Amazon’s quest to find the next Game of Thrones is no secret. Amazon Studios chief Roy Price had admitted to Variety a few months back that GoT‘s success is incredibly inspiring. “I do think Game of Thrones is to TV as Jaws and Star Wars was to the movies of the 1970s. It’ll inspire a lot of people. Everybody wants a big hit and certainly that’s the show of the moment in terms of being a model for a hit,” he had said.
So What’s Amazon’s End Game?
Amazon is one of the most popular streaming services, and its Prime video streaming service has been looking to compete in the original content market. Especially since HBO has Game of Thrones, Netflix boasts of Stranger Things, House of Cards, Bojack Horseman, Medici: Masters of Florence; and even Hulu has The Handmaid’s Tale. Amazon originals like Transparent and Batman: The Animated Series have done well for themselves, and have acquired critical and commercial acclaim. But Amazon Prime has not had a breakthrough hit, which could be the face of the service. Enter: Lord of the Rings reboot.
Amazon approached Warner Bros and the estate of JRR Tolkien, the creator of the LOTR franchise, to bring the middle-earth franchise into the streaming market – as an original binge-watching content. But rebooting Lord of the Rings as an original fantasy watch is simply not plausible, because at this point it won’t be an original. The multi-million dollar franchise has acquired an expansive fandom and eleven Oscars – it is the absolute definition of a masterpiece. Amazon’s reboot will be drawn into comparison with the original films at every step, and that cannot be a good thing.
No Franchise is Too Big to Fail, Not Even Lord of the Rings
“The biggest problem standing in the way of a successful Lord of the Rings adaptation is the fact that there is already an extremely successful Lord of the Rings adaptation that’s the most famous, most beloved, highest-grossing-fantasy-series-not-about-a-boy-wizard out there,” Paul Tassi writes on Forbes. It is also unthinkable that Amazon will be able to sell the new LOTR like HBO had sold GoT, because… again, it’s Lord of the Rings. It’s the father of all fantasy screen outings and re-marketing it with a different cast will never sit well with the original fandom. The series has even been a major inspiration for the Song of Ice and Fire chapter of Game of Thrones. Moreover, GoT creator, George RR Martin himself, admits that Tolkien was his “great model” when it came to conceiving the books.
Fans and experts have also pointed out that LOTR is not written for television, mainly because the brilliant middle-earth detailing would just wouldn’t get its due in a binge-watch situation. Plus, it obviously lacks the element of surprise that fantasy series like GoT or even thrillers like Stranger Things or House of Cards enjoy, owing to the fact, that people already know what is going to happen next.
Did you know?
HBO CEO Richard Plepler passed on the offer to make the LOTR reboot. “I’d rather own our IP [intellectual property] 100%… and I’d rather have the ability to work with a product that is inextricably linked to our brand. If I’m Jeff Bezos [Amazon owner], that’s Monopoly money (the $250 million dollar deal),” he said recently.