Of all the feathers in Amazon CEO Jeff Bezosâ€™ many-feathered cap, one of the bigger ones in recent years is the announcement that his companyâ€™s studios are working on a Lord of the Rings TV series. With HBO riding high withÂ Game of Thrones, Netflix sporting its Marvel shows, and Hulu showing off stuff likeÂ The Handmaidâ€™s Tale,Â every network has some prestige shows to get people in the door and paying. There might not be any show that has as much prestige going in as an explicitlyÂ Lord of the Rings-affiliated show, though. So why did HBO, the godking of prestige networks, pass on the show?
HBO CEO Richard Plepler opened up about it at the recent Business Insider Ignition conference, according to Variety.
â€œIâ€™d rather own our IP 100%â€¦ and Iâ€™d rather have the ability to work with a product that is inextricably linked to our brand,â€ Plepler said.
While shows likeÂ Game of Thrones andÂ Westworld come from properties created outside HBO, thereâ€™s no question theyâ€™re HBO properties at this point. For a huge number ofÂ Game of Thronesâ€˜ viewership, itâ€™s an HBO show before itâ€™s a long-running novel series. Even moreso,Â WestworldÂ is an HBO product, not a reimagining of a 1973 sci-fi movie featuring Yul Brenner.
Lord of the Rings, on the other hand, is one of the most-read book series in the modern worldÂ and one of the most-watched movie series. Thereâ€™s already a picture ofÂ Lord of the Rings in the heads of people all over the world, and the HBO logo isnâ€™t hovering in the bottom-right corner of any of those pictures. The rights and credit for the property are tangled up in the Tolkien estate, Time Warnerâ€™s New Line Cinema arm, and director Peter Jackson, too. The same way Marvel is trying to pull its own stuff in-house, it doesnâ€™t seem surprising that HBO would rather try its hand at creating the next big thing in-house instead of keeping a team of lawyers on retainer to navigate the complex rights of this show.