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. We’ll be updating this page as soon as new information arrives!
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When is Lord of the Rings going to be released on Amazon Prime Video?
According to Amazon Studios boss Jennifer Salke, production on the series will begin in 2020 – although with the sheer scale of the drama, it could be a while before it makes it onto screens.
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.
Who are the creative team behind Amazon’s Lord of the Rings?
Amazon announced in July 2019 that Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom director JA Bayona will helm the first two episodes of the series. He will also serve as an executive producer, alongside his partner Belén Atienza.
They join Star Trek 4 writers JD Payne and Patrick McKay, who will serve as co-showrunners. 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.”
Game of Thrones writer and co-executive producer Bryan Cogman will also be consulting on the series. After starting out as David Benioff and DB Weiss’s assistant, Cogman went on to write various episodes of the HBO fantasy drama, including season one’s ‘Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things’, season three’s ‘Kissed by Fire’ and episode two of the eighth season, ‘A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms’.
The full LoTR creative team was later confirmed in July 2019, with Lindsey Weber (10 Cloverfield Lane), Bruce Richmond (Game of Thrones), Gene Kelly (Boardwalk Empire) and Amazon’s former head of genre, Sharon Tal Yguado, all executive producing.
Writer/executive producers also include Gennifer Hutchison (Breaking Bad), Jason Cahill (The Sopranos) and Justin Doble (Stranger Things).
And the series has nabbed Star Wars: The Last Jedi’s Rick Heinrichs as their production designer and Kate Hawley (Suicide Squad) to design costumes.
Will Peter Jackson be involved in 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.”
Who’s been cast in Amazon’s Lord of the Rings?
Nothing official 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 7,000 years old, so I’m not too old.”
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Meanwhile, Orlando Bloom – who played Legolas in the films – has all but ruled himself out, telling Entertainment Tonight: “I don’t know where I would fit in now in that world. If I think you’re saying [I’d come back] as Legolas, they probably got a 19-year-old kid.”
Likewise Andy Serkis, who told /Film that there are “no plans for [him] to be involved in it at all” as Gollum/Smeagol. “I’m really excited that there’s going to be an Amazon TV version of it,” Serkis said. “I think it’s a world that will continue to be explored.”
As for who will star, the only news to leak so far is that of Australian actress Markella Kavenagh who The Hollywood Reporter say is playing a character named Tyra, although Amazon declined to comment on the casting.
Where is Amazon’s Lord of the Rings series filmed?
While Amazon has not confirmed filming locations yet, reports in New Zealand suggest that the nation will once again be the stand-in for JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth.
According to RNZ, very “high-level talks” between Amazon and NZ government officials after the Christchurch terrorist attack in March 2019 have led to the confirmation that the country will play host to the production.
They’ve even gone as far as to suggest that pre-production is already underway in at the Auckland Film Studios and the Kumeu Film studios (also in Auckland). Good news for Tourism New Zealand, then…
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.