Amazon has found its Lord of the Rings duo.

The Hollywood Reporter released an article that following an extensive search, Amazon Studios has tapped JD Payne and Patrick McKay (Star Trek 4, Jungle Cruise) to develop its forthcoming big-budget take on Lord of the RingsJennifer Salke, who made the announcement Saturday during her debut as head of Amazon Studios at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour, stopped short of saying Payne and McKay would serve as writers or showrunners.

“The rich world that J.R.R. Tolkien created is filled with majesty and heart, wisdom and complexity,” longtime friends and writing partners Payne and McKay said in a joint 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.”
McKay and Payne met on the debate team in high school more than two decades ago. They wrote Paramount’s Star Trek 4 for producer J.J. Abrams and adapted Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt feature Jungle Cruise for Disney. The duo also set up their original 2017 Blacklist drama script Escape with Oscar-nominated producer Mike DeLuca.

Amazon, now overseen by new head of TV and film Jennifer Salke, landed global rights to the Lord of the Rings series for the small screen in November 2017 in what sources estimated was a deal worth $250 million with the Tolkien estate. Under the terms of the pact, a Lord of the Rings series must be in production within two years. When casting, set building and visual effects are factored in, the LOTR deal is expected to tally more than $1 billion.

In her first interview since moving from NBC to run Amazon, Salke told The Hollywood Reporter that the LOTR series would be “in production in two years, noting she hoped to have it on the air in 2021 despite wishes from other camps that it would make it by 2020.

“All of us would love a big, addictive show that is executed at the top of its game. We’re really excited about Lord of the Rings,” Salke told THR in June. “We’ve been talking to writers. We have an estate that’s very active. I’ve spent three hours with Simon Tolkien. There’s a lot of moving parts with it. We’ll have some game plan to move forward with very soon.”

We at Nerdbot are excited! Do you want to see a Lord of the Rings TV series? Does it excite you that Star Trek writers are at the helm? Tell us about it in the comments and get the conversation going!