Ama­zon to make Lord of the Rings TV series

NT News - - ENTERTAINMENT - JEFFREY DASTIN

AMA­ZON.COM Inc has bought the global tele­vi­sion rights to The Lord of the Rings, in what may be its big­gest and most ex­pen­sive move yet to draw view­ers to its stream­ing ser­vice, Prime.

Ama­zon says it will pro­duce a multi-sea­son series that ex­plores new sto­ry­lines pre­ced­ing au­thor J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fel­low­ship of the Ring, the first in­stal­ment in the famed fan­tasy tril­ogy.

Three movies made of the tril­ogy in the early 2000s, filmed in New Zealand and based on Tolkien’s nov­els, gar­nered nearly $US3 bil­lion ($A4.2 bil­lion) at the box of­fice and 17 Academy Awards.

New Line Cinema — which dis­trib­uted the film tril­ogy, the Tolkien Es­tate and Trust, and pub­lisher HarperCollins will work with Ama­zon to pro­duce the tele­vi­sion series.

Ama­zon did not say how much it was pay­ing for the rights.

The project un­der­scores a shift in Ama­zon’s video pro­gram­ming.

Its stu­dio started in 2010 with a fo­cus on unique shows beloved by crit­ics, such as Trans­par­ent, about a fa­ther com­ing out as trans­gen­der to his fam­ily.

That was a win­ning for­mula for at­tract­ing Hol­ly­wood tal­ent, awards and buzz, though not Prime sub­scribers around the world.

Now, Ama­zon is look­ing for a dra­matic show that could be a hit glob­ally, much like HBO’s pop­u­lar fan­tasy series Game of Thrones.

This puts Ama­zon in un­charted ter­ri­tory, with high­erthan-usual pro­duc­tion costs ex­pected so it can trans­port view­ers to Mid­dle Earth.

Ama­zon jus­ti­fies its spend­ing on pro­gram­ming as a way to draw new sign-ups to its stream­ing ser­vice.

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