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

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Post by halfwise on Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:57 pm

Tolkien was no Francophile.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon Jul 29, 2019 1:08 pm

{{{ Tolkien did have a rather odd disdain in many ways for his nearest neighbours. The French is slightly understandable because he saw the Norman invasion of 1066 as destroying the existing Anglo-Saxon society that existed along with its myths and beliefs.
We actually know now this is not entirely true, and that it was much more an assimilation of ideas going both ways than a wiping out or purging of anything.
He is equally dismissive of Scottish and Irish mythology and Celtic legends, even though many of the themes, especially those which crept into the early Irish Church, can be discerned in Tolkien. His vocal dismissal of Celtic mythology has always puzzled me. Especially given the richness of the language used. And one wonders if its not part of a dismissive English academic attitude of the time to anything Irish or Scottish. }}

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Post by halfwise on Mon Jul 29, 2019 1:18 pm

Yes, given that he used the term "faerie" you'd think he'd be into celtic mythology. But he did like the Welsh language. I think he saw the British mind-set as anglo-saxon uninfluenced by Celtic strands. Which may in fact be true - british writing seems to delve into Celtic culture as a sort of alien magic.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon Jul 29, 2019 1:36 pm

{{ I think the Victorians might take a lot of the blame for Tolkiens later atitude. Queen Victoria fell in love with Scotland, so as the nobs follow the Queens lead, and the middle class follow the nobs lead England temporarily went Scotland mad. Not the real Scotland, it was to complicated and messy and the English were often not the good guys, but a sort of romanticised version of Scotland and its history- think Sir Walter Scott or any time you've ever seen one of those big painting of some misty purple Scottish hills with a proud stag in the foreground- and thats all that era.
At the same time the Victorians had a fun fascination for all things occult and magical.
Combine the two and you got this weird romanticised, safe version of Scottish mythology - that turned ideas like the shining Ones with their faerie blood (who are to all intents and purposes Tolkien elves, they have an internal glow, they were superior craftsmen and had superior knowledge in building, arts, science and they shaped and worked the land in harmony with it and had long lifespans, being part faerie) and turned them into the diminutive winged fairy folk of Victorian children's books. A version of elves and faeries which Tolkien despised.

Oddly one of Tolkiens main themes, he mentions it in explicitly in On Faery stories, and its prevalent throughout his Middle Earth works, is the idea central to many Celtic tales of the dangers of the mortal and immortal worlds crossing, particular in matters of love and breeding.
I would call that a very central Celtic idea. But also a very central Tolkien one too. }}

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Post by halfwise on Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:12 pm

A little bit of new info here.

https://bgr.com/2019/07/31/amazon-the-lord-of-the-rings-season-1-release-date-plot-and-episodes/

https://www.tolkiengesellschaft.de/30918/exklusive-interview-with-tom-shippey-concerning-lotronprime/

Tom Shippey says the first and third ages are off limits, and the Tolkien foundation does have veto power.

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Post by chris63 on Fri Aug 02, 2019 5:01 am


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Post by halfwise on Fri Aug 02, 2019 1:23 pm

Ah, to me the new thing here is that Amazon can use NewLine's props/sets made for the LotR movies. I'm perfectly fine with that, it's where the PJ films excelled.

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Post by Forest Shepherd on Sat Aug 03, 2019 6:06 am

One of the places where they excelled, yes.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sat Aug 03, 2019 10:07 am

{{ These vids are just confusing me further!! Mad Mad What is it they have the rights to? This guy goes on about the Tolkien estate having final say, how it cant contradict anything Tolkien wrote etc, then later he says they are only allowed to reference mentions of the 1st and 3rd age - why? Do they only have rights to events in the second age? scratch And then he says if its not in LoTR's the book or the appendices then they probably can't touch it - implying they only have the same rights PJ did. But how can you do this stuff and stay true to Tolkien if you dont have rights to the Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales!! That would only leave a few paragraphs and the Tale of Years to work from which would be stupid.}}

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Post by halfwise on Sat Aug 03, 2019 11:31 am

I'm not sure how this confinement to the Second Age works either since they are not being limited to a specific property. But I suppose contracts can be drawn up however they wish. I can understand Unfinished Tales being shied away from because it may force picking a version of Galadriel and Celeborn, but then you also lose Aldarion and Erendis, which is the only fully fleshed out glimpse of Numenor we see. Pretty limiting.

