A television prequel series to the Lord of the Rings is to be shown on Amazon Prime after the tech giant secured the global TV rights to the fantasy franchise.
The show will be set in Middle Earth, as the Hollywood blockbusters of the 2000s were, but the storylines will take place before author JRR Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring – the first in the trilogy.
Amazon has said it is committed to a number of seasons and the deal, reported to cost almost $250m (£190m), also includes possible spin-off series.
The show will be shown on the streaming service and produced by Amazon Studios in association with the Tolkien Estate and Trust, HarperCollins and New Line Cinema, part of Warner Bros.
Sharon Tal Yguado from Amazon Studios said: “The Lord of the Rings is a cultural phenomenon that has captured the imagination of generations of fans through literature and the big screen.
“We are honoured to be working with the Tolkien Estate and Trust, HarperCollins and New Line on this exciting collaboration for television.
“And are thrilled to be taking The Lord of the Rings fans on a new epic journey in Middle Earth.”
Reaction on social media was mixed.
Twitter user @cersei_got wrote: “I’ll be mad if they ruin the Lord of the Rings. Don’t mess with my nerd side.”
And @astudyinpinkk said: “Fandom: don’t do this… please stop amazon.”
Also, @mel7pass tweeted: “Wait a minute, the Lord of the Rings aren’t a reboot, it’s a prequel, this is so much worse than I fear. They will gonna screw up the story.”
But @Bqueezyy said: “New Lord of the Rings series on Amazon in the works? I dig.”
New Lord of the Rings series on Amazon in the works? I dig.
— Blake Quesenberry (@Bqueezyy) 13 November 2017
Meanwhile, @SamtheBAM88 said: “This newly announced Lord of the Rings prequel series is gonna be either really good, or really bad. I don’t see it being anywhere in between.”
The news comes just over a week after speculation Amazon Studios was looking at a potential TV series based on the books and feature film franchise, produced by New Line.
Earlier this year, Warner Bros and the legal body which manages the writer’s work settled an $80m (£61m) lawsuit over profit participation in regards to the movie franchise.
The franchise includes The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Two Towers (2002) and The Return of the King (2003), as well as 2013 prequel The Hobbit.
For five years, the two bodies were embroiled in court proceedings, after the author’s estate said the studio overstepped the mark and made millions selling unauthorised merchandising.
Director Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy made a total of nearly $3bn (£2.2bn) at the box office when it was released in three instalments between 2001 and 2003.
All three films got an Oscar nomination for best picture with the last film, The Return of the King, winning the gong.
Jackson has since made another, less profitable, trilogy based on The Hobbit, and there are no reports of him being attached to this project as yet.