Jeff Bezos wants Amazon's new 'Lord of the Rings' series to do more than just make boatloads of money: 'I hope we do Tolkien's work justice'

·3 min read
lord of the rings the rings of power
A still from Amazon's soon-to-be-released "The Lord of the Rings" series.Amazon
  • Amazon founder Jeff Bezos chimed in on his company's "The Lord of the Rings" prequel airing Sept. 2.

  • It's likely to rake in major viewership numbers and, in turn, new subscribers.

  • But Bezos told Time "our hearts are in it" and that he hopes "we do Tolkien's work justice."

Amazon's much-anticipated return to Middle-earth is nearly upon us, and founder Jeff Bezos has chimed in on the $1 billion production.

In an in-depth feature Monday, Time magazine detailed the company's goliath "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power," a prequel TV series set 3,000 years before the popular J.R.R. Tolkien tale we've held dear for decades, particularly thanks to Peter Jackson's highly popular trilogy from the early 2000s.

It also touched on how the series is likely to be a huge subscription driver as viewers hand over cash for Prime memberships to watch the beloved spinoff. Some fans have been voicing concern that that is what the series is to Amazon: a mere cash cow.

But Bezos told Time that the project goes beyond reaping economic benefits for the company.

"Middle-earth is such a beloved world, and telling the story of the forging of the Rings of Power is a privilege and a responsibility. I hope we do Tolkien's work justice," he told the magazine in an email. "It goes beyond making a commercially successful show. Everyone working on the show read these stories as kids and our hearts are in it."

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Bezos has long been a reported fan of all things science fiction and fantasy — Variety reported in late 2017 that he was personally involved in Amazon's negotiations to develop a spinoff of "The Lord of the Rings." Bezos was also said to have helped save "The Expanse," a beloved SyFy channel show that was in danger of being shut down in 2018 and that is now available on Prime Video.

Prime Video is Amazon's prized stallion in the crowded streaming race with heavy hitters like Netflix, Disney+, and HBO Max also competing for eyeballs and monthly fees.

At this junction in the market, a key strategy is offering behemoth tentpole programs to entice new subscribers — or retain existing ones.

For Netflix, that has been "Stranger Things" and "Bridgerton," just to name a couple. For Disney+, that's been Marvel's superhero extravaganzas like "Loki."

And for Amazon's Prime, viewers have eaten up shows like "The Marvelous Ms. Maisel" and "The Boys." Its "Lord of the Rings" prequel will likely also be a significant selling point.

Netflix has long been the reigning streamer but saw a dip in subscriber growth in Q1 for the first time in over a decade. To help compensate, the creators of "Stranger Things" have a spinoff in the works, a move part of a broader plan to take the platform's most successful programs and expand upon them.

However, Netflix has still appeared to have set an example for what consumers want in a streaming service — Amazon announced a new, less-cluttered interface for Prime Video in July that looks a lot like Netflix.

"The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" premieres on Prime Video beginning Sept. 2.

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