Hesitantly bouncing off of my chair.
Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy made an incredible influence on me. My dad, normally avoidant of fantasy epics, took my brother and myself to midnight screenings of each film and it meant the world to both of us. I had read the books and just could not believe I was not only seeing them on the big screen, but they were good, really good. Once the DVDs came out I was introduced to the most thorough behind-the-scenes work of any film I had ever seen, and there are still days during the weekend where I'll just have them on in the background to get me excited for a project.
We first learned that Amazon had beaten Netflix to the rights (for a measly $250 million), but now it's come to light that they are contractually obligated to a five season commitment providing they begin production within two years.
Details about the series are hazy at best, but we do know they will act as a prequel to the events of The Lord of the Rings, and will be allowed to utilize 'materials' from Peter Jackson's films. What 'materials' means remains left to be seen; they can be referring to props, wardrobes, sets, characters, or even footage. No word yet on any returning characters or actors, which I doubt we'll see.
Though I'm excited for this beyond words, it is all still a little baffling. Thankfully Amazon's show will not be a simple recreation of Jackson's trilogy nor his later Hobbit films, but the deal does not include the rights to The Silmarillion, which means the window of time which this will cover seems like the end of The Hobbit to the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring. Still, Tolkien crafted a massive world full of potential for rich stories and characters, it seems a pretty solid possibility we'll be seeing a bevy of original characters with the occasionally familiar face. And yes, of course, Peter Jackson is in talks to have some sort of role behind the scenes.
SO WHAT AM I WORRIED ABOUT?
Listen, I love this series. I love the world that Tolkien created and Jackson realized for the big screen. But I'm hesitant after The Hobbit Trilogy (side note: if anyone hasn't seen the first and second part of Lindsay Ellis' Hobbit autopsy essay on the trilogy, I highly recommend it for a little vindication). Fellowship had 3 years of development before the cameras started rolling, and you see it in every frame, in every stitch of clothing, in every line. No, the original trilogy was not perfect, but damnit if it wasn't close.
I will never fault a studio for wanting to make money off of a franchise; it's part of the business and it keeps people employed and happy to do what they love, but boy oh boy do I not want another rushed cash grab like The Hobbit Trilogy. The idea of a five season commitment with a two year deadline is worrisome in that they may spend too much time looking at the creeping deadline and not as much time looking at the story and characters (story and characters which are potentially going to be brand new with no literary basis), but maybe the poor reception of the Hobbit will help light a fire under their butts, the same fire the original filmmakers lit that said "this has to be good and everyone's counting on us."