First Look at Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings, the Most Expensive TV Show Ever Made
Amazon Studios’ massive The Lord of the Rings TV series now has a release date, as well as our first glimpse at Middle-earth. The first episode will be birthed fully-formed like an orc from the slimes by the sorcery of Morgoth—erm, I mean, will be forthcoming from Jeff Bezos’s studio on September 2nd, 2022. That’s only about a year and a month until we’re plunged into nonstop adventures with Elves, Men, Dwarves, Ringwraiths, and hopefully some Ents.
The shape of the show’s story is still very much under wraps. What we do know is that it is set thousands of years before the events of The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, in author J.R.R. Tolkien’s Second Age of Middle-earth. We’ll be seeing at least a few “familiar” faces, like a young Galadriel. We also know that after purchasing TV adaptation rights for an eye-watering $250 million, Amazon Studios dived in headfirst with a 5-season, $1 billion dollar commitment to the show, which makes it, per Deadline, “the most expensive TV series ever mounted.”
Now, I may not love the Amazon name and the cost of this thing is jaw-dropping, but the LoTR fan in me isn’t mad. Amazon Studios is responsible for some of my favorite TV fare, like Tales From the Loop, Fleabag, Good Omens, and the latest seasons of The Expanse, to name a few. Its infinitely deep pockets mean that this series is at least going to look absolutely gorgeous and is likely employing top talent across the board.
We have our first look at the lush landscapes and ethereal costumes that await in this newly-released picture:
The Second Age stands as the sort of launchpad to the well-known tales from Tolkien’s famous books. The age ends with the defeat of the wicked Sauron (spoiler alert—that doesn’t quite take!) but up until that point, it’s a tumultuous time marked by Sauron’s rise and wars for those pesky Rings between Sauron’s forces and the Elves. Bound up in these events is Númenor—an island Kingdom of men—that is gaining power and influence and having a bit of an existential crisis. The Second Age is really the age of Númenor, so we’ll likely be seeing a lot on that front.
This is all to say that while we’re not sure exactly which histories the LoTR series will be taking on—whether direct adaptations from Tolkien’s plotting or brand-new stories set in that era—this is an enormous sandbox to play around in and could provide for many seasons’ worth of epic television.
Given the sprawling scope of Tolkien’s meticulously chronicled universe, it’s not surprising that Amazon Studios made such a significant commitment from the get-go. They could create shows set in Middle-earth for decades if the initial offerings prove to be a hit. And it’s hard to imagine they won’t have a huge launch and a lot of attention from viewers and the media. Tolkien’s books are beloved, the movies are wildly popular, and we are starved for some well-wrought fantasy television.
Setting out with the intent to make 5 seasons from the start is a more than considerable undertaking for everyone involved. Amazon Studios surely anticipates that they have the next Game of Thrones on their hands, crafting a fantasy TV drama from a beloved property that will jump genre boundaries and catch on with all kinds of audiences. Hopefully, The Lord of the Rings production team has also learned from Game of Thrones’ many missteps and will emerge the One series that we won’t be able to miss.
(via Deadline, images: New Line Cinema, Amazon Studios)
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