Amazon Reportedly Chose The Rings of Power Over Young Aragorn and Gimli Spinoffs

Amazon had a multitude of The Lord of the Rings projects to choose from but went ahead with The Rings of Power from creators J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay. The pair recently revealed how they managed to land the gig at Amazon, and it was no easy task.

Amazon paid $250 million for the global television rights to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings in 2017. And the deal happened before any project was greenlit or creative talent was hired. This was in stark contrast to industry norms and was a significant risk, considering the costs involved, but that was no issue for Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who personally oversaw the negotiations. Bezos is apparently a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings.

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Amazon began hearing pitches and scouting for writers shortly after, and a year later, screenwriter duo J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay were hired to develop the series. Payne and McKay didn’t have many titles to their credit and had only written unproduced screenplays at the time, including an earlier draft of 2016’s Star Trek Beyond. But the pair’s multi-season arc and original vision impressed the studio. Amazon chose The Rings of Power over a young Aragorn and a Gimli spinoff series, Payne told Total Film:

“When we first went up for the job, we were told there were literally dozens of other people who were also throwing their hat in the ring, and everyone was coming in with different things. Amazon bought the rights to the trilogy, the appendices, and The Hobbit. They said the field was wide open – any story within that material, you could tell. So you had people pitching the Young Aragon show, or the Gimli spinoff, or other kinds of things.”

Payne mentions that Amazon has the rights to the trilogy and The Hobbit as well, in addition to the appendices, which The Rings of Power is inspired by. This information contradicts earlier reports that Amazon only has permission to adapt the Lord of the Rings appendices. It could be a slip of the tongue, or perhaps Amazon is in possession of more Lord of the Rings material than it’s ready to disclose.

Amazon Wanted The Lord Of The Rings Series To Rival HBO’s Game Of Thrones

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One of the reasons Jeff Bezos and Amazon were so enthusiastic about Lord of the Rings was that the streamer lacked a high-profile fantasy franchise of its own, unlike HBO, which is home to Game of Thrones. And a young Aragorn show or a Gimli spinoff, though they sound intriguing, would have only run for one or two seasons, and Amazon wanted something more ambitious. J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay’s plans to set the series in the Second Age of Middle Earth looked promising, and here we are, one month away from The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’s debut.

“They wanted to make something that felt worthy of Tolkien,” Payne said. “And as we really thought about it, and culled through the material, and saw all different kind of stories – that story of the Second Age, so the Dark Lord Sauron, and the Fall of Númenor, and the fight against Sauron at Mount Doom. That arc of the major Second Age events felt like such an amazing, untold story.”

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power will premiere on Prime Video on Sept. 2, 2022.