Morfydd Clark (Galadriel)

Amazon Studios Chief Reacts To WB’s Lord of the Rings Plans

Is there enough room in Middle-earth for both Amazon and Warner Bros. Pictures? Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke seems to think so. Last week’s announcement that WB’s new Lord of the Rings plans for additional feature films prompted a diverse mix of reactions from Tolkein fans all over the world. Regardless, Salke appears to be unfazed by the idea of one project upstaging the other.

Amazon currently owns the TV rights to J.R.R. Tolkein’s LOTR saga, resulting in the premiere of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power on Prime Video last fall. Before the first episode debuted, the studio had already committed to five seasons of the show, with season 2 currently in production. And while WB hasn’t revealed a timetable for its own Lord of the Rings movies, it’s certainly possible that at least one of them could overlap with The Rings of Power during its run. But when asked by Variety if this could be “too much” LOTR content for the market, Salke simply said, “We’ll see.”

“We love our original series,” said Salke. “We’re extremely proud of it, and invested long term. So, we definitely think there’s enough fan love to sustain ours for a long time.”

Despite Salke’s amiable response, The Hollywood Reporter paints a different picture of what’s happening behind the scenes. Fans might recall that last year, HBO (a Warners affiliate) debuted House of the Dragon just 12 days before The Rings of Power, setting the stage for a rivalry between the two shows. According to THR, Amazon was blindsided by this move. Although WB lost the adaptation rights to Tolkein’s novels last year, the studio was still considered to be a “minority licensee stakeholder” in the franchise, having released Peter Jackson’s original trilogy via New Line in the early 2000s and The Hobbit trilogy more than a decade later. So in theory, the studio was supposed to be “on the same team” as Amazon.

Now, however, WB has a deal with current LOTR rights-holders Embracer Group, allowing the studio to make new movies. One source even claims that the studio wants to build a “Star Wars-like franchise” out of Tolkein’s books. And apparently, Jackson himself and his original LOTR co-writers Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens are being courted to help guide the films’ development. This is something that Jackson might actually be open to, especially since Amazon ghosted him after initially reaching out

In any case, not everyone has faith in WB’s goals for the Lord of the Rings brand. Several insiders even suggest that revisiting older franchises like this and Harry Potter are indicative of much bigger problems at the studio.

“It’s a sign of desperation,” said one source.” They want to make it seem like they are the studio of old. The Hobbit didn’t leave people wanting more.”  

Do you think two rival Lord of the Rings franchises can thrive on the big and small screens? Let us know in the comment section below!

Recommended Reading: J.R.R. Tolkien 4-Book Boxed Set: The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings

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