Jennifer Salke, the head of Amazon Studios, doesn’t seem to be bothered by the competition from Warner Bros. for producing projects based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings.” She believes that Middle-earth is vast enough for both studios to explore and create their own unique adaptations of the beloved story.
J.R.R. Tolkien is the author of the fantasy book “The Lord of the Rings.” The story is set in the fictional world of Middle-earth and follows the journey of hobbit Frodo Baggins and his companions as they seek to destroy the One Ring, a powerful and evil artifact created by the dark lord Sauron. Along the way, they encounter a host of characters from various races, including humans, elves, dwarves, and wizards, and must overcome a range of obstacles and challenges. The novel explores themes of friendship, loyalty, sacrifice, and the struggle between good and evil. The book has been adapted into several movies, TV series, and video games, and has gained a massive fan following around the world.
Jennifer Salke, who has been the head of content at Amazon since 2018, made an appearance on the red carpet for the premiere of Michael B. Jordan’s “Creed III” on Monday. During an interview with Variety at the event, she discussed the recent news about Warner Bros. obtaining the film rights to certain books by J.R.R. Tolkien.
One of Jennifer Salke’s notable achievements at Amazon was securing the television rights to J.R.R. Tolkien’s literary works, which came at a significant cost. Amazon’s first season of “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” premiered in 2022, accompanied by a massive global marketing campaign and critical acclaim. The reported budget for the first set of episodes was over $450 million. Warner Bros. previously produced two highly successful film franchises based on the same source material, directed by Peter Jackson, starting in 2001. The movies collectively earned over $5 billion at the worldwide box office and won the best picture Oscar for one of the film.
“We’ll see,” Salke told Variety when asked how much “LOTR” would be too much for the market. “We love our original series. We’re extremely proud of it, and invested long term. So, we definitely think there’s enough fan love to sustain ours for a long time.”
The leadership teams behind these projects are also noteworthy. In March of 2021, Amazon acquired MGM for $8.5 billion, and at the time, MGM’s film operation was being led by experienced producers Mike De Luca and Pamela Abdy. Shortly after the deal closed, both executives left MGM to take on leadership roles at Warner Bros. Pictures. The announcement of Warner Bros.’s new “LOTR” projects will mark De Luca and Abdy’s first significant franchise effort at their new studio.
During the quarterly earnings call, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav mentioned that Amazon CEO Andy Jassy was actively involved in pushing the intellectual property forward, and he has been successful in doing so. It’s worth noting that Jennifer Salke took over control of MGM’s film, TV, distribution, and marketing operations in November of 2021.
“For all the scope and detail lovingly packed into the two trilogies, the vast, complex, and dazzling universe dreamed up by J.R.R. Tolkien remains largely unexplored,” De Luca and Abdy said upon announcing the new WB films.
While the release date for Season 2 of Amazon’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” has not been officially announced yet, there have been reports indicating that it will premiere in 2023.