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Post by Eldy on Sun Aug 04, 2019 4:09 am

I've been trying to stay out of this subforum, but I have a theory about the rights situation that I feel like sharing (just copying and pasting a post from another forum) since this latest report is as much a point of confusion here as everywhere else.

Eldy wrote:This Tom Shippey interview is ... huh.

The first season being twenty episodes strains credulity, in my opinion. Even if we assume that Bezos has given them a blank check, the amount of time it takes to film and do post-production on even 10 episodes of an effects-heavy show like this--as Game of Thrones did for most of its run, before switching to shorter seasons--is insane. Moreover, none of Amazon's original drama or comedy series have ever had a season of more than 12 episodes. I find it hard to believe that their LOTR prequel will clock in at nearly double that.

While Shippey is one of the world's leading Tolkien scholars, I'm not sure how well-placed he is as a source of information about this very secretive production. One of the strangest parts of this interview was when he just casually dropped that someone not mentioned publicly by Amazon was "supposed to be the overall director ... but maybe something has changed again." That's a weird bit of laundry to be airing in public, and it suggests that whatever the specifics of his advisory role here, he's probably not the most closely-positioned insider to be (unintentionally?) leaking information that hasn't been officially confirmed yet.

One area where I would assume Shippey is more involved is the source material, yet his comments on the rights situation are the most eyebrow-raising part of the whole interview, as others have commented on. To quote that comment in full:

Amazon has a relatively free hand when it comes to adding something, since, as I said, very few details are known about this time span. The Tolkien Estate will insist that the main shape of the Second Age is not altered. Sauron invades Eriador, is forced back by a Númenorean expedition, is returns to Númenor. There he corrupts the Númenoreans and seduces them to break the ban of the Valar. All this, the course of history, must remain the same. But you can add new characters and ask a lot of questions, like: What has Sauron done in the meantime? Where was he after Morgoth was defeated? Theoretically, Amazon can answer these questions by inventing the answers, since Tolkien did not describe it. But it must not contradict anything which Tolkien did say. That’s what Amazon has to watch out for. It must be canonical, it is impossible to change the boundaries which Tolkien has created, it is necessary to remain “tolkienian”.

Since this project was first rumored, I have maintained that it's not possible to make a satisfying First or Second Age adaptation with only the information found in The Lord of the Rings and its Appendices. Such information is exceedingly scant--just imagine a series about the forging of the Great Rings which can't use the name Annatar, or an onscreen depiction of Ar-Pharazôn and Tar-Míriel which can't mention that Pharazôn forced Míriel to marry him when he seized the throne. You could make those stories, but I don't think it would leave anyone happy (creators or fans) to have to omit and replace important details of the story for legal reasons. However, after rereading Shippey's comments I'm not sure he's claiming this is the case, since he was specifically asked a question about First and Third Age material, not about whether Amazon can draw on Second Age material found only in Tolkien's posthumously-published works.

Trying to make sense of this will require a bit of wild speculation that others should take with a hefty serving of salt, but I think this can be squared with other pieces of evidence that have slipped out over the past couple years. When this project was first announced in November 2017, we heard that Amazon purchased the rights to The Lord of the Rings but not The Silmarillion.  Amazon's head of scripted series at the time, Sharon Tal Yguado, also made a couple tweets hinting that the series would focus on Aragorn. Fast forward to 2019: Ms. Yguado no longer works for Amazon Studios, and we found out that the series would actually be set in the Second Age. It's hard to say given the absurd level of secrecy around this project, but there's a case to be made that this was not Amazon's original idea. TheOneRing.net has claimed as much, and while that might be a bit of ass-covering since they publicly claimed in 2018 that Young Aragorn was confirmed, it meshes with reports (which I dismissed at the time) that Amazon was taking pitches from writers in 2018 for a wide range of concepts covering different periods in Middle-earth's history, seemingly without a preexisting master plan in place.

