Amazon expands service to Tolkien’s Middle Earth
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Amazon expands service to Tolkien’s Middle Earth

This week, Amazon dropped a bombshell: it has acquired the global TV rights to ‘Lord of the Rings’ – J. R. R. Tolkien’s iconic fantasy novel in three parts. Lord of the Rings is the third best-selling book (because, according to Tolkien, it was one book – it just came in three parts) in the world, having shifted over 150 million copies since its publication in 1954. It was adapted into a cinematic trilogy in the early 2000s, which grossed almost $6 billion at the worldwide box office. Wizards, elves, and hobbits might not be everyone’s cup of tea… but they’re seriously big money.

Amazon’s share price is up 50% so far this year

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Amazon plans to create ‘new story lines’ that run alongside the original tale, and will explore narratives that precede the book’s first volume, The Fellowship of the Ring. This won’t be a creative stretch, as Tolkien meticulously detailed the history of his world in companion tomes The Silmarillion and The History of Middle Earth (a twelve-volume series published posthumously). The Lord of the Rings also has a prequel, of course, in Tolkien’s first fantasy novel, The Hobbit. So, Amazon’s team will have plenty of places to take their lead from.

The new series will be available to Prime members as part of their package, and could fill an interesting hole in Amazon’s streaming video on demand service. Amazon has produced some popular, and incredibly high quality, original content (Preacher, American Gods), but it hasn’t found its own blockbuster series yet – nothing the company has done ranks alongside HBO’s Game of Thrones, or AMC’s Walking Dead. Tolkien’s flight of fantasy into the world of dragons, wizards, and dark lords might just be the creative property that lets the company challenge these top-draw shows.

Disclosure

Dominion holds Amazon in its Global Trends Ecommerce Fund.


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