Just 17 years after the final instalment of Peter Jackson’s epic The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, Amazon have confirmed that a new TV series is currently in production. Here, we expose everything we know about this upcoming remake.
Peter Jackson’s take on Tolkien’s masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings, was a global triumph. Now, six movies, 21 Oscars, and 19 years later, we’re heading back to Middle-earth for a brand new Lord of the Rings TV series.
Amazon, Netflix and HBO had all been in talks for acquiring the rights to the new series. But in November 2017, Amazon finally signed a $250 million rights deal with the author’s estate. Plus publisher HarperCollins, and New Line Cinema to produce a multi-season show for television.
And if you think $250 million sounds like a lot, The Hollywood Reporter stated that the budget is set to be at least $1 billion. Thus making it the biggest in television history.
So with filming now well underway – and two episodes already in the bag. We’ve put together everything you need to know about Amazon’s billion-dollar adaption of Tolkien’s beloved Lord of the Rings.
Where is the series being filmed?
It’s been officially confirmed by showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, that filming will take place in New Zealand. This echos Jackson’s decision to film the movie counterparts there.
Payne and McKay said that New Zealand was the perfect place to reflect the “primordial beauty of the Second Age of Middle-earth”.
“We knew we needed to find somewhere majestic, with pristine coasts, forest and mountains, that is also a home to world-class sets, studios and highly skilled and experienced craftspeople and other staff,” they wrote. “And we’re happy to officially confirm New Zealand as our home for our series.”
“We are grateful to the people and the government of New Zealand and especially Auckland for supporting us during this pre-production phase. The abundant measure of Kiwi hospitality with which they have welcomed us has already made us feel right at home. And we are looking forward to deepening our partnership in the years to come.”
Whilst this is good news for New Zealand and fans of the original Lord of the Rings films, it’s bad news for Scotland. Where it was speculated that filming could take place. According to The Guardian, “uncertainty over Brexit saw [Scotland] fall out of favour with Amazon”.
When is the Lord of the Rings TV series due to air?
Production on Amazon’s upcoming Lord of the Rings TV series was halted in early 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The closure came one month after the series started filming. And after New Zealand instituted protective immigration measures to protect the country from the Coronavirus. This included 14 days of compulsory self-isolation for citizens and visitors entering the country.
Thankfully, Amazon’s Lord of the Rings TV series was among several projects that had been granted a border exemption by New Zealand. The series’ crew aimed to resume filming in September. The Hollywood Reporter confirmed in December that production is well underway.
Prior to these delays, it was thought that a December 2021 release date was in the pipeline (which would have made sense pre-pandemic). Now though, due to these unforeseen circumstances, no official date has yet been released.
Have any of the cast members been confirmed?
A number of cast members for Amazon’s Lord of the Rings TV series have now been officially announced.
“After undertaking an extensive global search, we are delighted finally to reveal the first group of brilliant performers who will take part in Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings series,” said showrunners Payne and McKay in January 2020.
“These exceptionally talented women and men are more than just our actors: they are the newest members of an ever-expanding creative family that is now working tirelessly to bring Middle-earth to life anew for fans and audiences worldwide.”
Robert Aramayo (Game of Thrones), Owain Arthur (The Patrol), Nazanin Boniadi (Homeland), and Maxim Baldry (Doctor Who) are among the leading stars, supported by the likes of:
- Tom Budge (Judy & Punch)
- Morfydd Clark (His Dark Materials) – rumoured to be playing a young Galadriel
- Ismael Cruz Córdova (The Mandalorian)
- Ema Horvath (What Lies Below)
- Markella Kavenagh (Romper Stomper) – rumoured to be playing a character named Tyra
- Joseph Mawle (Game of Thrones) – rumoured to be playing Oren, the series’ lead villain
- Tyroe Muhafidin (Treasure Maps and Tinned Spaghetti)
- Megan Richards (Wanderlust)
- Dylan Smith (Total Recall)
- Charlie Vickers (Medici)
- Sophia Nomvete
Plus, just this month (December 2020), Amazon released the details of another 20 cast members:
- Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Entourage)
- Ian Blackburn (Shelter)
- Kip Chapman (Top of the Lake)
- Anthony Crum (The Wilds)
- Maxine Cunliffe (Power Rangers Megaforce)
- Trystan Gravelle (Mr Selfridge)
- Sir Lenny Henry (Doctor Who)
- Thusitha Jayasundera (Humans)
- Fabian McCallum (You, Me and the Apocalypse)
- Simon Merrells, (Knightfall)
- Geoff Morrell (Top of the Lake)
- Peter Mullan (Westworld)
- Lloyd Owen (Cleaning Up)
- Augustus Prew (Prison Break)
- Peter Tait (Underworld: Rise of the Lycans) – previously portrayed Shagrat, a Black Uruk (Orc) in The Return of the King
- Alex Tarrant (Mean Mums)
- Leon Wadham (The Bad Seed)
- Benjamin Walker (Jessica Jones)
- Sara Zwangobani (Home and Away)
Although we now know the names of a number of actors set to appear in the series, Amazon are remaining tight-lipped about the characters that many of these cast members will play.
