Here’s everything to know about Amazon’s ‘Lord of the Rings’
Lord of the Rings is one of the greatest and most beloved fantasy epics of all time. Of course, it exploded into the stratosphere of popularity with the release of the beloved Peter Jackson-directed version of Lord of the Rings. Even though The Hobbit films were less beloved than the trilogy, fans have been hungry to go back to Middle Earth.
This leads to the Amazon Studios’ Lord of the Rings series. The project is, largely, pretty mysterious. With new casting announced, let’s look at everything we know about the Lord of the Rings television series.
It’s the most expensive TV series ever made
Amazon’s Lord of the Rings will, reportedly, cost over $1 billion USD. In order to buy the rights to make this series, Amazon has to spend $250 million USD to beat Netflix, who was also interested in the project.
The large budget is going in for casting, production, visual effects, and other things. Still, this series will cost more to make than the Peter Jackson films. While Jackson’s films made $2.92 billion worldwide, they only cost about $281 million combined to make.
Also part of the deal with the Tolkien Trust is for a multi-season commitment to the series, reportedly five seasons. Amazon has agreed and has already renewed Lord of the Rings for a second season so to keep production moving along nicely. So, needless to say, Amazon has a lot riding on the success of this series.
What is the Lords of the Rings series about?
Don’t go expecting a new adaptation of The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings because that’s not what Amazon’s series is doing. Instead, the Lord of the Rings series is actually a prequel series. It takes place during the Second Age of Middle Earth.
What does that mean? Well, for context, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings takes place thousands of years after the Second Age. So we’re going way before the formation of the Fellowship. The One Ring, however, will probably make an appearance. The Second Age is notable for the creation of the One Ring and the Rings of Power.
The Second Age, for context, lasted about 3,441 years so there is a lot of years to cover in the series. As for plot specifics, we don’t really know. Given this is when the One Ring and the Rings of Power are created? We have an idea of where we’ll end up in the series.
Will we ever see characters from the Lords of the Rings materials we’re familiar with?
Short answer here is no. It’s not very likely.
The longer answer is also no, but we have reasons for it. Part of the deal for the series is that it won’t leave the Second Age. Why? Well, the Tolkien Trust doesn’t want anything to contradict with the better established Third Age, of which we’re all more familiar with.
Tolkien scholar and The Lord of the Rings consultant, John Shippey had this to say on the storytelling possibilities with this restriction on the series.
“But you can add new characters and ask a lot of questions, like: What has Sauron done in the meantime? Where was he after Morgoth was defeated? Theoretically, Amazon can answer these questions by inventing the answers, since Tolkien did not describe it. But it must not contradict anything which Tolkien did say. That’s what Amazon has to watch out for. It must be canonical, it is impossible to change the boundaries which Tolkien has created. It is necessary to remain ‘Tolkienian’.”
So it sounds like Amazon has a pretty tricky balancing act going on here.
Who’s involved and how many episodes are we getting?
According to Shippey, who talked with Indiewire about the upcoming series, Lord of the Rings will have a 20 episode first season. That’s a lot of episodes for a streaming service television show. Usually, if the season is that long, services will break it into “parts”. So we’ll have to see if that’s the case here if the episode count is correct.
JD Payne and Patrick McKay (Star Trek, Jungle Cruise, Flash Gordon) will write the pilot for the series and serve as executive producers and co-showrunners. J.A. Bayona (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, The Orphanage) will direct the first two episodes of the series.
Who’s cast in the series?
The cast is shaping up to be, well, a lot. It’s going to be a very large cast so we’re expecting the Second Age of Middle Earth to be pretty vast. The cast list for The Lord of the Rings television series was officially announced at the 2020 Winter Television Critics Association (TCA) Press Tour.
Robert Aramayo, Owain Arthur, Nazanin Boniadi, Tom Budge, Morfydd Clark, Ismael Cruz Córdova, Ema Horvath, Markella Kavenagh, Joseph Mawle, Tyroe Muhafidin, Sophia Nomvete, Megan Richards, Dylan Smith, Charlie Vickers, and Daniel Weyman will make up the cast for the series.
Production will reportedly begin in Feb. 2020 with table readings in New Zealand already underway for the series. Expect more casting announcements, however, as Vernon Sanders, Amazon co-head of TV, said, “We still have a few key roles to cast.”
When will The Lord of the Rings TV series come out?
We have no idea. The series was announced back in 2017, but Amazon is taking their time to make sure they get everything right. There are reports that the series will go on a 4-5 month hiatus after filming the first two episodes in order to plot out the second season of the series. We don’t know how true that is, but it’s something that is being said.
Given that filming will begin in Feb. 2020, we’re going to guess that sometimes in 2021 is when the first season of Lord of the Rings will be released.