Amazon’s big-budget Lord of the Rings series to be developed by Star Trek writers

JD Payne and Patrick McKay will plot the drama – which comes with a hefty price tag

Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn in Lord of the Rings, SEAC, SL

Amazon has a lot riding on their Lord of the Rings TV series – $1 billion (£763 million), reportedly – so getting the right creatives involved is an important decision.


Eight months on from the announcement of the forthcoming series, Amazon new’s film and TV chief Jennifer Salke has confirmed that JD Payne and Patrick McKay will develop the big-budget drama.

The pair – best known for penning Star Trek 4 and Dwayne Johnson film Jungle Cruise – will work on the new tale, set in JRR Tolkien’s fictional world, but Salke, who announced the deal at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour, is yet to confirm them as showrunners or writers.

“The rich world that JRR Tolkien created is filled with majesty and heart, wisdom and complexity,” Payne and McKay – who met at school two decades ago – said in a statement.

“We are absolutely thrilled to be partnering with Amazon to bring it to life anew. We feel like Frodo, setting out from the Shire, with a great responsibility in our care – it is the beginning of the adventure of a lifetime.”

Amazon’s Lord of the Rings TV series comes from a $250 million (£190 million) deal with the Tolkien estate and is expected to span five seasons, with a possible spin-off. With casting, visual effects and the re-creation of Middle Earth, costs are expected to spiral close to $1 billion.

The plans come 15 years after the last Lord of the Rings film and four years after the conclusion of Martin Freeman’s Hobbit trilogy – both overseen by director Peter Jackson. The filmmaker’s role in Amazon’s project is yet to be determined.


“He may say he is involved or he’s not involved. We’re still very much in conversation with him about what kind of involvement he would propose,” Salke told The Hollywood Reporter back in June.