The Tolkien estate allegedly rejected bringing Peter Jackson into Amazon’s LOTR show

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson
Photo: Hagen Hopkins (Getty Images)

Hobbit drama news alert: Peter Jackson says he got some decidedly mixed messages about potential involvement in Amazon’s Lord Of The Rings show, The Rings Of Power, over the last few years. This is per THRwhich reports on a recent podcast conversation it had with the Lord Of The Rings filmmaker, in which he revealed that Amazon had originally reached out to him about potentially getting involved in its massively expensive adaptation of the Tolkien canon—and then ghosted him.

Jackson: “They asked me if I wanted to be involved[writer-producer Fran Walsh] and Iand I said, ‘That’s an impossible question to answer without seeing a script. So they said, ‘As soon as we get the first couple of scripts, we’ll send them to you.’ And the scripts never showed up. That’s the last thing I heard.” To be clear, Jackson—who expressed his enjoyment at the idea of ​​approaching the show as a “totally neutral viewer”—didn’t sound upset about how it all shook out: “Which is fine. No complaints at all.”

What’s most interesting here, though, is how this about-face seems to have happened on Amazon’s side: When reached for comment by THRthe company gave a statement that “in pursuing the rights for our show, we were obliged to keep the series distinct and separate from the films.” (Warner Bros. owns the rights to the Jackson movies, so Amazon can’t use any elements that originated in them.) They added that “We have the utmost respect for Peter Jackson and The Lord of the Rings films and are thrilled that he is looking forward to watching The Rings of Power.”

But THR also quotes “sources close to the project” that paint a messier story, noting that series showrunners JD Payne and Patrick McKay, and former Amazon executive Sharon Tal Yguado (who left the company in 2019) were both interested in luring Jackson into some level of collaboration. Opposed to the idea, apparently, were Amazon’s lawyers (for the aforementioned reasons). But also the Tolkien estate, whose chief representative, JRR Tolkien’s son and literary executor, Christopher Tolkien, has been vocal in the past about his distaste for Jackson’s films. (“The commercialization has reduced the aesthetic and philosophical impact of the creation to nothing,Tolkien said in an interview in 2012.) Amazon paid the estate some $250 million for the rights to its series—and also, of course, for the sheen of legitimacy of their support of Rings Of Power would confer. So when they were “against having Jackson on board,” according to these same unnamed sources, it’s not hard to see that being a fairly decisive vote that put the kibosh on plans to try to bring Jackson into the fold.

Amazon’s The Rings Of Power debuts on September 2.

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