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.
10 Years Of Game Of Thrones
Since it first aired on 17 April 2011, Game of Thrones has captured the imagination of many fans from start to finish. But, after the lacklustre and rushed ending of this epic fantasy series in 2019, we find ourselves wondering: has its legacy been completely ruined? After 10 years is it worth looking again at the legacy of Game of Thrones? After all, like the fallen Ned Stark once said: “some old wounds never truly heal, and bleed again at the slightest word”.
Have Game of Thrones fan’s been hit too hard by the hurried and unjust ending? Are there storylines and characters within the eight seasons that make up for the less than favourable ending?
After looking back through the seasons, below are what we think are some of the best and most redeeming moments and characters within the series. These could be the reason why fans stay loyal to Game of Thrones and even get excited about future prequels or sequels. We already have next year’s Game of Thrones – House of Dragons series to expect.
WARNING: Only read on if you have watched the entire series as there are spoilers.
Sansa Stark becomes Queen of the North
We ended the series with Winterfell once again being led by a member of the House of Stark. Queen Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), who regained The North as an independent Kingdom. This decision from the writers is easily the most satisfying conclusion to come out of the finale. And easily one of the best beginning to end character arcs in all Game of Thrones.
Starting out as quite an unfavourable character and the least liked Stark of the pack, mainly due to her spoiled and brattish behaviour. Sansa ended up being the character we were all rooting for. Especially when it came to regaining the north and standing her ground with Daenerys Targaryen – “What about the North”.
But it wasn’t an easy road for her to get to that point. She had to endure a lot of horrific scenes, storylines, and marriages which shaped her character from a little bird to a Queen. But as Sansa said herself, whilst talking to The Hound/Sandor Clegane (Rory McCann), “Without Little Finger and Ramsey and the rest I would have stayed a little bird all my life”. We’re glad she didn’t stay a little bird and became the Queen the North.
Arya Stark kills the Night King
When it came to the death of the Night King there were only a handful of characters who could do the deed. But, if you were anything like us, we had our money firmly on Jon Snow (Kit Harington). But, it was his kick-ass little sister, Arya Stark (Masie Williams), that ended the long night. With a fatal blow to the Night King’s heart with her Valyrian Steel Dagger.
In this episode, there was hardly any dialogue, especially in the last 30 minutes, which made the whole cinematography of the final scenes so much more poignant. From the camera angles to the incredible score which was accompanied only by sound effects and the odd fighting shout of pain. It left us in suspense and just as we thought all hope was lost, as the Night King approached Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) and fans started to believe that Game of Thrones was going to take another huge twist, winter was here to stay. Out came our hero from the dark, the epic shot where Arya was flying through the air will always be one of our all-time favourites.
The night before winter came
Another part of the final series that I think deserves some props, was episode two (mainly the last 30ish minutes). This episode was the calm before the storm. But it was also very well done, from this point, as a viewer we didn’t really know who was going to survive and who was going to die. Something that we were never sure with when watching Game of Thrones.
We managed to get some nice send-off scenes for most of the characters which kept the suspense alive. We saw Sansa and Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) meet again, Arya and Gendry (Joe Dempsie) finally ‘get together’ but most notably there was a comical and heart-warming meeting by the fire with Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), Brienne of Tarth (Gwendolin Christie), Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju), Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) and Podrick Payne (Daniel Portman).
There were jokes, Brienne got knighted and we even got a song from Podrick. Which was made into a satisfying montage for other characters around Winterfell as well.
Arya Stark and the house of Frey
The demise of the House of Frey was indeed a good and a well-justified one. Positioned over the last episode of season six and the first episode of season seven. Arya Stark used her new newly found face-swapping abilities to first bamboozle Walder Frey (David Bradley) into eating a pie. Food made from his sons and then again to become Frey to poison the rest of the house.
This was the revenge we wanted for the fallen Starks of The Red Wedding and Arya was just the person to serve it! Because the revenge plot was separated between the two seasons it almost confused us fans. When we started to watch season seven and saw that Walder Fray was still alive the quick-minded ones of us straight away realised what was happening. Yet, there was a handful of us who looked just as confused at Frey’s wife/daughter who was standing next to him. That was until Arya took Walder Frey’s face off.
Cersei Lannister blows up the Sept of Baelor
Another example where the series utilises an amazing music score is in the last episode of season 10. Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) finally goes all out with her vindictive evilness and blows up the Sept of Baelor. With her daughter in law Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer), The High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) and a host of other people she didn’t like, locked inside.
