Amazon, Warner Bros in Talks for LOTR Series Adaptation: Variety

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Re: Amazon, Warner Bros in Talks for LOTR Series Adaptation: Variety

Post by Eldorion on Fri Nov 10, 2017 9:33 pm

bungobaggins wrote:TL;DR?

It turns out that the sale of adaptation rights to TH and LOTR in 1969 did not exactly include TV rights but it included the option to purchase the TV rights at a later date for a tiny sum. So the notion that the Estate is out there demanding $250 million still makes no sense.

I have not seen the original contracts myself but Doug Kane is a well-established Tolkien scholar and figure in the fan community, and I trust him on the basis of his record and my own acquaintance with him over the years (you can see my posts in the thread I linked to).

Unlike Doug or our own Bluebottle I have no legal background, so I'm always happy to hear more informed perspectives on such matters. However, my own opinion is that the Estate is probably not involved, and the more likely scenario is that the original source(s) have confused the Estate with Middle-earth Enterprises and other media outlets have simply repeated the error.
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Re: Amazon, Warner Bros in Talks for LOTR Series Adaptation: Variety

Post by Bluebottle on Fri Nov 10, 2017 9:52 pm

The contract seems clear as regards the option for the TV rights. And a clear language reading, which is the best approach I think, makes clear that the option runs from five years after the last movie released under the contract, which would be the last hobbit movie, I presume.

"A picture shall be deemed to be the "last motion picture photoplay based upon the Work or THE TRILOGY" if principal photography has not commenced on a subsequent motion picture photoplay within three years from the first general release of the previous motion picture photoplay based upon the Work or THE TRILOGY."

Not easy to untangle this definition though Razz

The movies:

The Fellowship of the Ring 11 December 2001
The Two Towers 12 December 2002
The Return of the King 13 December 2003

Then we have to wait a good while for the Hobbit:

An Unexpected Journey (2012)
The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)

Question is whether The Return of the King would fulfill this definition, and that the TV rights would be with the Estate three years after its release.

Then we have the Hobbit movies, if we assume they recreate the option for the TV rights the option would pass right about now. So, the timing here is certainly interesting. Taking up the option at the last possible moment... does sound a whole lot like MEE.

In as far as the Estate shopping the TV rights around, that would then have to rely on either the fact that MEE are not interested in taking up the TV rights, or that this was somehow part of this mythical settlement that we are still in the dark on.

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Re: Amazon, Warner Bros in Talks for LOTR Series Adaptation: Variety

Post by Bluebottle on Sat Nov 11, 2017 1:13 am

Scratch that, I have stumbled in my reasoning Razz The option lasts for five years not three, so the option will last at least until 2019. The point is, after three years, a movie is considered the last movie released, and the five year option limit is applied from the time the movie saw general release. This limit obviously happened and passed after RotK. But most likely, there is a new term limit from the Hobbit movies. Immediately, this does not make much logical sense, you make a new movie you extend the term limit for tv rights. A bit unfair for the original right holder, as this extends option for tv rights as long as you keep making movies every once in a while pretty much indefinitely. But it was probably borne out of the fact that big money and big budget tv was not all that conceivable until recent times. Nor that such things could be licensed and brought about internationally, by for instance Tolkien's estate. Basically, I don't think the contract foresaw the blockbuster movie series phenomenon nor the blockbuster tv series phenomenon. Nor that all this would still be relevant in 2017. Perhaps it was normal in the 60s that you made a movie and if it was a success the logical next step to continue making money was to make a tv spinoff? Seems like something like that might have been behind the shaping of this part of the contract.

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Re: Amazon, Warner Bros in Talks for LOTR Series Adaptation: Variety

Post by Bluebottle on Sat Nov 11, 2017 1:33 am

In short, no, the estate is not likely to be involved, unless based on our deus ex machina semi-mythical settlement. Neutral

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Re: Amazon, Warner Bros in Talks for LOTR Series Adaptation: Variety

Post by Forest Shepherd on Sat Nov 11, 2017 1:38 am

Mrs Figg wrote:
'bit of a rag' is understatement of the century, I would hesitate to use it as lining for the cat litter tray.

Laughing

Wouldn't want one's cat to read the wrong sort of news!

