Peter Jackson weighs in on Amazon The Lord of the Rings TV series.
The Oscar-winning director of the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies reveals that the studio has asked him to participate in its next mega-budget series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power and promised to send him scripts – then never contacted him again.
“They asked me if I wanted to be involved – [writer-producer Fran Walsh] and I – and I said, “That’s an impossible question to answer without seeing a script,” Jackson reminded Scott Feinberg on The Hollywood Reporters Awards Speech podcast. “So they said, ‘As soon as we have the first scripts, we’ll send them to you. And the scripts never appeared. That’s the last thing I heard, which is good. No complaints at all.
In a next Deals podcast, talk to The Hollywood Reporters Kim Masters, the filmmaker echoes the anecdote and puts it slightly differently, but makes the same point: “About four, five years ago, they asked me if I would be interested in this,” he says. “So I said, ‘Do you already have the scripts? Because I know how hard scripts were to write for movies, and I didn’t know the people who wrote their scripts. They said, ‘Oh no, we don’t have the scripts yet, but as soon as we have them, we’ll send you the scripts.’ So I was waiting for the scripts to come, and they never did.
In 2018, Jackson told the UK Subway“I think they will send us scripts to see if we can help them.”
Still, Jackson stressed that he has no hard feelings towards Amazon’s series and is looking forward to watching it as a fan of the franchise.
“I’ll watch it,” he said. “I’m not the kind of guy who wishes for ill will. Making movies is hard enough. If someone makes a good movie or TV show, that’s something to celebrate. The only thing I’m looking forward to is actually seeing him as a perfectly neutral viewer. Jackson adds that Amazon is “betting the farm on Tolkien,” given its massive half-billion dollar budget for the show’s first season.
Amazon Studios responded to Jackson’s comments with the following statement: “In pursuing the rights to our show, we were obligated to keep the series distinct and separate from the movies. We have the greatest respect for Peter Jackson and The The Lord of the Rings movies and are thrilled that he can’t wait to watch power rings.”
Sources close to the project describe a complicated and delicate history of the situation. First, that the studio has a high regard for Jackson, and that rings of power Showrunners JD Payne and Patrick McKay have privately attempted to make overtures to the filmmaker. But as the statement suggests, there were also legal concerns about the separation of the movies (which are owned by Warner Bros.) and the TV show. There were also managerial changes during the period in question, with former head of genre programming Sharon Tal Yguado – whom a source described as a proponent of luring Jackson to the project – left the company in 2019. Perhaps even more crucially, sources say the estate of author JRR Tolkien was against Jackson being on board. This shouldn’t be surprising, as the estate had no involvement in his films and Christopher Tolkien has previously slammed the trilogy in the press as “eviscerating” his father’s books, claiming they turned his novels into action movies for young people that lack “beauty and seriousness”. But the estate is involved in the series — Amazon paid the estate an incredible $250 million for the rights to make the show. That said: we don’t just offer to send Peter Jackson a LOTR script, then let the man hang.
Moving on, Jackson was also asked if a movie studio would greenlight his trilogy today, responding, “probably not. … Not with a director like me and a studio that would put their money on the line to three movies,” he says.
Regarding the legacy of his trilogy, Jackson says, “If there was anything we gave to the current movie community, [it’s] that we opened the bag of CGI stuff to have huge battle scenes. That’s a bit of a modest answer considering epic fantasy shows like HBO. game of thrones probably never would have been lit if not for the resounding box office and award-winning success of its trilogy.
Jackson is also an award contender this season for his acclaimed Beatles documentary Come backwhich has been nominated for five Emmy Awards.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power follows the forging of the original Rings of Power during the Second Age that enabled the Dark Lord Sauron to spread evil across Middle-earth. It takes place thousands of years before the events of Jackson’s trilogy. The show will premiere on Prime Video on September 2.
Kim Masters contributed to this report.
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