Amazon’s quest to resurrect The Lord of the Rings will begin with a multi-season TV show that’s slowly starting to take shape.
Rooted in Middle-earth, the pitch itself is said to be similar to Game of Thrones both in terms of scale and scope, and will apparently explore new storylines preceding J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring. Both Netflix and HBO had been approached by the Tolkien estate in the past, but it was ultimately Amazon who put out close to $250 million for LotR‘s global rights, which is said to include the possibility of an additional spinoff. Again, this has the potential to become a Game of Thrones-level franchise for Amazon Studios.
Headed up by the company’s CEO Jeff Bezos, not many details were disclosed at the time of the original announcement, but that hasn’t stopped industry insiders from labeling the record-setting deal as “insane,” as that alleged $250 million price tag doesn’t account for the sky-high expenses that often come hand-in-hand with a big-budget fantasy series. Once you factor everything else in, it’s looking like the studio may end up spending $1 billion to bring Tolkien’s saga to life on the small screen. Yes, $1 billion.
So, it’s clear that this project is going to be a big, big deal for Amazon then and we imagine that they’ll be aiming high when it comes to casting. To date, we haven’t heard any names floated around, but fans have begun wondering whether any of the actors from Peter Jackson’s films might find their way back to Middle-earth. It’s certainly possible and now, one individual has opened up about making a return, saying he’d be down to come back for more.
Sir Ian McKellen, who’s played Gandalf across six movies (both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies), has expressed interest in reprising the role for Amazon’s upcoming series. Speaking on Graham Norton’s BBC 2 Radio show, he was asked how he feels about there being another Gandalf in town, to which he replied: “What do you mean, another Gandalf?” While he was quick to clarify that he’s in no way attached to the TV show, he did say that he’s not too old yet to play the part.
“I haven’t said yes because I haven’t been asked,” the actor continued. “But are you suggesting that someone else is going to play it? Gandalf is over 7000 years old, so I’m not too old [yet].”
Could McKellen actually return to Middle-earth, though? Well, it’s still far too early to say, but like we mentioned above, Amazon’s show will actually be set before the events of the first novel in the trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Gandalf won’t be involved, just that we’re not sure if the character even has a role in the show yet.
Hopefully he does, though, as it’d be a lot of fun to see Sir Ian McKellen return to this world and give us another performance as the legendary wizard. Not to mention it’d go a long way to getting people on board with the series, as there’s definitely some ambivalence at the moment, with many feeling that the property doesn’t belong on the small screen.
That’s certainly a good point, as it’s hard to imagine a television budget doing justice to Tolkien’s world and characters, but until the project develops further, we’ll remain cautiously optimistic about Amazon’s Lord of the Rings TV show and hope that McKellen somehow finds a way to appear in it