This past week, two pieces of news came to light that brought massive changes to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien literature–the retirement of Tolkien’s son as director of the Tolkien Estate, and the surprise announcement that there’s a new TV series in the works that will expand on the Lord of the Rings.

According to TheOneRing.net, 93-year-old Christopher Tolkien–who was very protective of the rights to his father’s literary properties–has officially retired from Tolkien Estate. Movie rights for The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings had already been licensed in the 1960s, but little else of J.R.R. Tolkien’s property rights were ever licensed out.

Now that Christopher Tolkien has retired, it has opened up the rights for a television series (among other things). Amazon and Warner Brothers are now partnering on a series that promises to explore new stories in Middle Earth.

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Here is the press release:

Amazon to Adapt J.R.R. Tolkien’s Globally Renowned Fantasy Novels, The Lord of the Rings, for Television with a Multi Season Production Commitment

Television adaptation, exploring new storylines preceding J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring, slated to debut exclusively on Prime Video

SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–(NASDAQ: AMZN)—Amazon today announced it has acquired the global television rights to The Lord of the Rings, based on the celebrated fantasy novels by J.R.R. Tolkien, with a multi-season commitment. The upcoming Amazon Prime Original will be produced by Amazon Studios in cooperation with the Tolkien Estate and Trust, HarperCollins and New Line Cinema, a division of Warner Bros. Entertainment.

“The Lord of the Rings is a cultural phenomenon that has captured the imagination of generations of fans through literature and the big screen,” said Sharon Tal Yguado, Head of Scripted Series, Amazon Studios. “We are honored to be working with the Tolkien Estate and Trust, HarperCollins and New Line on this exciting collaboration for television and are thrilled to be taking The Lord of the Rings fans on a new epic journey in Middle Earth.”

“We are delighted that Amazon, with its longstanding commitment to literature, is the home of the first-ever multi-season television series for The Lord of the Rings,” said Matt Galsor, a representative for the Tolkien Estate and Trust and HarperCollins. “Sharon and the team at Amazon Studios have exceptional ideas to bring to the screen previously unexplored stories based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s original writings.”

Set in Middle Earth, the television adaptation will explore new storylines preceding J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring. The deal includes a potential additional spin-off series.

A world-renowned literary work, and winner of the International Fantasy Award and Prometheus Hall of Fame Award, The Lord of the Rings novels was named Amazon customers’ favorite book of the millennium in 1999 and Britain’s best-loved novel of all time in BBC’s The Big Read in 2003. Its theatrical adaptations, from New Line Cinema and Director Peter Jackson, earned a combined gross of nearly $6 billion worldwide. With an all-star cast that included Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Sean Astin and Orlando Bloom, The Lord of the Rings trilogy garnered a combined 17 Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

The upcoming Amazon Prime Original will be available for Prime members to stream in more than 200 countries and territories.

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About The Author

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892.1973) was a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford, a fellow of Pembroke College, and a fellow of Merton College until his retirement in 1959. Tolkien and friend C.S. Lewis shared the belief that their fantastical storytelling was a way to smuggle Christian truth past the biases of secularized readers. His books have been translated into more than forty languages and have sold many millions of copies worldwide.