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Peter Jackson’s Comments on The Rings Of Power: Rights Executives and The Tolkien Estate

The new article by the Hollywood Reporter has revealed some new comments by acclaimed and award winning director of the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, Sir Peter Jackson. From the headline of the article Peter Jackson Says Amazon’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ TV Series Ghosted Him is a somewhat clickbait title in nature. Still, the quotes and added insight via the sources in the article are of interest, especially around the potential involvement of the Tolkien Estate, executives and more. Firstly, here are the comments from the director.

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“They asked me if I wanted to be involved — [writer-producer Fran Walsh] and I — and I said, ‘That’s an impossible question to answer without seeing a script,’” Jackson recalls to Scott Feinberg on The Hollywood Reporter‘s Awards Chatter podcast. “So they said, ‘As soon as we get the first couple scripts, we’ll send them to you.’ And the scripts never showed up. That’s the last thing I heard, which is fine. No complaints at all.”

Despite this confusion between the two parties, Peter Jackson still went on to state: “I’ll be watching it,” he says. “I’m not the sort of guy who wishes ill will. Filmmaking is hard enough. If somebody makes a good film or TV show, it’s something to celebrate. The one thing I am looking forward to is actually seeing it as a perfectly neutral viewer.”

Overall, there seems to be no love lost between Peter Jackson and Amazon studios, with this event not effecting his outlook on the show and he is even excited of the possibility to “seeing it as a perfectly neutral viewer” for the first time. This ordeal despite reading somewhat like a feud with “ghosted” even being in the headline, this part of the overall piece is not where the main interest lies. The more interesting revelation comes from the statement by Amazon and the claimed knowledge by insiders.

Amazon stated: “In pursuing the rights for our show, we were obligated to keep the series distinct and separate from the films. We have the utmost respect for Peter Jackson and The Lord of The Rings films and are thrilled that he is looking forward to the watching The Rings of Power.”

The revealing part from this statement, “In pursuing the rights for our show, we were obligated to keep the series distinct and separate from the films” possibly suggests that this departure of relations with Peter Jackson may have been more in line with the views and beliefs of the Tolkien Estate. Especially, with the mention of the “rights” which made Amazon “obligated” to have this new interpretation of Middle- earth based in the Second- age to be “distinct” from the Peter Jackson Film universe and aesthetic. Without actual confirmation from the Tolkien Estate, Amazon, or Peter Jackson for the matter, this claim is not concrete, but a possible interpretation on the statement made by Amazon. There has been a long standing rivalry between the Tolkien Estate and the movies, illustrated through the lawsuit over merchandise and money owed by Warner Brothers which eventually got resolved in 2017- in fact just before the initial rights were sold by Amazon. Therefore, this potential animosity over the Peter Jackson universe (not necessarily animosity towards Peter Jackson himself) might have been a reason as to why this event occurred. Of course, relations between Peter Jackson and higher ups in the Tolkien Estate are notorious, in regards to the comments and disdain towards the movie trilogies by the late Christopher Tolkien who even commented “They eviscerated the book by making it an action movie for young people aged 15 to 25, and it seems that The Hobbit will be the same kind of film.” Instead, starting this new adventure into Middle- earth with a fresh take, detached from the existing style and continuity of the film trilogies would have been a preferred option by the Tolkien estate.

Again, it is important to stress that at the moment, this is just an interpretation of the whole situation and in no way a fact.

Despite not being a fact, the Hollywood Reporter’s insiders have stated that they have heard something to the same effect, in regards to the interpretation detailed above. “Perhaps even more crucially, sources say author J.R.R. Tolkien’s estate was against having Jackson on board.” 

Finally, an interesting revelation from the insider section of the article revolves around the involvement of Sharon Tal Yguado the former head of genre planning at Prime Video who was influential in the early stages in securing the deal and the rights for the Rings of Power especially due to her deep insight of the lore. However, she left the company in 2019 and has now founded her own company Astrid Entertainment and this executive change could have possibly swayed favours and changed plans in regards to the involvement of Peter Jackson which originally could have potentially been possible: “First, that the studio has high regard for Jackson and that Rings of Power showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay have privately attempted to make overtures to the filmmaker. “

Overall, this situation is nothing too problematic as in less than 30 days we will be seeing a new vision and interpretation of Middle- earth, through the lens of the Second Age, a story set thousands of years before Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings by showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick Mckay.

Fellowship of Fans

I’m Fellowship the creator and manager of Fellowship of Fans and my first introduction to Tolkien was unsurprisingly through my father reading me the Hobbit when I was very young. Being able to grow FoF into a wider and uplifting community is a privilege.

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