Tom Shippey, a retired Middle-Earth and Old English professor and Tolkien scholar, is currently attached to Amazon's upcoming Lord of the Rings series as a supervisor. Speaking to German Tolkien fan site Tolkien Gesell-Schaft, he explained the limits that the Tolkien Estate has placed on Amazon Studios when it comes to their creative vision.
The series takes place during the Second Age, during which many important events took place, not all of which have been detailed in Tolkien's works. "The Tolkien Estate will insist that the main shape of the Second Age is not altered," Shippey explained. "Sauron invades Eriador, is forced back by a Númenorean expedition and returns to Númenor. There he corrupts the Númenoreans and seduces them to break the ban of the Valar." As the Tolkien Estate demands, "All this, the course of history, must remain the same."
It sounds like a lot, but Shippey is confident Amazon Studios still has a lot of room to maneuver. "You can add new characters and ask a lot of questions, like: What has Sauron done in the meantime? Where was he after Morgoth was defeated?" The scholar added, "Theoretically, Amazon can answer these questions by inventing the answers, since Tolkien did not describe it."
These restrictions may come as a pleasant surprise to dedicated fans who might be more familiar with J.R.R. Tolkien's work beyond the massively successful film trilogies. After all, Tolkien created an expansive and detailed world with Middle-Earth that continues to influence the fantasy genre.
It has been reported that the series will likely air in 2021.