Netflix reportedly pitched a $250 million 'Marvel approach' to 'Lord of the Rings' TV shows, but it 'freaked out' the Tolkien estate

Netflix reportedly pitched a $250 million 'Marvel approach' to 'Lord of the Rings' TV shows, but it 'freaked out' the Tolkien estate
Aragorn in "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King."New Line Cinema
  • Netflix pitched the Tolkien estate on "Lord of the Rings" TV shows before Amazon landed the rights.
  • It took a "Marvel approach" that "freaked out" the estate, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Before Amazon landed the rights to its "Lord of the Rings" series "The Rings of Power," there were other suitors vying for the fantasy IP.

One of those was Netflix. The Hollywood Reporter reported on Wednesday that the streaming giant pitched several ideas to the Tolkien estate, including a Gandalf show and an Aragorn series (characters who were played in the "Lord of the Rings" film trilogy by Ian McKellen and Viggo Mortensen, respectively).

One source told THR that Netflix took a "Marvel approach, and that completely freaked out the estate."

THR also reported that Netflix bid $250 million for the rights, which has been widely reported to be the number Amazon paid for the series. Amazon bid "tens of millions less," according to THR, though the number was "still staggering."

Neither Netflix or the Tolkien estate immediately responded to Insider's requests for comment.


Another potential suitor was HBO, which already has a big-budget fantasy franchise in "Game of Thrones" and its currently airing prequel, "House of the Dragon."

The premium cable network pitched the estate on retelling the story of the "Third Age" from JRR Tolkien's books, which would have essentially meant remaking the "Lord of the Rings" film trilogy. The estate passed because it didn't want to rehash familiar territory, according to THR.

Amazon ultimately landed the series by promising a close relationship that would give the estate creative say, according to THR.

The plan is to tell the story of the "Second Age" of Middle-earth over the course of five seasons — basically, the prologue to the first movie, "The Fellowship of the Ring." The show's first season concludes next Friday.

The show had a solid debut. Nielsen said that viewers in the US watched 1.25 billion minutes of its two-episode premiere over their first four days of release (this translated to over 12 million viewers, according to THR).


But the show has faced growing pains, such as harsh audience reaction (some of which is the result of "review bombing" on aggregation sites like Rotten Tomatoes by racist fans, but it's impossible to determine how vast those reactions are).

Its creators believe the show improves over the course of season one, and will be "bigger and better" on "every level" in season two, co-showrunner Patrick McKay told THR.