Will the new LOTR TV series be set in the same time period as the films?
No – the Lord of the Rings TV series will explore an era of Tolkien’s world that hasn’t been recreated on film before. The fabled second age of Middle-Earth.
When the series was originally announced, there was an assumption that it would just be a retelling of the trilogy of books: essentially a TV remake of Jackson’s films.
Another rumour was that the series would center on a young Aragorn (portrayed by Viggo Mortensen in the films).
But when Middle-earth maps posted by Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings Twitter profile (@LOTRonPrime) showed lands that would’ve only existed long before Aragorn’s time, it was clear this series would be based in a period far earlier. (Although the show will feature the island of Númenor, the home of Aragorn’s ancestors.)
Thus, it has now been confirmed that it’ll actually be a prequel series, set thousands of years before the time period in both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings novels.
The second age
So while Amazon’s LOTR TV series will be based on Tolkien’s source material, the show will explore new storylines that occur before the events of The Fellowship of the Ring.
According to Tolkien scholar and The Lord of the Rings consultant Tom Shippey, the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien has refused to grant Amazon permission to film anything other than the Second Age, so as not to alter the history of the more fleshed out Third Age. “But you can add new characters and ask a lot of questions, like: What has Sauron done in the meantime? Where was he after Morgoth was defeated? Theoretically, Amazon can answer these questions by inventing the answers, since Tolkien did not describe it,” Shippey explained. “But it must not contradict anything which Tolkien did say. That’s what Amazon has to watch out for. It must be canonical, it is impossible to change the boundaries which Tolkien has created. It is necessary to remain ‘Tolkienian’.”
For reference, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings novels are set thousands of years after the Second Age, toward the end of the Third Age. The Second Age, on the other hand, is most notable for being the time period when Sauron created the One Ring.
If you’re wondering how much ground can be covered in a series with the Second Age as its setting, the Second Age spans a time period of 3,441 years.
Are there any famous writers/producers working on the project?
Writers J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay will act as co-showrunners on the new series. Speaking of their appointment, they said in a joint statement: “We feel like Frodo, setting out from the Shire, with a great responsibility in our care. It is the beginning of the adventure of a lifetime.”
Joining them as a consultant is Bryan Cogman, who was responsible for writing some of Game of Thrones’ best episodes.
Also announced to be writing episodes for the Lord of the Rings TV show are Gennifer Hutchinson (Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul), Helen Shang (Hannibal), Justin Dohle (Stranger Things), and Stephany Folsom (Toy Story 4).
According to Amazon Studios chief, Jennifer Salke, the writer’s room is ‘working under lock and key’. “They’re already generating really exciting material. They’re down in Santa Monica. You have to go through such clearance, and they have all their windows taped closed. And there’s a security guard that sits outside, and you have to have a fingerprint to get in there because their whole board is up on a thing of the whole season.”
J.A. Bayona (director of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) will helm the first two episodes of the first season, and will act as an executive producer.
Behind the scenes there are also a number of other noteworthy persons, including costume designer Kate Hawley (Edge of Tomorrow, Suicide Squad), production designer Rick Heinrichs (Sleepy Hollow, Star Wars: The Last Jedi), and visual effects supervisor Jason Smith (Super 8, Avengers). Concept artist John Howe, who worked on Jackson’s epic trilogy, will also have the same position on the show.
“This team is our Fellowship,” Payne and McKay said in a statement. “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.”
Will any of the characters we know feature in the new LOTR TV series?
Due to the period that Amazon’s TV series will cover, there are only a few characters from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy alive at this point.
Morfydd Clark (one of the actresses confirmed to be working on the show) is rumoured to be playing a young Galadriel. Galadriel was born in Valinor during the Years of the Trees – before the First Age had even begun. Considering Amazon’s series takes place in the Second Age, Galadriel is definitely a character that could feature.
Like Galadriel and the race of elves, wizards also have a lengthy lifespan. Sir Ian McKellen – who played Gandalf in Jackson’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogies – has said that no other actor could play the wise wizard. “What do you mean, another Gandalf?” McKellen told Graham Norton when asked whether someone could take over the role. “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.”
But, although Gandalf is alive during the Second Age, he only arrived in Middle-earth during the Third Age. A period which Amazon is not allowed to explore. So, unless Amazon intends on featuring lands and realms outside of Middle-earth, Gandalf will almost certainly not be featured.
But The Lord of the Rings main nemesis, Sauron, was most definitely alive and creating the One Ring in Middle-earth during the Second Age, so this is certainly a storyline which Amazon could explore.
How many seasons will there be?
