In case you missed it, news broke this week that Amazon is reportedly in talks with J.R.R. Tolkien's estate to produce a Lord of the Rings television series. Apparently, the company is looking for a hit show like Game of Thrones; in fact, the negotiations are getting pretty serious: Jeff Bezos himself is supposedly in on the deal.
Excuse my bluntness, but no, just no.
Call this an open letter of sorts--I don't really care. But for the love, please, Amazon, do not remake Lord of the Rings.
I hear the anguished cries of many diehard Tolkienites already. I know Peter Jackson's movies were not religiously faithful to the books, and even good portions of the books were omitted from the movies. I get that, and I realize that a television show would have the potential to explore some of those aspects of the original work (such as Tom Bombadil).
That said, though I consider myself a Tolkien fan, I'm also somewhat of a movie junkie--my family and I watch movies all the time. From a cinematic perspective, the films are incredibly well-done. Let's face it, too, even those of you who were Tolkien fans before the movies were released have a difficult time separating, say, Orlando Bloom from Legolas or Ian McKellen from Gandalf the Grey. This is especially true for those of us who became fans through the movies (I was three when Jackson's Return of the King was released in theaters).
As such, like it or not, these characters have become nearly inseparable from the actors, at least in popular culture. And pop culture does not appreciate recasting.
Aside from this (as I realize some will still not be convinced), it's inevitable that a television series is going to deviate from the original work in some fashion. Hollywood is quite good at doing that. If you were one who is hoping for a more faithful adaption in a TV series, don't hold your breath.
From the studio's side, a straight up Lord of the Rings adaptation would not attract the same audience as GoT, either, without an extreme (and I mean extreme) perversion of Tolkien's work. Frankly, Game of Thrones is far more graphic, especially with regards to sex, which unfortunately gives it a much wider audience. LOTR is not necessarily fantasy for the masses, despite its superiority to GoT in my opinion.
That isn't to say there isn't an audience for a LOTR television series (obviously, the movies grossed hundreds of millions at the box office). But it won't be the same audience as GoT, and recasted characters would undoubtedly be a turnoff for a good portion of the fans of the films.
Instead, I would like to see Amazon pursue another Tolkien work, such as the Silmarillion. Granted, some of the issues mentioned previously would persist (i.e., different viewership and unfaithfulness to the work), but at the very least, it would be a fresh story to television viewers. In addition, the Silmarillion is a collection of stories that even, at the very end, encompasses the Lord of the Rings. I would be far more interested in seeing a series that gives some background to something like the War of the Last Alliance, where the Ring passed to Isildur, rather than a rehash of LOTR. And the best part is that several other of Tolkien's works go hand in hand with the Silmarillion, providing an almost endless amount of storytelling material.
To me, the world has had enough remakes in recent years. It's time for something new. Mr. Bezos, pick another Tolkien book--he's so much more than just Lord of the Rings.
I'm a sci-fi/fantasy lover & writer who especially likes talking about Star Wars and futuristic tech. I like finding new things & finding the beauty in old things, especially in my "Everyday Snippets" series. I hope you'll join me on my blog and unleash your imagination!