In 1917 J.R.R. Tolkien was battling trench fever in a military field hospital in France — however, the fantasy author was already formulating ideas for his great work, The Simarillion in his head, even as he was battling his fever. Per the One Wiki To Rule Them All, Tolkien actually thought that The Simarillion was his most important work.
It wouldn't be published until after he died.
Fans of Prime Video's newest series, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power are wondering if the show is adapting elements from The Simarillion. Here's what we know!
Who owns the rights to, 'The Simarillion,' anyway?
So, to make it clear — Prime Video actually doesn't own the rights to The Simarillion.
Per Culture Slate, one of the Rings of Power's showrunners J.D. Payne explained in a Vanity Fair interview that, "We have the rights solely to The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King, the appendices, and The Hobbit. And that is it. We do not have the rights to The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, The History of Middle-Earth, or any of those other books."
How much did Prime Video have to pay for those rights alone? Per another interview from Vanity Fair, the starting price for the rights to, "the Appendices that outlined what the author had referred to as the Second Age of Middle-earth, along with any references to that time period in The Lord of the Rings itself," was $200 million. The Tolkien estate also wanted creative input in any potential television series.
Hey, if anyone can afford that starting price, it's Jeff Bezos!
Prime Video ultimately won the rights at the Tolkien estate auction for a cool $250 million (now The Rings of Power is reportedly the most expensive television show ever made!)
J.D explained in the Vanity Fair interview that his team worked extensively in tandem with the Tolkien estate to be as respectful as possible to the source material they had the rights to.
However, he also acknowledged that The Rings of Power is an adaptation, saying, "Look, there might be some fans who want us to do a documentary of Middle-earth, but we’re going to tell one story that unites all these things.”
The co-showrunner had confidence in the quality of the series, saying, "We think the work will eventually speak for itself."
The Tolkien estate is releasing a new book.
For those still a bit confused about The Rings of Power timeline, the show is set during the Second Age (for comparison's sake, The Lord of the Rings is set during the Third Age.)
Per Newsweek, the Tolkien Estate will actually be releasing a new anthology of Tolkien's stories about Middle-earth in the Second Age. Fans will be able to purchase a copy of The Fall of Númenor starting on Nov. 10th, 2022. In the interim, you can catch new episodes of The Rings of Power every Friday on Prime Video.