Netflix’s Pitch for Lord of the Rings Before Acquiring Rights to Narnia

Galadriel from The Rings of Power series.

Netflix pursued The Lord of the Rings in a bidding war with Amazon and HBO — before ultimately acquiring the rights to The Chronicles of Narnia the following year.

In February of 2017, the J.R.R. Tolkien estate began to entertain proposals for a Lord of the Rings series.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Netflix’s pitch was something akin to a Middle-earth Cinematic Universe:

Netflix pitched doing several shows, such as a Gandalf series and an Aragorn drama. “They took the Marvel approach,” said one insider to the talks, “and that completely freaked out the estate.”

Further, Netflix was prepared to pay $250 million for the rights to LotR:

Sources say the staggering number that’s been widely reported ($250 million) was actually Netflix’s bid and that Amazon’s number was tens of millions less (albeit, still staggering).

Since acquiring the rights to Narnia in 2018, news about Netflix’s adaptation has been far and few between.

In August of 2021, a source close to the production told NarniaWeb the project was still in active development. Here’s everything we know about Netflix’s Narnia.

Does Netflix’s pitch for Lord of the Rings suggest anything about their intentions with Narnia? Share your thoughts in the comments below or the discussion forums.

Thanks to Icarus for the head’s up.

5 Responses

  1. Icarus says:

    I think this story perfectly captures the predicament that the Narnia project finds itself in right now.

    Back in 2017/18 Netflix was a very different company; it’s share price was rocketing, they had complete market domination, and the senior leadership at the company were prepared to spend serious cash on expensive big-name prestige projects like LotR or Narnia.

    Fast-forwad just a few years though and the streaming market became flooded with competitors, the pandemic hit, and changes in the senior leadership at Netflix reportedly resulted in a change in corporate strategy to favour production on a higher volume of low-cost projects to create more content favoured by the algorithm in the hopes that this would sustain their subscriber growth.

    Narnia probably then started to move further and further down the priority list for the top-brass, and it’s likely that untill Netflix can sort out it’s current financial woes, Narnia might continue to find itself languishing in developmental limbo for a few more years yet.

    This story is also indicative to me of what Netflix’s intentions were at the time – they bid $250m for LotR, and after missing out they immediately turned around and bid $250m for Narnia. That signals to me an intention to compete directly with Amazon. And yet, while Amazon’s LotR show has cruised past the finish line already, Narnia is still stuck on the start-line with no progress to report on.

    Clearly if Netflix had stuck to their original plan, we’d be gearing up for a release very shortly, but that is obviously no longer the case. The plans unfortunately look like they changed long ago.

    • EJH says:

      It makes sense that they would originally have wanted to compete with Amazon, but I have doubts that Netflix can create a blockbuster from the Chronicles of Narnia because their most successful series have usually not been family friendly and now they no longer have the money to invest. They are also losing contracts. I like to watch the CW shows on Netflix like the Flash, but Netflix isn´t buying the rights to the newer series. It´s too bad because I like how Netflix has a wide variety of movies, documentaries, and television shows from around the world, as I have a hobby of studying other languages.

  2. Rogin says:

    I’m pretty convinced we’re not going to see these Netflix adaptations. anymore. It’s disappointing but ultimately, I don’t think Netflix was willing to go all-in on these books so I’m okay with it!

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