Out of the recent interview with the Head of Amazon Studios Jennifer Salke, more details are being reported by various outlets about the series direction, the Tolkien estate involvement and talks with Peter Jackson.
Salke inherited a number of projects in the works, none bigger than a forthcoming series adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings,” the subject of a massive deal last year that Bezos involved himself personally in. According to Salke, that deal only officially closed last month. But Amazon has been meeting with writers. Salke herself spent three hours with Tolkien’s grandson Simon Tolkien, and the next step is for representatives of the Tolkien estate to meet with writers.
“It’s a partnership,” she said of Amazon’s deal with the estate. “They have some lines in the play on this on strategy and on vision. The great news about that is that they’re actually really thoughtful and smart, as you would expect.”
The Tolkien deal covers most, but not all of the material connected to the author’s Middle Earth saga. Salke said that it is still too early to say what shape, exactly, the series will take. But, she added, “It’s not a remaking of the movies, and it’s not a whole new thing. It’s something in between. It’s not, ‘Oh, it’s “Lord of the Rings” but you don’t recognize anything in it,’ but it’s not totally familiar to you either. So it’s original.”
DEADLINE: The Lord of the Rings series. Have you locked in writers for that yet?
SALKE: Despite all the noise around Lord of the Rings, the deal only closed like a month ago. But in the meantime, I’ve sat with Simon Tolkien for a couple of hours, and (Amazon TV executive) Sharon (Tal Yguado) has spent tons of time with them. She had spent the last couple of months meeting anyone who had said, I’m really passionate about it and I want to get in and talk about the show and what’s possible. I think you’ll see us honing in on a strategy in the next month, which might involve a group of writers. Clearly, there’ll be someone in charge, but it involves the estate and Peter Jackson, and there’s a lot of conversations.
DEADLINE: Is Peter Jackson involved in the series?
SALKE: The Peter Jackson conversations, right now we’re right in the middle of them. It’s like, how much do you want to be involved, how little? I know there’s been some discussion, and he’s even said some things, but as far as I’m aware, the latest is that we’re just in a conversation with him about how much or how little he would be involved.
DEADLINE: Are you working on one Lord of the Rings series or multiple ones?
SALKE: One. At the moment, one big series.
DEADLINE: With the same characters as the movies?
SALKE: I think you can know that we’re not remaking the movies, but we’re also not starting from scratch. So, it’ll be characters you love.
DEADLINE: For example?
SALKE: I can’t give that out, I don’t have anything for it.
DEADLINE: Where will you shoot the series? Peter Jackson has got his whole Middle Earth built in New Zealand.
SALKE: I think we might be in New Zealand. I don’t know, but we’re going to have to go somewhere interesting that could provide those locations in a really authentic way, because we want it to look incredible. There’s no shortage of ambition for the project. We’ll go where we need to go to make it happen.
As previously rumored, we have some idea of who the “characters you love” may be involved in the series. What do you make of the other details emerging?