Even though Peter Jackson pretty much nailed it with his big-screen trilogy, Amazon Prime is mounting another adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings novels. We’ve already seen that story told perfectly on the screen, but there are a couple of key differences with Amazon’s version.
For starters, they’re making it as a serialized TV series as opposed to a movie trilogy. Also, there are a number of subplots and character arcs that Jackson left out, and this new version will have the chance to adapt them for the first time. Here is Everything We Know (So Far) About Amazon’s Lord Of The Rings Series.
10 It’s set before The Fellowship of the Ring
A common misconception about Amazon’s new Lord of the Rings show is that it will simply retell the story that Peter Jackson already told. However, it will actually unearth all the backstory and mythology that J.R.R. Tolkien wrote about the events that took place prior to The Fellowship of the Ring and explore those stories instead.
The official press released that Amazon sent out to announce the series also mentioned that “previously unexplored stories based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s original writings” would be used as a basis for the new series. So, it isn’t just a straight re-adaptation of what Jackson already did perfectly.
9 It’ll be the most expensive TV series ever made
It’s been reported that Amazon’s Lord of the Rings show will be the most expensive TV series of all time, with the streaming giant digging so deep into their pockets that they’re investing at least $1 billion on the production of the first season alone.
This will make it the biggest-budgeted TV show by far, since the previous record holder was Netflix’s The Crown, which set the record at $157 million. Amazon’s budget for The Lord of the Rings will be more than six times this amount, so it’ll probably be a long time before that record is broken again.
8 Amazon outbid Netflix for the rights
When the Tolkien estate was first selling off the rights to a Lord of the Rings TV series, Netflix and Amazon Prime found themselves in a bidding war for the rights.
In the end, Amazon managed to put up more money than Netflix was willing to, and it’s easy to see why this could’ve been a difficult decision: Amazon ended up forking out $250 million for the rights. Just the rights! A whole Avengers movie could’ve been made for that amount. So, naturally, Amazon is pretty hopeful that their Lord of the Rings series will be a Game of Thrones-level success.
7 There’s going to be at least five seasons
Most TV series are developed as a pilot episode, and then as a full season if the pilot gets picked up. Multiple seasons aren’t usually planned until well into the run when the network starts to ask the showrunners what the endgame is (this happened with Lost during season 3 and meant that the writers could plan up to season 6’s ending).
However, Amazon has such faith in The Lord of the Rings series they’re developing that it’s been planned to last for at least a few seasons from the beginning, with five contractually obligated seasons of the show being fleshed out simultaneously.
6 It might have spin-offs
Back in the days of Joey and The Cleveland Show and After M*A*S*H, TV spin-offs were thought to be an unworkable idea. A spin-off show that was actually successful, like Frasier, was a diamond in the rough.
However, in the past few years, spin-offs have become more commonplace. Every popular series seems to either have a spin-off in development, like Game of Thrones, or already have one on the air: Better Call Saul, Fear the Walking Dead, The Originals et al. Amazon has stated that the deals for their Lord of the Rings series have included the potential for spin-offs.
5 The Tolkien estate is limiting how much Amazon can change
Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy made a number of changes to the novels – some made the story better, others made it worse – but apparently, the Tolkien estate is putting restrictions on what Amazon can change from the books. The measures seem to have been taken to avoid a bastardization in the vein of Disney’s Star Wars sequel trilogy.
According to the agreement, Amazon is allowed to fill in the blanks in the history of Middle-earth that Tolkien himself didn’t outline, but they will have to honor the canon as written and make no changes to the established story.
4 J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay have been hired as showrunners
According to IMDb, J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay has been hired as showrunners, head writers, and executive producers for Amazon’s Lord of the Rings series. This will be the pair’s big break, but it’s hardly their first high-profile Hollywood gig.
They were hired to write the fourth movie in the Star Trek Kelvin Timeline series for Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto before it was canned, and they also wrote an early draft of the Flash Gordon reboot that has now been taken over by Thor: Ragnarok’s Taika Waititi, who will finally “crack” the reboot by helming it as an animated film.
3 The show has assembled a “Fellowship” full of talent
Some talented writers and producers have been hired to work on Amazon’s Lord of the Rings series, including Toy Story 4’s Stephany Folsom, Stranger Things’ Justin Doble, The Sopranos’ Jason Cahill, Breaking Bad’s Gennifer Hutchison, and Game of Thrones’ Bruce Richmond and Bryan Cogman.
Showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay wrote of their team: “This team is our Fellowship – assembled from around the world, all walking the road together to try and accomplish something far greater than any of us could on our own. We feel humbled and extremely lucky to be surrounded by such inspiring and talented women and men.”
2 J.A. Bayona will direct the first two episodes
J.A. Bayona, best known for the Spanish horror film The Orphanage, has signed on to direct the first two episodes of Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings series. Last year, Bayona directed Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, which disappointed a lot of fans and critics, but it was hardly his fault.
The movie had some serious structural problems, cramming two movies into one and condensing each one to the length of half a movie, and also dumb storylines like the cloned girl who releases dinosaurs into civilized society because she felt a kindred spirit with them – but that was the script’s problem, not Bayona’s.
1 It might be about Sauron’s rise to power
It’s been reported that Amazon’s Lord of the Rings show will take place in the Second Age, but that period was 3,441 years long, so it’s hardly specific. However, we can gather a vague idea of what Amazon’s show will be about from the fact that the Second Age ended with Sauron being defeated and order being restored in Middle-earth.
The Second Age was depicted in a prologue in Peter Jackson’s trilogy, showing the fall of Sauron, so it stands to reason that Amazon is making a show that will instead show Sauron’s initial rise to power, which would be an interesting story worth telling.