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Re: Amazon, Warner Bros in Talks for LOTR Series Adaptation: Variety

Post by Eldorion on Sat Nov 11, 2017 3:00 am

Thanks for the commentary, Blue. Smile That seems plausible to me. My hunch regarding the settlement is that most news sources are only mentioning it because it was referred to by Variety and Deadline, and that those two probably mentioned it as a way of trying to connect the dots of the story rather than for any solid reason. I'm obviously not an insider myself and I could be mistaken, but I would find it surprising if the settlement somehow involved a transfer of rights to the Estate. I'm also not sure how involved the Saul Zaentz Company was in the settlement in the first place. According to The Hollywood Reporter SZC was named in the original lawsuit, but most if not all of the alleged wrongdoing was by WB and NL, the licensees, not the actual rights-holders.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/warner-bros-tolkien-estate-settle-80-million-hobbit-lawsuit-1018478
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Re: Amazon, Warner Bros in Talks for LOTR Series Adaptation: Variety

Post by Bluebottle on Sun Nov 12, 2017 12:28 am

I agree, most likely not. But hard to know with a settlement. The whole point is the party accused for infringement makes concessions to avoid a trial, which it seems perfectly arguable can be both monetary and/or contract based, for instance relinquishing options to rights they have no plans of using.

In the end though, you get back to the question, does this sound like the Tolkien estate?

Not really, I think they would have insisted on quite stringent terms of coherence to the original story to even entertain this idea.

A show that could redo the stories in a more truthful fashion, which is what we all seem to be hankering for? Perhaps. But this is all pure spectulation again.

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Re: Amazon, Warner Bros in Talks for LOTR Series Adaptation: Variety

Post by Mrs Figg on Sun Nov 12, 2017 4:30 pm

I would much rather they make a new decent version of the Hobbit, LOTR was already perfect. Cool

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Re: Amazon, Warner Bros in Talks for LOTR Series Adaptation: Variety

Post by azriel on Sun Nov 12, 2017 5:09 pm

I enjoyed LOTR's soooo much better than I will ever like The Hobbshit, it wasn't spot on with quite a few things but, by jingo it was light years better than fuckwit Hobbshit ! I still cant accept how bad The Gobshit was ! I did mention how I felt in a different thread........

[quote="azriel"]I find these 'machines' fabulous. I love them. The work & skill in making them & operating them Smile  The Dragon is pretty dam scary, if I were an 8yr old child I'm sure Id shit a brick Smile Kids always come back for more tho & that's what keeps Faery Tales alive. That's what Peejers didn't pick up on in making The Hobbshit. He didn't see it from a childs view. He didn't get the feeling a lonely child, with no brothers or sisters, felt when alone in bed at night, lamp or torch on, snuggled under blankets & reading, reading yourself away into a "Never find land" that grown ups cant go. Only kids can, only kids feel, only kids know.

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Re: Amazon, Warner Bros in Talks for LOTR Series Adaptation: Variety

Post by malickfan on Sun Nov 12, 2017 6:06 pm

Five years ago I'd have been much more excited than I am now (cautious intrigue is the best I can muster up at this point in time), The Hobbit films rather burned me out on Tolkien adaptations, and I've grown into even more of a cynical git the older I get.

I've grown less and less fond of the PJ LOTR films over time, so I thought I would have welcomed this news with more enthusiasm than I have...but it's just hard to believe this is motivated by the desire to do a more faithful and/or different take on the novel, rather than just cashing in before the rights lapse and GOF is still popular, I'm not even sure if the pacing/tone of the book would translate to that of modern TV anyway...

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Re: Amazon, Warner Bros in Talks for LOTR Series Adaptation: Variety

Post by halfwise on Sun Nov 12, 2017 6:18 pm

The thought of watching Lord of the Rings with commercial breaks does kind of stick in the craw, doesn't it?

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Re: Amazon, Warner Bros in Talks for LOTR Series Adaptation: Variety

Post by Forest Shepherd on Sun Nov 12, 2017 6:27 pm

malickfan wrote:I'm not even sure if the pacing/tone of the book would translate to that of modern TV anyway...
It is a difficult thing to imagine.

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Re: Amazon, Warner Bros in Talks for LOTR Series Adaptation: Variety

Post by malickfan on Sun Nov 12, 2017 6:29 pm

halfwise wrote:The thought of watching Lord of the Rings with commercial breaks does kind of stick in the craw, doesn't it?

As does the thought of making an adaptation so commercial and pandering to the masses that it attracts the attention of these companies for adverts, I have little desire to see LOTR bulked out with sex scenes, or decapitations every five minutes...

