeared on slot machines and other games. An undisclosed settlement was met out of court.

Tolkien’s son, Christopher, has also been a vocal critic of the filmed adaptations, at one stage saying: “They gutted the book, making an action film for 15 to 25-year-olds.” Christopher resigned from the Tolkien estate on the 31 August last year, only weeks before the Amazon deal was made official. Simon, who has been having the discussions with Amazon, is Christopher’s oldest son.

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