It’s been nearly two decades since the first instalment of Peter Jackson’s Oscar-winning Lord of the Rings film franchise, and judging from the recent success of The Hobbit trilogy, we still can’t get enough of seeing J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic fantasy works brought to life — whether on the silver or small screen…
Back in November 2017, Amazon Studios won the rights to produce at least five seasons of a Lord of the Rings TV series. And given the sheer volume of material about Middle Earth that Tolkien produced during his lifetime, Amazon could approach the series from a myriad of directions…
Here’s everything you need to know about Amazon’s Lord of the Rings TV series, including casting rumours, showrunner details and release date.
When is Lord of the Rings going to be released on Amazon Prime Video?
As part of the reported $250 million deal that Amazon struck, production on the series needs to start within two years — and given that they signed on the dotted line back in 2017, that means it’s likely that wheels will be set in motion in 2019.
How many seasons of Amazon’s Lord of the Rings will there be?
Amazon have also committed to five seasons as part of their rights deal.
What will the Amazon Lord of the Rings TV series be about?
*Update* – Amazon has revealed that the series will be set during the 3,441-year period before the events of The Fellowship of the Ring. In the JRR Tolkien timeline, this is known as the Age of Númenor, or the Second Age.
This means, unfortunately, that we probably won’t see many of the characters from the original series in it, as they weren’t around during this time.
3,441 years is quite a long time, so it’s not totally clear what part of the already established Tolkien lore we’ll be seeing. The rise of big bad ring-thief Sauron and the formation of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men takes place at the tail end of the Second Age, but there’s a whole lot of stuff that went on before that, which could be covered instead.
According to Den of Geek, the show’s writing team may decide to “chronicle the downfall of the fabled civilization of Man that Aragorn’s bloodline was descended from” – which would explain why it was originally rumoured that Aragorn’s past would play a part in the series.
The news seems to confirm, however, that very few of the characters we know and love from the original trilogy will make an appearance, as most were born in the Third Age (apart from various characters including Galadriel, Elrond and Gandalf, who were born or existed in spirit form as “Maiar” before the Second Age).
So, yep, that’s about three and a half thousand years worth of speculation as to what will go down in the series… Good thing we’ve got another couple of years until it’s released.
Will Peter Jackson be showrunner for Amazon’s Lord of the Rings?
The Oscar-winning director has confirmed he won’t be involved behind-the-scenes on the new series. Speaking with French publication Allocine, he said: “I’m not involved at all in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ series…I understand how my name could come up, but there is nothing happening with me on this project.”
Instead, the showrunners will be Star Trek 4 writers JD Payne and Patrick McKay. On their appointment, the pair released a joint statement stating that they were “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,” they added. “It is the beginning of the adventure of a lifetime.”
Who’s been cast in Amazon’s Lord of the Rings?
Nothing on casting as of yet — we’ll let you know when there is.
However, Ian McKellen, who played Gandalf in all six of the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit films, has expressed his interest in reprising his role for the TV series — sort of. During an interview on Graham Norton’s BBC radio show back in December 2017, Norton asked whether McKellen would be annoyed to see another actor playing Gandalf.
“What do you mean, another Gandalf?,” McKellen responded, before adding: “I haven’t said yes because I haven’t been asked. But are you suggesting that someone else is going to play it? Gandalf is over 7000 years old, so I’m not too old.”
What do Amazon’s Middle-earth maps mean?
The company may be keeping its cards close to its chest when it comes to actual announcements, but behind the scenes Amazon has quietly been paving the way for its landmark release.
The show’s Twitter feed, established in November 2018, has since February 2019 been linking to a series of online maps of Middle-earth.
Over the course of a number of messages, the maps have gradually been filled in – but what could it mean?
“I wisely started with a map,” the messages begin, a quote from Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien.
Sign up to the Radio Times newsletter for the latest TV and entertainment news