Amazon has given an unprecedented $200 million just for the right to make a new LORD OF THE RINGS TV series, and that’s before any development or specific idea has been brought forth.
Also not clear yet is who exactly will be the creative mastermind behind Warner Bros. epic reboot of their Peter Jackson film franchise, which spawns six movies between the original Lord of the Rings and prequel The Hobbit trilogies.
What we do know is that WBTV and Amazon, in committing to a multi-season series order on the new project, will be looking to tell another prequel story, set before the events of The Fellowship of the Ring.
With that vague premise in mind, here are 17 potential showrunners who could take the reigns of a new Lord of the Rings TV series.
Who knows what Waititi wants to do as his next project, coming off of Thor: Ragnorak? But the New Zealand director certainly has history with the LOTR franchise, having directed that viral Air New Zealand safety video, and he’s always snuck in references to the franchise in his own projects. What a Hollywood ending this would be.
The rising showrunner is a hot commodity coming off of the gone-too-soon Underground. After proving her ability to tell a gorgeous historical drama with grit on that series, Green has shown a knack and an affinity for genre fare, selling action-thriller Mother to Netflix and developing a series adaptation of Lovecraft Country for HBO.
Ronald D. Moore
Groomed in the writers’ room of various Star Trek series, currently running the critically acclaimed and fan-favorite adaptation of Outlander, Moore has also proven he knows how to successfully create a new vision for a previously successful genre IP, as the mastermind behind Syfy’s iconic reboot of Battlestar Galactica.
She’s probably way too busy to even be considered for such a task, but just imagine a Lord of the Rings reboot with the fantastical elements of A Wrinkle in Time and the emotional honesty of Queen Sugar.
With a wealth of experience in genre shows, most recently running Fox’s Sleepy Hollow, Kim also has experience with telling an often-told story and making it fresh with The CW’s version of Nikita.
Coming up through the ranks of Supernatural and Aquarious, Gamble has become a showrunner-to-watch with her hit Syfy show The Magicians, boasting a passionate, dedicated fanbase, and she’s also now running Lifetime’s new thriller series You, firmly on the road to super-producer status.
Amazon didn’t spend $200 million upfront to not go after the top talent possible for this series, and they’re already in business with the recent Oscar winner, who’s writing and directing an adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad for the streaming platform. That book, of course, is a fantastical historical epic.
One of Warner Bros’ most high profile showrunners, Plec has a long history of running fantasy and genre shows that get what it’s really about: An emotional connection with the audience. Just try to find fans that loved their geek thing more deeply than The Vampire Diaries fans did. After ending that vampire drama and its spinoff The Originals, Plec is poised for another big project to take on.
An icon of geek culture, Fuller is beloved for quirky, whimsical original series like Pushing Daisies and more recently, adaptations of beloved genre properties like Hannibal and American Gods.
The Wonder Woman director is already turning to TV after the massive success of the DC comic book adaptation, executive producing TNT’s Someday She’ll Darken. LOTR also keeps her in the WB family — if she’s not too busy prepping Diana’s next adventure.
A veteran of the sci-fi TV genre, Miller just won an Emmy for The Handmaid’s Tale, making him one of the most coveted and powerful showrunners working right now. To get the same lush, gorgeous take on Lord of the Rings that is on Hulu’s dystopian adaptation, we’d pair him again with director Reed Morano, who was instrumental in shaping the look and feel of the show.
Salim & Mara Brock Akil
The husband and wife team recently signed a big overall deal with Warner Bros. TV and is about to launch their first big sci-fi action franchise show, The CW’s Black Lightning, with WBTV’s super-producer Greg Berlanti.
Hawley has his own distinct style, even when you put him on a big, splashy franchise. Who could have predicted an X-Men series turning out like Legion? Which makes a Noah Hawley LOTR series enticingly intriguing.
Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan
Westworld. Warner Bros. TV. This husband and wife duo probably have an inside track here and it would certainly be well-deserved.
Currently a staff writer on Hulu’s Castle Rock, Bernardin is new to TV writing but has serious geek cred thanks to his podcast with Kevin Smith and writing on various comic books. He’s already expressed interest in writing for the show. Come on, WBTV, holler at your boy.
Bo Yeon Kim & Erika Lippoldt
The writing duo have had a fast start since being selected for the CBS Writers’ Mentoring Program in 2015, landing as staff writers on The CW’s Reign before rising to executive story editors on Star Trek: Discovery. Perhaps what the franchise needs in a reboot is a couple of young, hungry sci-fi enthusiasts – not dissimilar to what the Duffers have done for Netflix with Stranger Things.
The Duffer Brothers
Speaking of the Stranger Things creators, why not the hottest showrunners around right now? They’ve certainly proven they can invoke a passionate response from their fans and play up the nostalgia factor. It’s hard to imagine any high-profile genre series not at least entertaining a pitch from Matt and Ross at this point.
Linda Ge | TV Editor