Inside Amazon's $250M 'Lord of the Rings' Deal: "It's Very Much a Creature of the Times"

After battling Netflix for rights to bring the popular series to the small screen, the network's groundbreaking negotiation guaranteed a five-season commitment of J.R.R. Tolkien's adaptation, making it the "most expensive TV series ever."
Illustration by: Tim Peacock

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. With the clock ticking, Amazon must be in production within two years, according to the terms of the pact. When production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff.

"This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line president and chief content officer Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001. Those films have earned $5.85 billion worldwide at the box office, underscoring the property's enduring popularity.

As for whether Jackson is involved in the TV series as an executive producer remains to be seen and would be up to him. His attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the Amazon deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. The estranged brothers — the latter embroiled in an epic sex harassment and abuse scandal that was unfolding as the Amazon deal-making was in high gear — could have made noise. After all, they inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax.

The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for two or three."

Still, at least one deal insider wouldn't be surprised if either of the Weinsteins surfaced in the future to make a claim.

A version of this story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

 

Nearly 45 years after his death, J.R.R. Tolkien scored the biggest Hollywood deal of 2017. Since the British author doesn't return phone calls anymore, it took a phalanx of lawyers and dealmakers to bring to fruition what is poised to be the most expensive TV show ever.

On Nov. 13, Amazon Studios beat out Netflix for a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema that includes a five-season commitment to bring The Lord of the Rings to the small screen. The pact requires Amazon to get the show in production within two years and when production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion.

Within weeks of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' directive last September to his since-ousted content chief Roy Price to bring in the next Game of Thrones, negotiations were underway that also involved publisher HarperCollins and New Line. Greenberg Glusker attorney Matt Galsor, who served as the chief architect of the deal and repped the Tolkien estate, was hammering out terms that include a potential spinoff. "This is the most complicated deal I've ever seen," Galsor says, "but it was handled relatively quickly, in a way that brought the parties together in a close relationship. It was tough, but everybody liked each other and felt like a team more as the deal closed."

Dan Scharf, Amazon's head of television business affairs, ran point for the streaming giant. New Line and parent Warner Bros. never had TV rights to Rings, but Amazon may use material from the films, so New Line co-president Carolyn Blackwood and Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich were brought into the talks.

The Tolkien book rights have a long and complicated history. Since the author originally sold rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969, they have at points passed through the hands of MGM, producer Saul Zaentz and Miramax before New Line released Peter Jackson's six mega-hit adaptations, starting in 2001.

Jackson's attorney Peter Nelson was not a part of the 2017 rights negotiations but recently helped start a dialogue between Jackson and Amazon."It's very much a creature of the times," Nelson says of the deal. "We are in an era where streamers are bidding up the price of programming. I think Amazon is taking a page out of the studios' emphasis on franchises. They also are realizing that with the overproduction of television, you need to get the eyeballs to the screen, and you can do that with franchise titles."

So far, there's no sign of Bob Weinstein or his estranged brother Harvey trying to elbow their way into the deal. They inked an agreement with New Line in 1998 while they controlled the Tolkien film rights at Miramax. The Weinsteins were profit participants in the Rings trilogy, and they used their 1998 agreement as the basis to sue for a piece of the Hobbit films. Ultimately, they collected $12.5 million from the first Hobbit film, but nothing from the next two releases. "We won," says a studio source, "and they didn't get a dime for 2 or 3."

This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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