After some speculation, Amazon announced Monday, November 13, 2017, that they have bought the global television rights to J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" fantasy trilogy. The series will be later be available through Amazon Prime, Amazon's shipping and video service.

The company did not announce how much they paid for the rights to the famed saga, but some speculate it was around $250 million. Amazon did confirm that The Tolkien Estate and Trust, HarperCollins, and New Line Cinema will assist in developing the series. New Line Cinema distributed the early 2000s "Lord of the Rings" films, which earned nearly $3 billion at the box office and 2017 Academy Awards.

Amazon original programming

Amazon first ventured into original content in 2010 with "Transparent," a show about a transgender father coming out to her family. Since then, Amazon has developed numerous television shows and movies. Recently, "Manchester by the Sea," an Amazon original film, was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The film won two awards, Best Original Screenplay and, controversially, Casey Affleck was awarded Best Actor for the film.

Despite the critical acclaim garnered by the media for the content on the streaming service, Amazon has had a difficult time gaining subscribers. The service has been able to attract A-list actors, but the subscribers do not seem to be as easily wooed by awards.

Their recent "Lord of the Rings" acquisition is clearly inspired by Game of Thrones, the popular television adaptation of George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" book series. By deviating from their usual programs, they're taking an expensive risk, but, with the popularity of this and similar franchises, it will likely generate income and subscribers for the service.

'Lord of the Rings' adaptations

Since the late 1960's, the "Lord of the Rings" has been adapted into numerous formats. A recording for The Library of Congress was taken in 1968 for the blind and physically handicapped. Several other recordings of the books followed. In a similar vein, the books have been produced as radio plays.

Tolkien famously criticized one of the BBC recordings, calling the performance of Tom Bombadil "dreadful." No known recordings of this radio play exist. The BBC later recorded another adapted radio play of the books.

Several video games, including the popular "Middle Earth" series, have been set in the world Tolkien created for the books. Earlier games included text-based adventure games and side-scrolling action games.

In addition to the early 2000's films, the books have been adapted for screen several times. An animated film adaptation was created in the late 1970's, and Swedish and Finnish television shows were produced in the 1970's and 1990's, respectively. Even with the many adaptations, Amazon's television adaptation is well on its way to become one of the most expensive "Lord of the Rings" installment in the franchise.