As Backlash Grows for Amazon’s New LOTR Series, IP Owners Want to Sell


Thanks to Vanity Fair, we have some new information to share with you regarding the highly anticipated fantasy epic The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Along with some new photos, the studio shared new details which offer far more insight on the story that the series plans to tell and the new characters who fill it. The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power follows the forging of the original rings of power that allowed the Dark Lord Sauron to spread darkness across Middle-earth.


Producers say the series will feature at least 22 main characters, and several plotlines, many of which have been created from scratch. One such story is the “forbidden” romantic relationship between a single mom who is the village healer played by Nazanin Boniadi and the elf Arondi, played by Ismael Cruz Cordova.



In a first-look profile of the series, the project’s creative team apparently wasn’t prepared for the backlash from fans to their vision, so they responded the way most self-absorbed Hollywood ideologues do when fans don’t react positively to their offerings: blame it all on racist trolls that “hate diversity”.


“It felt only natural to us that an adaptation of [author J.R.R.] Tolkien’s work would reflect what the world actually looks like,” says Lindsey Weber, an executive producer of the series. “Tolkien is for everyone. His stories are about his fictional races doing their best work when they leave the isolation of their own cultures and come together.”

Tolkien scholar Mariana Rios Maldonado asked, “Who are these people that feel so threatened or disgusted by the idea that an elf is Black or Latino or Asian?”



The story follows the Second Age of Middle-earth’s history and includes storylines about an elf named Arondir, played by Ismael Cruz Córdova — the first person of color to play a Tolkien elf onscreen — and dwarven princess named Disa, played by Sophia Nomvete — the franchise’s first female dwarf, as well as the first Black woman to play a LOTR dwarf. In addition, there are familiar characters such as younger versions of 11 favorites Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) and Elrond (Robert Aramayo). 

Two types of beloved characters have been restricted from the series, however: Wizards and hobbits, “who weren’t major players in the Second Age.” 


It remains unclear whether it’s the show’s producers, or Amazon’s marketing department, that determines which of these so-called “firsts” are noteworthy enough to merit mention, but this latest news is in all the trades as Amazon prepares to premiere a teaser trailer for The Rings of Power during Sunday’s Super Bowl LVI telecast. 



While it is true that Peter Jackson’s trilogy of films featured far fewer actors of color than Amazon’s The Rings of Power, the criticisms stem mostly from what producers feel is their modern approach to the storylines and the creation of all new characters and plots.









“The shire is based on rural England and not any other country in the world. The toponymy of the shire is a parody of rural England, in much the same sense are its inhabitants: they go together and are meant to. After all, the book is English, and by an Englishman.” – J.R.R. Tolkien


The studio found itself in hot water among fans last year after a report surfaced that the production had hired intimacy coordinators and ensured in the casting process that actors be comfortable with appearing in nude scenes. In a response to last year’s petition urging the Amazon series not to include nudity and gratuitous sex scenes, producers confirmed they do not plan to turn The Rings of Power into a “Game of Thrones”-style epic. 


According to Vanity Fair, the short answer is “no” when it comes to “The Rings of Power” having “Thrones”-level violence and sex. As showrunner Patrick McKay told Vanity Fair, “[The goal was] to make a show for everyone, for kids who are 11, 12 and 13, even though sometimes they might have to pull the blanket up over their eyes if it’s a little too scary.


Fans only just recently got to see a first teaser, and details had been sparse about the fantasy series, but the studio had confirmed that this series takes place thousands of years before Bilbo found the One Ring. We also know it has to do with the forging of the titular Rings of Power and how all that went sideways.



Interestingly, in a separate report, Variety announced that the Saul Zaentz Company, the parent company of Middle-Earth Enterprises, Zaentz Co. is currently looking to sell off its holdings on The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit franchises. This includes movie, merchandising, gaming, and live event rights. The company was formed shortly after J.R.R. Tolkien sold the rights in 1976. Middle-earth Enterprises (originally called Tolkien Enterprises) produced the 1978 adaptation of The Lord of the Rings directed by Ralph Bakshi. From 2001-2003 they went on to produce the infamous Lord of the Rings trilogy directed by Peter Jackson. Throughout the years, the company has had a hand in distribution, producing, and merchandising of the franchise.


The timing for this announcement should be very curious to LOTR fans. While Amazon is preparing for the grand premiere of its highly anticipated, mega-sized budget TV series Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, it is expected that Amazon will be a prime candidate to grab those rights still held by Zaentz. Currently the properties are projected to bring in at least $2 billion based on the popularity and reputation of the IP, and Zaentz may feel the value could drop after the series debuts. Based on what we’re learning this week, it might indeed be a good time to sell.


The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power premiers on September 2 on Amazon Prime Video.

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Jamison Ashley

Comic geek, movie nerd, father, and husband - but not necessarily in that order. Former captain of this ship o' fools secretly training everyone's computers and snarkphone spell-checkers to misspell 'supposebly.'