We have all been ghosted before, but did we react as gracefully as director Peter Jackson?
The Lord of the Rings trilogy is one of the greatest series of all time, being both an epic cinematic achievement and a great financial success. Peter Jackson, who worked with Miramax to bring his ideas to life, spearheaded the franchise’s development and became synonymous with its overall success with the original trilogy and The Hobbit trilogy.
When a franchise is doing as well as LOTR, it makes sense to expand the world through a spin-off series. At least, that is what Amazon Studios thought when they acquired the global television rights to the franchise.
"The Lord of the Rings is a cultural phenomenon that has captured the imagination of generations of fans through literature and the big screen," Sharon Tal Yguado, Head of Scripted Series for Amazon Studios, said in a statement at the time.
Amazon is taking us back to the magic of Middle-earth with its new series, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, which will bring to screen the legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history. How did they do it? Well, it wasn't with Jackson's help.
Peter Jackson on Being Cut Off
To recapture the magic of the original trilogy, Amazon Studios reached out to Jackson to see if he would be involved with its upcoming megabudget series. The Oscar-winning director told the Hollywood Reporter that he would have given them an answer if he saw the script, and the studio agreed only to then never contact Jackson again.
"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 told 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."
Jackson emphasized that he has no hard feelings toward Amazon’s series and is excited to watch it as a fan. “I’ll be watching it. I’m not the sort of guy who wishes ill will.”
Jackson understands how difficult it is to adapt J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels for the screen, and was eager to help polish the scripts. Although they never came, Jackson hopes that the show turns out well.
“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,” Jackson said.
'LOTR: The Rings of Power' gets an enigmatic set of character posters 💍🗡 pic.twitter.com/wsk7tt4nI5— Fandom (@getFANDOM) February 3, 2022
Why Did Amazon Studios Ghost Jackson?
Amazon Studios responded to Jackson’s comments on being ghosted, stating:
"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 watching The Rings of Power."
Sources close to the project report the complicated and delicate production. It seems that there were legal concerns about the connection between the film, which is owned by Warner Bros., and the TV shows. The Tolkien estate is also involved in the creation of the series after Amazon paid the estate $250 million for the rights to make the show.
Back in 2013, Christopher Tolkien, the son of J.R.R. Tolkien described Jackson’s trilogy to Le Monde as “eviscerating” his father’s books, claiming that the films turned his novels into action movies for people that lack “beauty and seriousness.”
While many of us disagree with this statement, Amazon was fully aware that they needed the blessing and rights from the estate to make their megabudget series. To respect both the Tolkien estate and Jackson’s trilogy, the filmmakers decided that the best and safest move was to ignore Jackson.
Jackson talks modestly about his trilogy, often regarding it as an achievement in CGI and practical effects. But we all understand the impact that LOTR has on filmmaking. Without Jackson’s accomplishment, there is a strong chance that Game of Thrones would have never been greenlit by HBO.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power premiers on Prime Video on Sept. 2nd.
What are your expectations for the show? Let us know in the comments!