Before Amazon earned the rights to make The Rings of Power, both Netflix and HBO pitched the idea of a Marvel-type Lord of the Rings universe to the Tolkien estate, which they were not best pleased with.
Apparently, HBO had been interested in remakes of Peter Jackson’s original Lord of the Rings film trilogy. However, the Tolkien estate was not impressed by the idea of returning to the Third Age of Middle Earth.
An insider source of the talks between Netflix and the Tolkien estate said that suggestions to take “the Marvel approach” with a proposed Gandalf series and an Aragorn drama “completely freaked out the estate”.
Eventually, Amazon would successfully pitch The Rings of Power, but even prior to that project seeing the light of day, they had interviewed a swathe of writers, producers and directors. Reportedly, two of those were the Russo Brothers, who directed Avengers: Endgame.
Amazon Studios TV head Vernon Sanders said of earning the rights to make The Rings of Power: “It was our collective passion and fidelity to Tolkien that really won the day.”
Then showrunner Patrick McKay explained: “Some of what’s been hardest to hear is the cynical point of view that this is a cash grab. It’s like, oh my God, the opposite. This is the most earnest production. This is not a paycheque job for anybody. This is a labour of love.”
McKay and partner J.D. Payne had been longtime fans of the IP, which is most likely why they got the nod to make the show. McKay added, “We had reached a point — we’d been writing movies for 10 years that should have gotten made. Movies where the director was right, the cast was right, the script was right, the title was right, and it was a big IP — and it still wasn’t happening. So [we thought] maybe we should try this TV thing.”