Amazon has acquired the rights to produce a Lord of the Rings multi-season television series, Deadlinereports. The distribution juggernaut paid close to $250 million just to acquire the rights to the show--that's before any production costs at all, including talent, equipment, development, and production.
Netflix and HBO had also been in contention to acquire the show from author J.R.R. Tolkein's estate, but Amazon ultimately won out in one of the most expensive acquisition deals in history. The move is made more intense by the fact that no creative choices on the show have been made yet, save that it will be a prequel series taking place before the first LOTR film, The Fellowship of the Ring.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy has 17 Oscars in total, 11 of which come from the third and final film, The Return of the King, which is tied with Titanic and Ben-Hur for most Academy Awards ever for a single film. The original trilogy starred Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Sean Bean, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom--no word yet if any of the original cast will be asked to be in the Amazon series.
"The Lord of the Rings is a cultural phenomenon that has captured the imagination of generations of fans through literature and the big screen," said Head of Scripted Series at Amazon Studios Sharon Tal Yguado in Deadline's report. "We are honored to be working with the Tolkien Estate and Trust, HarperCollins and New Line on this exciting collaboration for television and are thrilled to be taking The Lord of the Rings fans on a new epic journey in Middle Earth."