The whole scene lasts about eight minutes and also includes Lancel Lannister (Eugene Simon), having his tendons slit by one of Lord Varys’s (Conleth Hill) little birds, so he couldn’t stop the destruction which was about to happen. There was also the violent demise of Pycelle (Julian Glover), once again by Lord Varys’s little birds. Which was orchestrated by the crafty Qyburn (Anton Lesser).
Whilst this is happening a very smug Cersei watches over the chaos, with a glass of red. But, one thing Cersei didn’t account for was after the acknowledgement of his new bride’s murder, her son, King Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) walked himself out of the window to his death.
Battle of the B**tards
Most of the battle scenes in Game of Thrones are pretty epic, but The Battle of the B**tards was by far one of the best. Accompanied by a killer soundtrack and great sound effects this battle was both jaw-dropping and breathtaking.
From the moment Rickon Stark (Art Parkinson) was killed by Ramsey Bolton (Iwan Rheon) to the moment Sansa sets Bolton’s dogs on him, there was action scene after action scene that captivated all of us and also gave us the Winterfell redemption story we needed. The death of Ramsey Bolton was also the most satisfying death since that of King Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson).
In this section of high intercity scenes, we get to see Little Finger/ Lord Peter Baelish (Aidan Gillen) do something useful for once by bringing the Vale Knights of House Arryn to save Jon Snow from dying… for a second time.
Daenerys Targaryen and the unsullied
Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) was a fan favourite from her first scene. But the admiration for her character grew and grew throughout the seasons. One of the most defining moments was when she visits Astapor on the search for an army to aid her in reclaiming the throne.
After meeting the hostile and pig-headed Kraznys mo Nakloz (Dan Hildebrand), Master of Astapor, Slaver and Unsullied overseer, who taunts Daenerys, believing she didn’t know how to speak Valyrian, he agrees to sell her all 8,000 Unsullied members for one of her dragons.
As most of their communications were through his servant Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) he believed Daenerys didn’t hear all the things he was saying. Which made the end scene so much more satisfying. Once the exchange is done, she has the Unsullied whip in hand and Krazny is trying to hold on to the dragon on a chain. She speaks to the Unsullied in clear Valyrian and finally tells Krazny who she is – Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen the blood of old Valyrian.
The moment she tells the Unsullied to slay the masters and uttered the word Dracarys, will forever be the day when we truly started to see how badass she really is!
The red wedding
As horrendous as it is to watch it’s clear that the Red Wedding is still a highlight of season three and indeed the series.
Yes, we already knew by now that anything could happen in Game of Thrones. And blood and gore was a regular occurrence. But this scene took things to a new level with a blood bath no one saw coming… Not even King of the North Rob Stark.
This heart-stopping 10 minutes of cushion grabbing TV, not only saw the death of two of the most loved Starks Rob and Catelyn Stark but also the death of Rob’s wife and unborn child. As well as the betrayal of Roose Bolton a supposed friend of the Starks (Michael McElhatton) and the house of Frey.
This scene cemented for us that no one can predict what is going to happen when you play the Game of Thrones. You win or You Die, there is no middle ground.
The two most sassy characters
When it comes to Game of Thrones, I think we can all agree that the one thing they got right, time and time again was the casting. And this never rang truer than with Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey) and Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg). They didn’t have the biggest parts within the series, but boy, did they make their presence known. It got to the point where we were just waiting for their scenes to see what would come out of their mouths next.
Who’s the most impressive pre-teen in the whole of Westeros? That’s right Lyanna Mormont. Even at 10 years old I wouldn’t mess with her. Through the whole three seasons she was in, she demanded and captivated the audience. She said it how it was, and she wasn’t scared of a single thing. She came in like a warrior, back chatting Jon Snow and Sansa and acting like a total boss. Finally, she went out like a warrior taking a giant walker down with her.
The original, potty-mouthed grandmother Olenna Tyrell had line after line of roasting stingers. No one was safe from her sharp-tongued antics. But the one person that was firmly on her radar was Cersei Lannister. Especially after Cersei killed her family in the sept. In true Olenna style, even after she had been fatally poisoned, she still had the last word, admitting to Jamie Lannister that it was her that killed his and Cersei’s son, King Joffrey Baratheon.
There you have it, some of our favourites and redeeming scenes from Game of Thrones after 10 years, what do you think? What are your favourite scenes or storylines? Let us know in the comments below.
Check out our seven lost plot threads from Game of Thrones HERE.
Read iMDB information on Game of Thrones HERE.
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