STORY & TIMELINE
There was much speculation about the time frame in which the series would be set. However, it has now been made official that the ‘Age of Númernor’ or, the Second Age (year 3, 441) will be the period of choice. The Second Age is the longest period in the Tolkien universe to date so there will be plenty of content to explore. Initial speculation suggested that there might be a storyline based around a young Aragorn. This could have been interesting but that may not have been sustainable as a mega multi-series as Amazon boasts. However, the deal hints that a spin-off show might be created as well. Let’s see how well the first five seasons are received by fans.
Interactive maps showing various parts of Middle Earth and Númenor were launched to the world via the official @LOTRonPrime Twitter account. The map depicting Númenor only ever appears in Tolkien’s Unfinished Tales. Therefore, Amazon must have secured more rights other than just The Lord of the Ringsand The Hobbit, as well as Peter Jackson’s movie collection. In terms of linking the worlds together, there will probably be an unyielding correlation between Peter Jackson’s LOTR universe and the Amazon LOTR universe as to ensure there is some level of continuity that fans can recognise and connect with.
FILMING & LOCATION
TheOneRing.net reported that a vast chunk of the filming would be done in New Zealand via an industry insider in Auckland. Kumeu Film Studios and Auckland Film Studios were mentioned. Apparently, the studios have been working on the show in the pre-production phase for almost a year now. With a show such as this, it is essential that proper preparation is done before production, they really don’t want to mess this one up. So many depend upon it being a success.
There was previous speculation and excitement that the series might be shot in Scotland (the home of Screen Bunny). Reports came in that the Amazon team had been spotted on recces in and around the country and media outlets even suggested that the newly constructed film studios in Leith would even play a part in the filming. However, this was but a dream that wasn’t meant to come true (for now). Despite this turn in events, we are thrilled that the show will return to New Zealand, the home of the Jackson LOTR and The Hobbit franchise and, the one true Middle Earth in my opinion. This is not to say that the team won’t return to Scotland in the future – if so, give us a call!
The production is estimated to cost a whopping $1.5billion so far so, we should expect nothing other than perfection. This also makes the LOTR series one of the most expensive TV shows ever made. Some have said that this show will fill the gap of Game of Thrones– I’m just not seeing that. There is no chance that the Tolkien estate would go for HBO styling. That being said, it was just announced that GOT writer Bryan Cogman is on board so we will see how this takes shape.
In the director’s chair, we have J. A. Bayona (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, 2018) for the first two episodes at least. Other writers include; John D. Payne and Patrick McKay (Star Trek Beyond, 2016). There are also various other producers and exec producers assisting with the first two episodes for the show. We imagine there will be hundreds if not, thousands of cast and crew involved once all filming is completed.
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Jennifer Salke (Amazon Studios boss) stated that principal photography is due to start in 2020 so it might be a little optimistic to say that we could be watching this next year. That being said, it was reported that pre-production had already started so fingers crossed for a late 2020 release. Promo will likely start at this point however one would imagine with the TV premiere mid-2021.
So, there is a lot to take in with this so far. It would be nice to see some newer characters explored in this age as well as up and coming acting talent. Peter Jackson cast a lot of relatively unknown actors in LOTR and that was exceedingly well received. An idea might be to follow in his footsteps and not be brash about hiring A-listers (at least until we know a bit more about the story). There will probably be a fair turnaround of characters in the show (not too unlike GOT), which will help keep the content fresh. This is a show that they really don’t need to sell, audiences will watch whether it be because they are life-long Tolkien fans or, pure curiosity.
We do hope Amazon does a good job and keep the universe as visually stunning and creative as Jackson’s LOTR, but, one does not simply carry on a mammoth task such as this. It is amazing that we have been granted permission to create from Tolkien’s life works and share it with each other. This is, and, will always be a historic piece of artistic, out of this world, and magically transformative source of creativity. It will require a strong level of stealth, commitment and courage. Please do not ruin our precious.