While the opportunity to collaborate with Amazon fell through, Jackson is looking forward to watching the show as a “neutral viewer.”
To many, the name Peter Jackson is almost as synonymous with the “Lord of the Rings” franchise as JRR Tolkien. The Oscar-winning director revolutionized genre filmmaking with his original trilogy of “Lord of the Rings” films before famously (or infamously) returning to the franchise to direct three films based on Tolkien’s prequel “The Hobbit.”
So when Amazon announced that it had closed a record-breaking deal to produce “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,” a new series inspired by Tolkien’s mythology-expanding appendices to his original books, many fans found it hard to imagine a cinematic cartoonal of the Middle Earth without Jackson at the helm. As it turns out, they almost didn’t have to.
Appearing on The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast, Jackson revealed that he was asked to participate in the show and was open to the idea. But when he asked Amazon to send him the scripts, they never got back to him.
“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 said. “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.”
In a statement provided to THR, Amazon responded to Jackson’s comments by citing an “obligation” to differentiate themselves from Jackson’s films. According to the THR report, that was due to the fact that Warner Bros. Discovery still owns the films, and it had to be clear that “Rings of Power” was an entirely separate piece of intellectual property. IndieWire has reached out to the series’ reps for additional comment.
“In pursuing the rights for our show, we were obligated to keep the series distinct and separate from the films,” a spokesperson for the company said. “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.'”
Despite the confusion, Jackson wishes the series all the best and plans to enthusiastically watch it.
“I’ll be watching it,” Jackson said. “I’m not the sort of guy who wishes ill will. 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.”
The THR report adds that the situation was complicated by the fact that the Tolkien estate was opposed to having Jackson working on the project. The author’s son Christopher Tolkien was famously opposed to Jackson’s take on the material, and allegedly did not want him involved with the series. The situation was made more complicated by the fact that one of the top advocates for hiring Jackson, former Amazon genre programming head Sharon Tal Yguado, left the company before the project was finished.