Amazon announces Lord of the Rings prequel TV series

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"We are delighted that Amazon, with its longstanding commitment to literature, is the home of the first-ever multi-season television series for The Lord of the Rings", said Tolkien Estate and Trust representative Matt Galsor.

Amazon, on a quest for a mainstream television hit for its television and film studio, has locked up an impressive candidate in a forthcoming television series based on "The Lord of The Rings" universe. Peter Jackson's trilogy of films are towering, inescapable icons of the genre, and it's hard to imagine the story of Frodo and the Fellowship getting a better page-to-screen translation. The show will be set in Middle Earth and explore new story lines preceding J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Fellowship of the Ring".

The studio has already committed to a multi-season run of the new series, produced by Amazon Studios, the Tolkien Estate and Trust, book publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema. The Return of the King won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Today in a press release, Amazon Studios' head of scripted series Sharon Tal Yguado expressed the company's excitement at the idea of bringing audiences with an Amazon Prime subscription back to Middle Earth.

The move by Amazon comes as HBO prepares to conclude its mammoth fantasy hit Game of Thrones, which will nearly certainly premiere its final six episodes in 2019.

Deadline reported that the Tolkien estate approached Amazon, Netflix and HBO while shopping the project and sought an upfront rights payment in the $200 - $250 million range. "That is just for the rights, before any costs for development, talent and production, in proposition whose finances many industry observers called 'insane, '" Deadline writes.