Amazon has committed to producing five seasons, with rumours suggesting that the first season will consist of 20 episodes.
Although we could still be over a year away from Amazon’s LOTR TV series, what we’ve heard thus far is certainly exciting.
We echo the words of John Rhys-Davies (who played Gimli in Jackson’s epics) who, when asked what he thought about the new Lord of the Rings TV series, said: “There are so many other histories attached to it and it’s the pre-history and the pre-setting of Middle Earth that Amazon is going to be doing and I wish them well for it. I think a great storyteller’s stories should all be told if they will hold up.”
What do you think about Amazon’s upcoming Lord of the Rings TV series? Are there any actors or actresses you’re pleased to see? Or any you would’ve cast? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below.
More of our Lord of the Rings articles HERE.
Read IMDB information on The Lord of the Rings TV show HERE.
Loki Episode 6 – Review
Episode six of Loki from Marvel is here, streaming now on Disney Plus. It’s time for the series finale. Here’s our review.
SPOILERS: If you’re reading this then you’ve probably seen the show, but if not there are spoilers ahead.
More to come
The post-credit scene showed that a second series has already been ordered, meaning this finale is essentially the end of Part One. Thank goodness it is. Because if this was the denouement of the entire Loki story then there’s a good chance it would go down in television infamy as one of the more unusual series endings.
Introducing the big bad
We pick up from Sylvie and Loki’s defeat of The Alioth as they look at the citadel upon the rock at the end of time. They make their way to the entrance, and upon being invited in they’re met by Miss Minutes. It’s been widely predicted that ‘she’ would be an agitator in this series. And at last her role has been revealed. She is an emissary of Kang The Conquerer, embedded within the TVA.
She offers Loki the earth, almost literally, as she tries to coax him to betray Sylvie. Her offers of infinity stones, defeating Thanos etc. Happily, Loki rejects all the trinkets that she offers. Instead, he and Sylvie head into the lift where they meet ‘He Who Remains’ aka Kang The Conquerer. A 31st-century scientist and the true timekeeper.
Sylvie attempts to kill him but he quickly demonstrates some of his powers by dodging and weaving her before she gives in and the three of them sit down for a very long discussion. To sum up what was a lengthy and occasionally fairly tedious scene. He Who Remains (HWR) asks Loki and Sylvie to kill him and take over the role of controlling the timeline. Loki is extremely reticent but Sylvie, angry at what HWR’s meddling has done to her life, is desperate to do so.
Meanwhile, back at TVA HQ, Renslayer is informed by Miss Minutes of HWR’s plan. Showing her dual role and playing on Renslayer’s desperation to keep the TVA active and relevant.
Loki and Sylvie get into a physical fight over what to do with HWR. With Loki recognising how the timeline will fragment with branches springing up all over the place. But Sylvie is consumed by her rage and eventually overpowers Loki, sending him back to the TVA and then kills He Who Remains.
Setting up season two
Loki finds Mobius and tries to explain what has happened. But then discovers the terrible effects of what Sylvie has done by apparently killing HWR. Mobius has no idea who Loki is. This situation is then made worse when Loki looks out to see a statue of He Who Remains adorning TVA HQ. Loki realises that he is in a different timeline branch. One where HWR or Kang is in control of everything. Sylvie has been manipulated into apparently killing him which has enabled him to increase his power further.
Jonathan Majors was masterful as He Who Remains. Which is what you’d expect from someone with a Masters in acting from Yale. He was flamboyant, powerful and mesmerising, which is exactly what you want from a major villain. He will be back in AntMan 3 as Kang The Conquerer and is set to be the key villain in the next phase of the MCU post-Endgame and Thanos.
I have been extremely positive about this series, as I think it has been the strongest and most cohesive of the Marvel series so far this year. But I can’t disagree with anyone who felt short-changed by this finale. My 11-year-old son was pretty vocal in his disappointment the moment the credits rolled, and he was absolutely right. He is one of the most obsessive Marvel fans around and if he was underwhelmed, I feel pretty sure he was reflecting the majority view. Nothing I’ve seen online since has dissuaded me from that either.
Phase 4 groundwork
It seemed that the finale was essentially an exercise in introducing He Who Remains or Kang to our screens ahead of AntMan 3. While this isn’t necessarily a problem, it meant that the focus shifted away from being the climax of this series. Instead of being a prologue for the next phase of the MCU, which does seem a peculiar decision.
There are those who feel that the series original premise of Loki and Mobius teaming up to find Variants dotted around time and space was dropped after the first two episodes. Instead, it was replaced with a love story between Sylvie and Loki and a voyage of discovery with Mobius reduced to a bit part for the rest of the series.
But, the cliffhanger at the end of the series as Loki returns to the TVA does give me hope that Series Two will be an even better follow up.
CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 6/10
Thank you for reading our review of Loki episode six. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
Read our Loki episode five review HERE.
Read IMDB information about Loki HERE.
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