In any event, it seems likely that the original reporting on the deal by Variety in 2017 was mistaken, or else Amazon and the Tolkien Estate signed a second agreement granting greater access to Second Age material. One of the more plausible hypotheses about this is that Amazon purchased the rights to certain concepts, or "modules" of material spanning different volumes, rather than the rights to the entirety of The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, and/or The History of Middle-earth. While risking confirmation bias, I would posit that this helps explain Shippey's comment: Amazon (possibly) purchased the rights to posthumously-published material about the Second Age only, excluding First and Third Age material in TS, UT, and HoMe ... but that anything mentioned in The Lord of the Rings or its Appendices is already covered by the original deal from November 2017, and can therefore also be used.

I'm just some gal who's been trying to figure out what the fuck is going on with the rights situation each time we get updates, though, and I was as blindsided by e.g. the Estate's about-face on adaptations as everyone else, so take this post for what it is(n't) worth. Wink

I'll add that the promotional maps Amazon released earlier this year all but confirm that they have the rights to at least part of Unfinished Tales, since the map of Númenor was only published in that volume, not The Silmarillion. And if they have access to Númenor material from UT, I have a hard time imagining a scenario in which they don't also have access to the Akallabêth, even though that's found in a different volume.
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Post by halfwise on Sun Aug 04, 2019 12:15 pm

So why have you been avoiding this subforum?  Off consorting with other forums Suspect - a girl could make us jealous.  

As usual you have brought clarity by putting some pieces together which are obvious in retrospect:  If they originally had rights to the Silmarillion they wouldn't have been mucking around with young Aragorn.  If they didn't get rights to at least parts of it and unfinished tales, they couldn't do much with the Second Age.  The Tolkien estate would be loth to sell complete rights to both these works, hence the limit to the Second Age.  

Not clear why the Third Age would be off limits, I hazard that would be some separate deal with New Line rather than the Tolkien estate.  New Line would say "you can have our props so long as you don't cross over into our established territory".  This would allow Amazon to end with the triumphant defeat of Sauron.

It's too bad because there is so much to be done with the Third Age.  But it doesn't have the same arc as the Second Age; more of a long deterioration of Gondor.  I can see this making for a bit of a downer of a series.

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Post by Forest Shepherd on Sun Aug 04, 2019 4:41 pm

*cough* Uh, so which forum is this that you're posting in now? I mean just to make sure I don't run into it accidentally. There's so many forums out there! Sofa

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Post by Amarië on Sun Aug 04, 2019 9:33 pm

Suspect

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Post by Eldy on Sun Aug 04, 2019 10:14 pm

halfwise wrote:So why have you been avoiding this subforum?  Off consorting with other forums Suspect - a girl could make us jealous.

'Cause I care about you guys, and thus don't really care to get involved in political fights on here over this dumb series. Razz

halfwise wrote:Not clear why the Third Age would be off limits, I hazard that would be some separate deal with New Line rather than the Tolkien estate.  New Line would say "you can have our props so long as you don't cross over into our established territory".  This would allow Amazon to end with the triumphant defeat of Sauron.

I think you're right that a Third Age series has less potential, which is one of the reason I was firmly of the opinion that Young Aragorn was the most likely scenario back when the only reports we had said The Silmarillion was not on the table. I could maybe see Amazon or some other studio trying to make a historical Third Age series in the future, so my guess (based on an extensive consultation with my ass) is that the Estate doesn't want to close off possibilities by licensing out more than it has to at this point, but who knows.

