Amazon's Lord of the Rings TV show is slated to have a whopping 20 episodes in its first season. The series will be a prequel, set before the events within J.R.R. Tolkien's first installment in his Rings trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring. Amazon Studios has already ordered the series for multiple seasons as part of the studio's commitment to creating more scripted content. Alongside the Rings series, Amazon has a slew of other projects in development, including The Dark Tower, Lazarus, Snow Crash, and Ringworld TV shows. Recently, the studio also released their televised adaptation of Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson's comic series The Boys, which has proven to be a massive success for the streaming platform.
The process of obtaining the rights for the series was not an easy one for Amazon Studios, as the series is only happening because Tolkien's son, Christopher, stepped down as director from the Tolkein Estate back in 2017. Before his retirement, the only time Christopher had sold his father's stories was the movie rights in 1969, but that all changed once someone new took charge of the estate. It wasn't long after this shift in power that the TV rights were sold, thereby producing the deal between Warner Bros. and Amazon. Nabbing the show was a massive win for Amazon's streaming service, as it's prompted many to believe that the series could turn out to be the next Game of Thrones.
As it turns out, Amazon is fully invested in making this series as big and bold as possible. So bold, that they're planning on having 20 episodes in their first season alone. Tom Shippey, a noted academic scholar on the works of Tolkien, shared in an interview with the German Tolkien Society that they're trying, "to bundle all the scenes that take place in one location and film them so that [the crew] have it done and don't have to return to that place several times." He went on to add that, "everything has to be clear at the start of filming," so they'd, "have to know the end." He concluded that, "there's supposed to be 20 episodes for the first season," and, "until they've decided what the end is going to be, they can't start filming." He also explained that Amazon only has rights to the Second Age, and that the, "First and Third Ages are 'off-limits'." Apparently, the narrative can mention events from these Ages, but if it's, "not described or mentioned in the Lord of the Rings or in the appendices, they probably cannot use it."
Expanding the series to 20 episodes is a bold move on Amazon's part, as it's more common in this era of television to have smaller episode counts. Even Game of Thrones stretched to 10 episodes for most of its run before dropping to 7 episodes and then 6 in its last couple of seasons. With the amount of time being invested in this project, and the amount of respect for the source material, it's sure to be a major hit for Amazon Studios regardless.
Amidst the competitive nature of streaming platforms, it's nice to see different studios dedicated to creating content that's worthy of a subscription. Amazon is the perfect example of a studio that's taking its time to create something incredible for its audiences. Especially with having the rights to something as major as The Lord of the Rings, they really have no choice but to pour their heart and soul into it to make it the best that it possibly can be.
Source: German Tolkien Society