Everything We Know about Amazon’s Lord of the Rings Series So FarPhoto Courtesy of Amazon TV Features The Lord of the Rings
Amazon has been making a huge push into fantasy TV, led by an eyebrow-raisingly ambitious television adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings novels, which of course were already adapted into director Peter Jackson’s blockbuster film trilogy. Here’s everything we know so far about Amazon’s forthcoming series:
Release date and renewal status:
We officially have a release date, which is Friday, September 2nd, 2022. The show has also been renewed ahead of its premiere for a second season, so it’s safe to watch the first season without fear of an abrupt cancellation.
At SDCC, Stephen Colbert hosted Prime Video’s Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power panel, and unveiled a full trailer to Hall H. The trailer, which features stunning visuals and impressive Middle-Earth landscapes, also teases the looming presence of Sauron as well as familiar (albeit younger) faces, specifically in Morfydd Clark’s Galadriel, picking up the mantle from Cate Blanchett in the films.
Where it Fits in the Canon
According to the synopsis, the series is officially a prequel, taking place prior to the Peter Jackson films in the Second Age. The official synopsis reads:
Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power brings to screens for the very first time the heroic legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history. This epic drama is set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and will take viewers back to an era in which great powers were forged, kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin, unlikely heroes were tested, hope hung by the finest of threads, and the greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness. Beginning in a time of relative peace, the series follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth. From the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains, to the majestic forests of the elf-capital of Lindon, to the breathtaking island kingdom of Númenor, to the furthest reaches of the map, these kingdoms and characters will carve out legacies that live on long after they are gone.
In November 2017, Amazon reportedly paid $250 million for the rights to a The Lord of the Rings series, which, when produced, could sport a $1-billion price tag. The deal was struck by the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema, and came with a multi-season commitment, said to be good for five seasons, and a potential spinoff, as THR reported at the time.
THR also reported this April that Amazon Studios had outbid streaming rival Netflix to close the $250-million deal, which stipulates that Amazon must be in production on a Lord of the Rings series within two years (which…). The deal also permits the series to use footage from the New Line films.
Amazon head Jeff Bezos was personally involved in making the deal happen, having told since-ousted Amazon Studios head Roy Price last September to create the next Game of Thrones. Price quit the company the following month, before the deal went public, after allegations of sexual misconduct. Two other embattled Hollywood execs, Bob and Harvey Weinstein, were profit participants on the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, having owned the Tolkien film rights through Miramax before they were sold to New Line in 1998, but it does not seem likely that they will claim profits on the forthcoming series.
Cast and Crew
John D. Payne and Patrick McKay, who also wrote the forthcoming Star Trek 4, are the showrunners, tapped to write and develop the series. The full creative team includes executive producers Lindsey Weber (10 Cloverfield Lane), Bruce Richmond (Game of Thrones), Gene Kelly (Boardwalk Empire) and Sharon Tal Yguado; writer/executive producer Gennifer Hutchison (Breaking Bad); writer/executive producer Jason Cahill (The Sopranos) writer/executive producer Justin Doble (Stranger Things); consulting producers Bryan Cogman (Game of Thrones) and Stephany Folsom (Toy Story 4); producer Ron Ames (The Aviator); writer/co-producer Helen Shang (Hannibal), and writing consultant Glenise Mullins.
Also announced were costume designer Kate Hawley (Suicide Squad); Academy Award-winning production designer Rick Heinrichs (Star Wars: The Last Jedi); Academy Award-winning visual effects supervisor Jason Smith (The Revenant); Tolkien scholar Tom Shippey; and renowned illustrator/concept artist John Howe.
Amazon revealed in early July 2019 that Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom director J.A. Bayona was been tapped to direct the series’ first two episodes in addition to executive producing alongside his producing partner Belén Atienza.
Casting began shortly after Bayona signed on, with Markella Kavenagh, Will Poulter and Joseph Mawle coming aboard in key roles over the next few months. Though Amazon hasn’t revealed any official details of their characters, it’s reported that Kavenagh and Poulter are playing two lead characters named Tyra and Beldor, respectively, with Mawle as a villain named Oren. (Later, Poulter reportedly dropped out of the project due to scheduling conflicts.)
In January of 2020, Amazon confirmed the series’ main cast, which in addition to Mawle and Kavenagh includes: Robert Aramayo, Morfydd Clark, Ema Horvath, Owain Arthur, Nazanin Boniadi, Tom Budge, Morfydd Clark, Ismael Cruz Córdova, Tyroe Muhafidin, Sophia Nomvete, Megan Richards, Dylan Smith, Charlie Vickers and Daniel Weyman. Maxim Baldry then joined the cast in early March.
Then, in December of 2020, Amazon announced additional cast members: Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Maxim Baldry, Ian Blackburn, Kip Chapman, Anthony Crum, Maxine Cunliffe, Trystan Gravelle, Sir Lenny Henry, Thusitha Jayasundera, Fabian McCallum, Simon Merrells,? Geoff Morrell, Peter Mullan, Lloyd Owen, Augustus Prew, Peter Tait, Alex Tarrant, Leon Wadham, Benjamin Walker and Sara Zwangobani.
Amazon Studios has also announced that British Chinese director Wayne Che Yip has joined the team as a director and co-executive producer of the project. The Lord of the Rings television series is currently filming in New Zealand, where Yip is set to direct four episodes after Bayona’s initial two. Yip is known for his work on Hunters, Preachers, Utopia, and Doctor Who.
Check out the official cast list:
Rob Aramayo as Elrond
Owain Arthur as Durin IV
Sophia Nomvete as Disa
Ben Walker as Gil-galad
Lloyd Owen as Elendil
Leon Wadham as Kemen
Morfydd Clark as Galadriel
Nazanin Boniadi as Bronwyn
Charlie Vickers as Halbrand
Markella Kavenagh as Elanor “Nori” Brandyfoot
Dylan Smith as Largo Brandyfoot
Tyroe Muhafidin as Theo
Charles Edwards as Celebrimbor
Cynthia Addai-Robinson as Miriel
Ema Horvath as Earien
Ismael Cruz Cordova as Arondir
Daniel Weyman as The Stranger
Maxim Baldry as Isildur
Trystan Gravelle as Pharazon
Megan Richards as Poppy Proudfellow
Sara Zwangobani as Marigold Brandyfoot
Keep your Sauron-like eye trained on this space for further updates.
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