Shortly after it was revealed that Warner Bros. and Amazon were in talks to develop a TV series based on Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy (which is itself based on J. R. R. Tolkien’s seminal novels), Amazon confirmed that a multi-season deal had been reached and that a series set in Middle-Earth, prior to the events of Lord of the Rings, was headed to the small screen. Naturally, this news instantly sparked excitement in fans of the franchise, but given the lukewarm reception of the Hobbit prequel trilogy, skepticism quickly followed.
Although we here at Epicstream certainly have high hopes, we’re not without concern, either. That being said, here are 5 things that would ruin Amazon’s Lord of the Rings trilogy:
Casting Generic Actors
Who did we get in the LOTR and Hobbit trilogies? Well, there’s Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Sean Astin, Orlando Bloom, Sean Bean, Cate Blancett, and Martin Freeman, just to name a few. With that in mind, if Amazon’s LOTR series hopes bring the same epic feel of the films to the small screen, they’re going to need some big-name actors to lend some of their star power.
Obviously, it’d be foolish to expect that blockbuster-film-caliber actors would want to lock themselves into a multi-season commitment on an Amazon series. Still, let’s not forget that Sean Astin, who played Samwise Gamgee, had a pretty significant role in Season 2 of Netflix’s hit series Stranger Things.
Could casting a bunch of unknowns pay off? Maybe. Would it feel like LOTR, though? Probably not.Advertisement
Lack Of Diversity
In the similar vein as the previous entry, Amazon has an incredible opportunity when it comes to casting actors for the LOTR series. This time, though, it’s not as much about recognizable faces as it is about more diverse faces, at least in terms of the LOTR franchise.
The LOTR films, for all their merits, boast casts that consist primarily of white males, with only a few female characters, and virtually no racial or ethnic diversity to be found (no, orcs do NOT count). Of course, this is largely because Middle-Earth was created by Tolkien, an English writer, in the early 1900s, but a TV adaptation needn’t adhere to such outdated notions.
Diversity doesn’t need to feel forced, either (i.e. diversity for diversity’s sake). With so many talented actors and actresses in Hollywood, each with unique backgrounds, true diversity SHOULD happen naturally, without setting a “quota.” If it doesn’t, that just says something about the showrunners’ subconscious.
And speaking of showrunners…
Hiring Writers/Showrunners Who Aren’t Familiar With Tolkien’s Work
At this point in time, no names are attached to Amazon’s LOTR series, which means one of two things. Amazon will either a.) Bring in someone to help make the next Game of Thrones or b.) Bring in someone who eats, sleep, and breathes Tolkien's legendarium. For those of us who’re fans of the greater LOTR franchise, let’s hope it’s the latter.
Simply put, if you haven’t read The Silmarillion (or even know what it is), you shouldn’t be writing, producing, or directing this series. Otherwise, it will be remembered as nothing more than Amazon’s attempt to make its very own Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, The Handmaid’s Tale, etc.
Marketing The Series To A Younger Audience
Featuring dark themes, fantasy violence, and oftentimes heavy subject matter, the LOTR films were certainly on the higher end of the PG-13 spectrum. That being said, with Amazon’s lack of restrictions compared to cable or network TV and without the financial risks of an R-rated film, one would imagine the showrunners will gear the series towards a more adult audience. But what if they go in the opposite direction?
Admittedly, this seems highly unlikely since it’s no secret that Amazon is looking for an answer to HBO’s Game of Thrones. Still, one surefire way to throw viewers for an unwelcome loop would be to tailor the LOTR series to a younger audience with a lighter tone and cringe-worthy market-based scripting.
Making It A Carbon Copy Of ‘Game Of Thrones’
We’ve mentioned HBO’s hit series Game of Thrones numerous times because with the George R. R. Martin-inspired fantasy drama approaching its final season, Amazon is hoping to swoop in as the home of the next big thing. However, while attempting to capitalize on an impending void in viewer’s lives is all well and good, it’s important the Amazon’s LOTR series forge its own identity, too.
People compare Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings quite often because they’re both grandiose fantasy epics, but the similarities are merely superficial. After all, Westeros and Middle-Earth are entirely different animals, as are the characters that inhabit them.
Yes, viewers love Game of Thrones, but that doesn’t mean they want Game of Thrones in Mordor. They want what was promised in Amazon’s press release, which is “previously unexplored stories based on J. R. R. Tolkien’s original writings,” and with the Tolkien Estate and Trust involved in the production, that’s hopefully what we’ll get.