I'm also wondering how they would work in a climax to each episode, if they went strictly by the books pacing/chronology the first few episodes would just involve alot of walking, not very visually stimulating.

Maybe Aragorn could fall off several cliffs this time or something...


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Re: Amazon, Warner Bros in Talks for LOTR Series Adaptation: Variety

Post by malickfan on Sun Nov 12, 2017 6:31 pm

The one good thing I can see from this is that the production may shoot outside New Zealand with a new Art Crew, Weta are great but I'd love to bring Tolkien back to the UK, the scenery of New Zealand is stunning but not always that accurate to the book and we have lots of stunning remote vistas on our own damp islands...

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Re: Amazon, Warner Bros in Talks for LOTR Series Adaptation: Variety

Post by Bluebottle on Sun Nov 12, 2017 7:02 pm

Probably something like The Children of Hurin, with some of the epic scale of the Silmarillion, would do better as a tv venture. Story wise, the extended story of the men who took the side of the elves against Morgoth probably suits better the treatment of an epic series a la GOTs, and leaves more wiggle room for the show runners to shape a good story. LotRs is not really all that episodic, even the three book split was made for publishing reasons, and it is really one long story.

In the end though, this all comes down to doing it well or not. If someone comes along and takes up the baton for this, and does a good job out of it, we will probably all enjoy it for what it is. If its just another run of the mill GoT-ish fantasy adaptation, it will be all the worse for the subject matter being something special. Look at the Shannara thing, it is dificult to say much good about it, but the subject matter was at best meh-ish from the get go.

Note, I don't think PJ dd a good job out of it. I think he made good epic blockbuster movies, story wise and depth wise, he failed in many respects however.

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Re: Amazon, Warner Bros in Talks for LOTR Series Adaptation: Variety

Post by Lancebloke on Sun Nov 12, 2017 7:11 pm

The Silmarillion would be good to adapt as there are lot of different stories in there. With the appendices and other works they could probabky get a series or 3 out of the the different ages of Arda.
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Re: Amazon, Warner Bros in Talks for LOTR Series Adaptation: Variety

Post by malickfan on Sun Nov 12, 2017 7:18 pm

One of my main issues with a Silmarillion adaptation is that it would almost entirely the work of the screenwriters, the book reads more like a bare bones historical account than a novel and a TV series would have to invent so much dialogue, character arcs, cliffhangers that it wouldn't resemble the book all that much, there isn't even a canonical version of the book, the various drafts published in the HOME and UFT often differs quite a lot.

I think the two stories I'd be most intrigued to see adapted would be The Children Of Hurin combined with The Wanderings Of Hurin as a mini series, and Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner's Wife both large scale and complete (or fleshed out in the latter's case) stories that have a epic backdrop and arc but largely stand apart from the complicated backstory of the 1st/2nd ages and explore very different parts of Middle Earth.

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Re: Amazon, Warner Bros in Talks for LOTR Series Adaptation: Variety

Post by halfwise on Sun Nov 12, 2017 7:32 pm

Mariner's Wife would be annoying unless you have shots of all the stuff happening off-island, which is held in the background in the book. Meant to show how frustrated she would get, but would mainly end up frustrating the watchers, I think.

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Re: Amazon, Warner Bros in Talks for LOTR Series Adaptation: Variety

Post by Bluebottle on Sun Nov 12, 2017 7:37 pm

Lancebloke wrote:The Silmarillion would be good to adapt as there are lot of different stories in there. With the appendices and other works they could probabky get a series or 3 out of the the different ages of Arda.

Not really what tv does well, I would say. TV does a good job of fixing a setting and then relaying an extended story in a way movies can not. But they are not served any better than movies than jumping around from story to story, etc, as you could make a movie in an extended series from different settings and then devote a whole movie budget for each one, while on the other hand a TV series would have to reinvent itself completely from series to series. I think storytelling in a subject matter where you cannot go into great depth because of time restraints (even in multi-series television) are better suited to go into the depth it can on one string of a story, which was why I suggested Children of Hurin. What tv does well is that it lets you live with one story and one set of characters for a long time. If everything is here now, gone tomorrow, then you miss out on this largely. You could easily make several series following the men who fought with the elves against Morgoth, but to attempt to cary the breath and scope of the Silmarillion would be impossible, I'd think :/


Last edited by Bluebottle on Sun Nov 12, 2017 7:41 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Amazon, Warner Bros in Talks for LOTR Series Adaptation: Variety

Post by Bluebottle on Sun Nov 12, 2017 7:39 pm

malickfan wrote:One of my main issues with a Silmarillion adaptation is that it would almost entirely the work of the screenwriters, the book reads more like a bare bones historical account than a novel and a TV series would have to invent so much dialogue, character arcs, cliffhangers that it wouldn't resemble the book all that much, there isn't even a canonical version of the book, the various drafts published in the HOME and UFT often differs quite a lot.