New Line/Warner Bros is reportedly involved with this project in some capacity, but AFAIK there hasn't been any confirmation whether or not the Amazon series will incorporate material from the PJ films. PJ himself has made a few comments when asked but stayed pretty vague. With John Howe on board, though, I imagine that the visual style of the series will be fairly familiar. Whether they'd copy the design of the Barad-dûr or the arms and armor designs from the FOTR prologue is anyone's guess. That would presumably require New Line's permission, which Amazon most likely has, since material created for the films can and has been licensed out separately from the books (eg, the rights to make video games based on the books and games based on the movies used to be held by different companies).

Forest Shepherd wrote:*cough* Uh, so which forum is this that you're posting in now? I mean just to make sure I don't run into it accidentally. There's so many forums out there! Sofa

cyclops

The post quoted above was written for SpaceBattles, where I'm only sporadically active, but based on posts I originally made on ResetEra, where I've been part of the Tolkien sub-community for years. The forum I'm most active on and where I'm currently on staff is Sufficient Velocity, but unfortunately it doesn't have a lot of Tolkien discussion. I go by Eldy on all of them.
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Post by halfwise on Mon Aug 05, 2019 12:21 pm

Eldy wrote:
halfwise wrote:So why have you been avoiding this subforum?  Off consorting with other forums Suspect - a girl could make us jealous.

'Cause I care about you guys, and thus don't really care to get involved in political fights on here over this dumb series. Razz


Very smooth.

Almost worked, except that I don't see that we care about this series enough yet to get into any fights over it. And there hasn't been any mention of Moffat, or catty commentators, or even grass(?). But then you'll come back and say you want to avoid the fights to come, because you care about us that much and we'll be so charmed we'll have to admit we should never have doubted you. :hug:

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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon Aug 05, 2019 2:17 pm

{{ Sounds like an excuse to be off flirting with other forums to me! Suspect Bet they are all tax havens too Nod }}

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Post by Forest Shepherd on Tue Aug 06, 2019 2:05 am

What. Are they Irish forums?

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Post by halfwise on Tue Aug 06, 2019 2:26 am

Laughing

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Post by Bluebottle on Wed Aug 07, 2019 11:00 pm

Eldy wrote:
Forest Shepherd wrote:*cough* Uh, so which forum is this that you're posting in now? I mean just to make sure I don't run into it accidentally. There's so many forums out there! Sofa

cyclops

The post quoted above was written for SpaceBattles, where I'm only sporadically active, but based on posts I originally made on ResetEra, where I've been part of the Tolkien sub-community for years. The forum I'm most active on and where I'm currently on staff is Sufficient Velocity, but unfortunately it doesn't have a lot of Tolkien discussion. I go by Eldy on all of them.

The administrative tribunal stuff is a hoot. Razz

Do they also do democratic rule making, I wonder? They might be one up on Twitter, Facebook et.al.

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Post by Eldy on Thu Aug 08, 2019 4:18 am

halfwise wrote:Very smooth.  

Almost worked, except that I don't see that we care about this series enough yet to get into any fights over it.  And there hasn't been any mention of Moffat, or catty commentators, or even grass(?).  But then you'll come back and say you want to avoid the fights to come, because you care about us that much and we'll be so charmed we'll have to admit we should never have doubted you. :hug:

You're very kind. :hug:

My standards for what counts as a fight are probably lower than most people's, but my desire to avoid future arguments about the series--and related topics, which are more heated--is not based on hypotheticals. It's also part of the reason I'm trying to keep my distance from TORn (where, unlike Forumshire, I'm not often tempted to pop in just to say hi; I like and am acquainted with a fair number of TORnsibs but it ain't the same as here).

Bluebottle wrote:The administrative tribunal stuff is a hoot. Razz

Do they also do democratic rule making, I wonder? They might be one up on Twitter, Facebook et.al.

Two of the three owners of the site are lawyers, and it shows through in places. Razz The appeals system is sometimes criticized as "lawyer roleplaying", but my experience over the years--as an admin here, as a mod on the Plaza, and as a regular member on many different sites--has driven home the risks of forum governance being centered primarily on personalities, so I admire the efforts to build an actual system for it. ('Course I'm sorta biased now, but it intrigued me even when first lurking.) The tribunal is strictly an advisory body, though, so it does not set policy. Early on, it ruled that the site staff could not tell them how to interpret the rules, but its interpretations are only suggestions.
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Post by Amarië on Thu Aug 08, 2019 8:11 am

I could pretend to be jealous or mad, but that is an excellent place for a rebelious Shireling to go.

