Amazon’s quest to become the one streaming service to rule them all has led it to greenlight a rebooted Lord of the Rings series. At least one of the actors from Peter Jackson’s Tolkien films—John Rhys-Davies, who played Gimli the dwarf—has some strong feelings about that.
While Amazon has produced shows based on preexisting works before, the decision to go forward with Lord of the Rings does seem somewhat strange, given that we’re only a few years out from Peter Jackson’s 13-year-run on New Line Cinema’s franchise of Tolkien films (The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies came out in 2014). In one form or another, Middle-earth has been a major part of the pop cultural conversation for some time now. So, why does the world need a brand-new series based on that same source material?
During a recent interview with Den of Geek, Rhys-Davies pretty much came right out and blamed good old-fashioned greed:
Why we quite need Lord Of The Rings as a TV series baffles me slightly, but I’m sure that [in all honesty I can’t make out the word here and don’t think it’s wise to make an educated guess] are so utterly un-principled and greedy for money for anything – I mean the extraordinary money they’re getting from online gambling and stuff like this, it’s just a disgrace. I mean, poor Tolkien must be spinning in his grave.
Rhys-Davies went on to correctly point out that in deciding to go ahead with Lord of the Rings as opposed to telling an original story, Amazon runs the risk of simply rehashing a very well-trodden fantasy tale—when instead, it could’ve used its resources to give other kinds of narratives within the same genre (like those that focus on women or people of color) a chance to shine.
With original series like The Tick, Transparent, and Man in the High Castle under its belt, Amazon’s made it clear that it would very much like to win the ongoing War of the Streaming Services. There’s going to be a massive power vacuum in the world of prestige genre television when Game of Thrones ends its reign, and from the looks of it, Amazon’s really just betting that it’ll be able to take advantage and cash in on some very, very unripe nostalgia.