I think the two stories I'd be most intrigued to see adapted would be The Children Of Hurin combined with The Wanderings Of Hurin as a mini series, and Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner's Wife both large scale and complete (or fleshed out in the latter's case) stories that have a epic backdrop and arc but largely stand apart from the complicated backstory of the 1st/2nd ages and explore very different parts of Middle Earth.

I think this exactly, and why not add Huor and Tuor, and so on, and maybe even Earandil. You cover a big part of the story of the Silmarillion, but by following one aspect of the story, that of mankind in Beleriand. And with that scope of subject matter it doesn't have to be a mini series at all. It can be an epic series on the scope and scale of GoTs. Shrugging

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Re: Amazon, Warner Bros in Talks for LOTR Series Adaptation: Variety

Post by malickfan on Sun Nov 12, 2017 7:48 pm

I'd love to see Tolkien's short stories adapted one day, Farmer Giles Of Ham, Mr Bliss and The Father Christmas Letters would make great animated TV specials.

Moot point, as I really really doubt the Tolkien Estate will change their viewpoint anytime soon.

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Re: Amazon, Warner Bros in Talks for LOTR Series Adaptation: Variety

Post by Eldorion on Sun Nov 12, 2017 9:10 pm

Aldarion and Erendis is low-key one of Tolkien's best stories but it's so different from his famous work in terms of style and genre that I don't see it being a priority for adaption even once the rights to UT become available.

Bluebottle wrote:I think this exactly, and why not add Huor and Tuor, and so on, and maybe even Earandil. You cover a big part of the story of the Silmarillion, but by following one aspect of the story, that of mankind in Beleriand. And with that scope of subject matter it doesn't have to be a mini series at all. It can be an epic series on the scope and scale of GoTs. Shrugging

I would argue that the bolded is actually the main aspect of "The Silmarillion", for reasons I've outlined previously (see below link). I agree that I trying to adapt "The Silmarillion" (or even The Silmarillion) as a TV series doesn't make much more sense than trying to adapt it as a single film or film trilogy. I think the better approach would be something along the lines of (don't hate me) the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I know that "cinematic universe" is sort of a dirty phrase and I get annoyed by the attempts at turning every IP into one, but in this case I think it would fit. There are a lot of overlapping, interconnected stories in the later part of "The Silmarillion" (after the breaking of the Siege of Angband), but for the most part they each have their own protagonists and I think would benefit from having enough room to stand on their own. But there's plenty of crossover potential and even major "team-up" movies (a la The Avengers) during the major battles against Morgoth (especially the Nirnaeth, though it'd be much more of a downer than any of Marvel's films). But Malickfan is correct that any attempt at adapting "The Silmarillion" would involve a lot of basically fanfiction writing, especially if trying to adapt more than just a single one of the Great Tales.

http://www.hobbitmovieforum.com/t1284p50-works-of-tolkien-scholarship#199675
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Re: Amazon, Warner Bros in Talks for LOTR Series Adaptation: Variety

Post by azriel on Sun Nov 12, 2017 9:12 pm

The Moomins were animated. They started off as a book. The 3 books you noted, Malick, would work nicely as animation Very Happy

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Re: Amazon, Warner Bros in Talks for LOTR Series Adaptation: Variety

Post by azriel on Sun Nov 12, 2017 9:12 pm

You guys go into it all serious & deep. Me ? I'm just light & fluffy Smile

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Re: Amazon, Warner Bros in Talks for LOTR Series Adaptation: Variety

Post by Eldorion on Sun Nov 12, 2017 9:36 pm

azriel wrote:You guys go into it all serious & deep. Me ? I'm just light & fluffy Smile

I'm a firm believer in the idea that there's no "right" way to be a fan, but I mean, "Lorists" and independent fan-scholars have been a significant part of Tolkien fandom for a long time. Razz And I wouldn't have spent roughly a decade studying the subject if I didn't find it fun and stimulating (even though I'm semi-retired now). Smile
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