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WIRE Buzz: Lord of the Rings series rings up Jurassic World director; Hunger Games nixes NYC

By Josh Weiss
J.A. Bayona

Welcome to another edition of WIRE Buzz, dear reader! In this roundup of top genre news, we've got updates on Amazon's Lord of the Rings TV series, Lionsgate's dystopian properties, Stranger Things-goes-Fortnite, and a long-running horror series from Japan.


Amazon's Lord of the Rings TV show has tapped Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom director J.A. Bayona to helm the first two episodes in the highly anticipated fantasy series, the streaming service announced Wednesday.

"J.R.R. Tolkien created one of the most extraordinary and inspiring stories of all time, and as a lifelong fan it is an honor and a joy to join this amazing team,” said Bayona in a statement. “I can’t wait to take audiences around the world to Middle-earth and have them discover the wonders of the Second Age, with a never-before-seen story.”

In addition to directing, Bayona is also executive-producing the project, which reportedly nabbed one of the most expensive TV production budgets in history. 

“The scope and breadth of J.A.’s world-building is exactly the right fit for our ambitions for The Lord of the Rings. He’s a passionate and collaborative director who has brought new stories to life with his multitalented producing partner, Belen,” added Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios.

JD Payne and Patrick McKay are writing the series, which is expected to premiere in 2021.


THR is reporting that Lionsgate will no longer be moving forward with its plans to install Hunger Games and Divergent-themed attractions in Manhattan's Times Square. The studio announced in 2017 that it would be bringing the two dystopian franchises to life via a partnership with Spanish leisure-park company Parques Reunidos. However, the latter entity has since decided "to take its corporate strategy in another direction."

Peeta's Bakery, Capitol Confectionery, a flying simulator, an obstacle course, and a John Wick: Chapter Two shooting ride were among the attractions for the now-scrapped midtown-based entertainment center.

Hunger Games theme park Lionsgate

Lionsgate is still pursuing an indoor theme park with Hunger Games and Divergent-themed installations in China, which will open July 31. The studio also has a movie-oriented amusement park in South Korea.


Based on a fresh landing page on Netflix's website, it looks as if the streaming titan will be delivering on an original series based on the Ju-On horror franchise from Japan, which spawned the lucrative Grudge films in America.

“The J-horror classic franchise Ju-On was actually based on real events that occurred over four decades — and the truth is even more terrifying," reads the site's description, which hints that the series could lean into its real-world beginnings rather than a highly fictionalized story.

Ju-On Netflix

According to unconfirmed reports (via Bloody Disgusting), Ju-On was quietly announced at a Netflix event in Japan last month, with Sho Miyake as director.

In addition, a Grudge "reboot" movie from director Nicolas Pesce opens next month. The project stars John Cho, Jackie Weaver, Betty Gilpin, and Demian Bichir.

SYFY WIRE has reached out to Netflix for comment.


Finally, Season 3 of Stranger Things debuts on Netflix tomorrow, but if you absolutely can't wait to get your Hawkins fix, just download and start playing Fortnite. The battle royale game contains a tie-in to the popular '80s-set show via the inclusion of tendriled Upside Down portals that can transport players from one point to another.

The inter-dimensional wormhole was discovered by JaredFPS, who posted a video of it on Twitter. Players can access the tears in space-time at the Mega-Mall, a location that fits in perfectly with the content of Season 3, which will heavily feature a new mall in Hawkins called Starcourt.

For the last two months or so, Fortnite has played digital host to another aspect of the upcoming season, the Scoops Ahoy ice cream parlor where Steve Harrington (Joe Keery) works for the summer with a new character, named Robin (Maya Hawke).

Unlike the last two seasons, Stranger Things 3 will take place over the summer. Find out what critics are saying about it here.