As we reported last week, Amazon was on the hunt for a mega-franchise, and it appears they’ve got one – and paid a handsome price for it.
Reports are in that Amazon has purchased the TV rights to The Lord Of The Rings – or at least some portion of stories from Middle-earth – for what may be close to $250 million just for the rights, and they’ve made a multi-season commitment already. It is expected a worth production could cost $100-150 million per season. The deal also includes a potential spin-off series.
The twist to the story is that it will not simply be a remake of the movies, but instead cover some period before the time of The Lord Of The Rings. It is not certain if this means it will be set in the time between The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings, or delve further back into the expansive mythology laid out by J.R.R. Tolkien.
This is interesting…we hear that the Tolkien estate, which manages all the rights to J.R.R. Tolkien’s works, is shopping around the rights to a TV series based on Lord Of The Rings to various outlets. Even more interesting is the huge price tag they are placing on it, which is said to be $200-250 million – just for the rights.
Such a project would be hugely ambitious and likely expensive to produce properly, which limits the outlets that could potentially take it on. HBO seems like a natural choice, having already done Game Of Thrones, and with it concluding in its upcoming eighth season that may be looking to fill the void it will leave behind (spinoffs notwithstanding.) Another possibility is Amazon, which is looking for its own GoT franchise and has some ambitious projects already in the works. I’d expect any such production to have to run for quite a few years just in order to break even for the rights purchase, which could make it very hard to pull the trigger.
In addition, they would probably have to lengthen to story significantly in order to stretch it long enough, perhaps by integrating a number of other stories of Middle-earth (as flashback storytelling or something like that), but I understand the rights are very limited as well.
At any rate, I think it would be tough to score big with a production that has to live up to and even surpass three great films in order to be deemed a success.
It’s been a light holiday week (a working one for me…) unless you are in the political news arena, but I thought I’d just do a quick roundup of the most interesting stories…
Comic Con International is coming up, and I won’t be there again (yes, we know Doc, every year…hey, it’s pretty far away!) and so there ls lots of news swirling around about who will be there…but just recently announced is a reunion of the Syfy version of Battlestar Galactica. So far confirmed are Tricia Helfer, Katee Sackhoff, Mary McDonnell and Grace Park, with many more expected. It will take places at 2:30 PM on Thursday, July 20, in Ballroom 20. Word is that Peter Capaldi will appear one last time as well for Doctor Who on the final day (July 23rd) in the massive Hall H.
Comic Con International also re-upped with the city of San Diego to stay put for four more years.
Remember that lawsuit by the Tolkien estate against Warner Bros over the license for gambling devices and games? Well, it’s finally over. The parties agreed to a settlement in the case, and in a joint statement said, “The parties are pleased that they have amicably resolved this matter and look forward to working together in the future.” Hmm…could they be considering more productions?
Oh…Sony Pictures posted an interesting YouTube video:
A lot of people seem to think this may mean an sequel to Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, but we would put money on this just being viral hype for a 40th Anniversary release of the original.
Supergirl fans will see the return of a character this upcoming season, but with a slightly different face. Laura Benanti, who played Alura Zor-El and Astra in the first season (and an appearance in one episode in the second season), is apparently not available due to commitments in New York. Erica Durance, who played Lois Lane on Smallville and most recently was starring in Saving Hope which finishes it’s final season this summer, will take over the role of Alura.
And lastly, it is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Stan Lee’s wonderful wife Joan yesterday at the age of 93. She’s widely considered to have helped convince her husband to come up with a new kind of superhero – flawed and human – that propelled Stan Lee into comic royalty. They had been married for 69 years. Our thoughts are with Stan.
Remember when the estate for author J.R.R. Tolkien filed suit against Warner Bros over a Lord Of The Rings-themed online gambling game? Well, it seems that Warner Bros has won the first round.
Warner Bros (and Saul Zentz, the longtime rights holder) filed a countersuit in March against the estate, claiming that the initial lawsuit “hurt financially and had its rights to the author’s properties undermined,” and that it had to cancel the licensing agreement with Microgaming because of the suit, and that the estate has been receiving royalties from the agreement that was re-worked in 2010 already.
Today, a federal judge dismissed the motion by the plaintiffs to have the counterclaims dismissed, allowing the countersuit to move forward.
When it rains…it seems the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien is upset over an online slot machine game using the Lord Of The Rings property – so much so that they’ve sued Warner Bros, New Line, and Saul Zentz Co. (the long-time movie rights holder Lord Of The Rings) for $80 million.
Apparently the estate’s lawyers received a spam email about the game, and looked into the rights. In the lawsuit they claim, “The original contracting parties thus contemplated a limited grant of the right to sell consumer products of the type regularly merchandised at the time such as figurines, tableware, stationery items, clothing and the like. They did not include any grant of exploitations such as electronic or digital rights, rights in media yet to be devised or other intangibles such as rights in services.” The estate also learned that a physical slot machine game was also planned.
There are video games, etc. based on the movies, so it seems odd that this particular claim is made, as it seems to imply that those rights were not granted to the defendants.
One more of the rumored cast members has become true: James Nesbitt (Jekyll) has been cast has as Bofur, described as “a disarmingly forthright, funny and occasionally brave Dwarf.” “James’s charm, warmth and wit are legendary as is his range as an actor in both comedic and dramatic roles. We feel very lucky to be able to welcome him as one of our cast.” said director Peter Jackson. Also announced was newcomer Adam Brown, who will play Ori.
Reports are hitting the streets that The Hobbit has finally gotten the go ahead for formal production – TheWrap reports that the production has been given the green light, with Peter Jackson agreeing to direct in addition to his producing and writing duties, although The Hollywood Reporter says that the acting union issue is still a key hurdle to be overcome to make the hoped for February filming date, and that the MGM debt/funding issue is not necessarily settled, but shouldn’t be a stopper.
Update: – It’s official now, as New Line president Toby Emmerich, Warner Bros. President Alan Horn, and MGM co-CEO Steve Cooper jointly announced it, with principle photography to begin in February.
Blastr (nee Sci-Fi Wire) has an interesting graphical representation of what has transpired in the history of attempting to get a live-action version of The Hobbit on the big screen – think Family Circus. Points off though for “The Similarion”.
Just an update on the latest of the Hobbit saga – the production, not the story: Peter Jackson is reportedly meeting with actors this week in LA, with NY and the U.K. on the schedule, even though the production has not yet received a green light from studios WB and MGM due to MGM’s financial situation. WB is reportedly negotiating with MGM – which really means they are negotiating with creditors who probably see this as MGM’s only major franchise…
The making of The Hobbit could be as much a saga as the story itself. With the departure of Guillermo del Toro as director of the project, there is a void to fill – if production ever gets moving again. Currently at the top of the void-fill rumor list David Yates, who has directed the last 4 Harry Potter films, including the yet-to-be-released two-part finale. Can he move from one epic series to another?