J.A. Bayona will direct the first two episodes of Amazon's Lord of the Rings TV series, which will (reportedly) partially film in New Zealand. As viewers enter the post-Game of Thrones epoch, cable networks and streamers are making an active bid to fill the void left by HBO's multi-million dollar behemoth. HBO itself will try to keep its success going with an as-yet untitled Game of Thrones spinoff from Jane Goldman, but it's not the only prequel series set thousands of years before a massive popular fantasy epic that's currently in the pipeline.
Amazon's Lord of the Rings TV show will take place in the Second Age of Middle-earth, or about 3,000 years before Frodo set out to destroy the One Ring (for those who aren't entirely fluent in their Tolkienese). JD Payne and Patrick McKay are overseeing a writers room on the series that's said to include Bryan Cogman (Game of Thrones) and Gennifer Hutchinson (Breaking Bad), and have a fittingly blockbuster-sized budget to draw from. And in an effort to make a show that's as visually striking as Peter Jackson's trilogy, they've reached out to A Monster Calls and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom helmsman Bayona to kick things off.
In a statement to Deadline, Bayona teased that “I can’t wait to take audiences around the world to Middle-earth and have them discover the wonders of the Second Age, with a never before seen story". A separate report from TNZH (h/t Winter is Coming) has further revealed that the Lord of the Rings TV series will be partly filmed in New Zealand, just like Jackson's trilogy. Potential filming locations include Auckland and Queenstown, with TNZH claiming that a "huge" amount of the show will be shot in the country overall.
Lord of the Rings won't be Bayona's first rodeo with television either, as the filmmaker previously called the shots on the first two episodes of Showtime's Penny Dreadful. And if his efforts on that gorgeously gothic horror series are any indication, then Middle-earth will be quite the visual spectacle - perhaps even on par with Jackson's movies - to behold in the upcoming Amazon series
It's also encouraging to hear that the show will try and deliver a "never before seen" story in Middle-earth. As beloved as the Lord of the Rings saga and its characters are, there's a whole lot of narrative potential in Tolkien's fantasy setting that remains untapped beyond his writing, and should give the Lord of the Rings TV series plenty to draw from without having to rehash what's been done so beautifully already.
The Lord of the Rings TV series doesn't have an official premiere date yet.