When it hit theaters in the early aughts, the Peter Jackson-helmed Lord of the Rings trilogy reignited interest in the fantasies of J.R.R. Tolkien in general. One of them even the Oscar for Best Picture! But not everyone was a fan. One of the series’ notable critics was Christopher Tolkien, the author’s son and literary executor, who believed the films “eviscerated” his father’s complex work. The estate’s hatred of the films may have even kept Jackson from returning to Amazon’s super-pricey forthcoming LoTR show, The Rings of Power.
The Hollywood Reporter spoke with Jackson, who revealed that Amazon effectively ghosted him after approaching him. “They asked me if I wanted to be involved—[writer-producer Fran Walsh] and I—and I said, ‘That’s an impossible question to answer without seeing a script,” he said. The super-company told him they’d send him the first couple scripts…which never showed up. “That’s the last thing I heard,” he said, but added that it didn’t bug him: “Which is fine. No complaints at all.”
But THR dug a little deeper and discovered a more complicated story. In a statement Amazon said that while “pursuing the rights for our show, we were obligated to keep the series distinct and separate from the films.” Sources untangled that one a bit. For one thing, Amazon lawyers were opposed to the idea, likely because Warner Bros. currently owns the rights to the films and they didn’t want any overlap.
But also reportedly against Jackson returning was the Tolkien estate. They own the rights to the books, for which Amazon forked over a princely $250 million. The Tolkien estate is clearly very opinionated; they also disavowed Tolkien, the biopic about the author starring Nicholas Hoult. Put two and two together and you can imagine Amazon doing whatever the Tolkien people say. But Jackson, who’s already returned to the Middle-earth well before, at least says he’s cool with that. Besides, he’s already moved on to other matters, namely World War I, The Beatles, and incredible but ethically dodgy restorations of archival footage.