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Post by Bluebottle on Fri Aug 09, 2019 6:59 pm

Eldy wrote:
Bluebottle wrote:The administrative tribunal stuff is a hoot. Razz

Do they also do democratic rule making, I wonder? They might be one up on Twitter, Facebook et.al.

Two of the three owners of the site are lawyers, and it shows through in places. Razz The appeals system is sometimes criticized as "lawyer roleplaying", but my experience over the years--as an admin here, as a mod on the Plaza, and as a regular member on many different sites--has driven home the risks of forum governance being centered primarily on personalities, so I admire the efforts to build an actual system for it. ('Course I'm sorta biased now, but it intrigued me even when first lurking.) The tribunal is strictly an advisory body, though, so it does not set policy. Early on, it ruled that the site staff could not tell them how to interpret the rules, but its interpretations are only suggestions.

I’ve been reading a bit on content moderation recently, (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=DPznSfJTXjE) and it is interesting to see it play out at forum-level. Although, this place has given me a healthy skepticism of forum moderating, for good and bad. It often seems to come with a redundancy fearing push to act. If you are moderating, then you moderate, perhaps more often than is necessary. But I’ll admit the question is more complex.

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Post by Eldy on Sat Aug 10, 2019 12:06 am

It's an interesting question, yeah. My moderation style on the LOTR Plaza was massively different from here, as I was not only tasked with normal (on most forums) mod functions like preventing people from going off topic (Surprised), but also trying to maintain a minimum standard of debate in keeping with the overall culture of discussion on that site. Whereas on Forumshire, the community set most of its own priorities and I made few attempts to steer the direction of specific threads.

Our way of doing things doesn't necessarily scale to a site that's big enough for people to not all know each other, though I think most forums could probably get by with less strict moderation than they have. But to be honest, my opinions on forum moderation are a lot less "libertarian" that they used to be, which is probably down to a mix of being more active on larger sites and because of larger trends in the political alignments of geek culture. And the decision not to mod certain behaviors is as much an active choice as the decision to do something, since both tend to have an impact on how comfortable various groups of people feel on your platform.

My views on content moderation for the Internet at large are not precisely the same, since forums are effectively private membership organizations with a great deal of leeway to set their own standards. Massive social media platforms fill a very different role and, I think, should be judged by a different standard.
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Post by Eldy on Sun Aug 18, 2019 10:42 pm

From an interview John Howe gave with a Narnia fan site:

https://narniafans.com/2019/08/interview-with-narnia-conceptual-designer-john-howe/

Are you contributing to the Narnia TV show in the works for Netflix or the LOTR series for Amazon

I am contributing to the Amazon project. I have been working on it for a while and we will see how it continues, but I really can’t tell you very much about it.

Designing second age is going to be a challenge. The show runners are determined to remain faithful to the existing trilogies and the spirit of the books. It is a huge project and a very different project from a feature film.

Emphasis on "remain[ing] faithful to the existing trilogies". Presumably this is strictly about visual design, both since that Howe's forte and since we've previously heard that the Estate has veto power, rather than holding to lore changes made for the movies. We'd heard that the series would use designs from the movies before but I can't recall if any of those reports came from anyone actually working on the new project.

Bonus: a shout-out from Howe to Tolkien fan-scholars! Very Happy

It is amazing the scholarship that the fans are actually involved in. They are so passionate. I think it probably comes from the fact that you can with Tolkien be passionate about it because his sources are serious sources. You can become an expert on Narnia or Game of Thrones but not in the same way it is not quite the same. You look at the number of books that have been written on LOTR there are hundreds and hundreds of books. Far more than what has been written on Narnia.
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