Amazon Prime Video’s in-development series on JRR Tolkien’s seminal fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings is one of the hottest topics of conversation in pop culture right now.
We have all seen the fantasy genre really blowing up with HBO’s Game of Thrones, which concluded earlier this year. The Lord of the Rings series then appears to be Amazon’s attempt at making a fantasy production that can evoke a similar response. And they are serious about it. They bought the rights from Tolkien Estate for an incredible 250 million dollars.
Tolkien’s book has been adapted before by Peter Jackson as a trilogy of films in early 2000s. It became a humongous sensation that surprised even the biggest cynics. It was hugely successful both critically and commercially and changed the film landscape. The third film alone won 11 Oscars, equaling the record for most Academy Awards for a single film set by Ben-Hur and Titanic.
Here is everything we know so far about the Lord of the Rings series.
The aesthetics and feel will be different: Despite New Line Cinema being involved, we can be sure the series will be a lot different in terms of its feel and aesthetic aspects. New Line is Warner Bros’ sister studio and has produced Middle-earth films (including the Hobbit trilogy). The showrunners of the series are going to try to distinguish the series so that it does not feel like an extension of the films.
It will not be a direct adaptation: Tolkien did not just write a story, he build an intricately detailed world called the Middle-earth with its own peoples, races, culture, pantheon of gods, and so on (while taking help from real-world stuff). He also created entire languages (he was also a philologist) from scratch with their own grammar. Thus, there is a lot more to explore than just Frodo Baggins’ story. Amazon’s press release talked about “previously unexplored stories based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s original writings”.
It will be set in the Second Age: The LOTR films were set at the end of the Third Age of Middle-earth. As the War of the Ring ended, the Third Age came to a close and the Age of Men dawned. Amazon’s LOTR is said to be set in the Second Age. Rumours suggest it will be about a young Aragorn or the forging of the rings themselves by Sauron.
It may also be based on the Last Alliance of Elves and Men in which Dark Lord Sauron was defeated for the first time. The teases by Amazon are pretty vague and we cannot say for sure what part of Middle-earth’s history the series will take its matter from. But we do believe Sauron will be involved, and not just as a giant eye but in his corporeal form.
And with Sauron will be his trusty Nazguls, the fearsome creatures that may have inspired Harry Potter’s Dementors. We may also see some familiar characters like Elrond and Galadriel though likely not the same actors.
It will be the most expensive TV show ever: A report in The Hollywood Reporter said Amazon’s Lord of the Rings may cost up to 1 billion dollars, making it the most expensive TV show ever. This is incredible and we can probably expect HBO-level production values.
Here is the creative team: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom director J.A. Bayona is the latest entrant to the creative team involved with the production. JD Payne and Patrick McKay will be the showrunners. Gennifer Hutchison and Bryan Cogman (a scribe on Game of Thrones) complete the fellowship.
The series has to start production before the end of 2020. We can expect it to release the following year.