Amazon Prime's Lord of the Rings series is hotly anticipated as much for its extraordinarily extravagant budget as for its return to Middle Earth. Reportedly, it's going to cost a billion dollars. A billion! $1,000,000,000.
I'm not being funny, right, but a billion dollars – £746,435,000 in sterling – is a lot more money than you think it is. You could get yourself pretty much anything. Seven Eden Hazards? Sure! Well, maybe five or six after you've sunk all that money into your own personal cloning lab.
Anyway, this is everything we know so far about the new Lord of the Rings series. At this stage that does not include intel on whether anyone will say "po-tay-toes – boil 'em, mash 'em, stick 'em in a stew". Sorry.
Who's in it?
Well, we thought Will Poulter was nailed on to star, but according to Variety he's now pulled out citing scheduling conflicts. However! Deadline reported in early January that Poulter's place will be taken by Robert Aramayo, who you'll no doubt remember from when he played the young Ned Stark in Game of Thrones. The role being handed over is apparently that of the young hero, apparently named Beldor. Whether it turns out that he's distantly related to Thrones' door-holding man mountain Hodor will, one hopes, be explored in depth during the series.
In mid-January this year, Amazon confirmed a slew of actors who've signed up to the cast. Aussie actor Tom Budge and Ismael Cruz Cordova from The Mandalorian and Mary Queen of Scots are the most recognisable of a list of largely unrecognisable names, with Amazon deciding to pick mostly new and unknown faces. The other actors confirmed are Ema Horvath, Markella Kavenagh, Joseph Mawle, Tyroe Muhafidin, Sophia Nomvete, Megan Richards, Dylan Smith and Charlie Vickers.
Plus, in mid-December, Variety reported that Morfydd Clark has been cast as a young incarnation of the glowing forest-dwelling elf Galadriel, who was played in the Jackson trilogy by Cate Blanchett. Clark is set for a very good 2020, as she's the lead in Rose Clark's hotly anticipated British horror Saint Maud. Her name's pronounced more-fith, by the way.
"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," Variety reported showrunners JD Payne and Patrick McKay as saying. "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."
Other names which are reportedly close include Joseph Mawle, better known as Benjen Stark in Game of Thrones, as a villain called Oren, and Maxim Baldry from Years and Years.
How many episodes and series are we looking at here?
One of the very exciting things about the Tolkien-verse from a pure television business perspective is that its points of time reference are next to meaningless. There is no upper limit on how long this could run. Second Age? Third Age? How many years make up an age? It doesn't really matter. All that does matter is that Amazon reportedly commissioned a second season last November, which will be written after the first two episodes of season one are filmed.
What's it all about?
We're assuming you know at least the broad strokes of the Lord of the Rings saga as seen in Peter Jackson's trilogy – tiny lad and his gardener sent on a mission by a wizard to destroy a powerful ring which a really evil king-ghost-spirit sort of lives in (?) by throwing it into a volcano, which they eventually do after a lot of faffing about – but none of that will be encroached upon in the Amazon series.
Beyond a very broad timeframe and a couple of characters' names we don't know anything much about the story, and Middle Earth's lore is far too big to make any kind of educated guesses.
So when's it set?
Aha, one of the things we do actually know. The Tolkien estate is famously protective of its asset, and would not allow a simple remake of the three books which were turned into Jackson's trilogy. Back in February, Amazon Prime's Lord of the Rings Twitter account tweeted out this map.
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone, pic.twitter.com/Btk2CRsQI2— The Lord of the Rings on Prime (@LOTRonPrime) February 18, 2019
Tolkien heads are some of the most intensely detail-orientated heads out there, and they duly noted that the names of regions on there give some big clues as to when the action will happen. Jackson's trilogy happened in the Third Age, which was when the horse-riding region of Rohan got its name. However, on here it's called Calenardhon, and the absence of the regions of Arnor and Gondor suggested this map could be from as early as the Second Age. The Twitter feed then confirmed it.
That's the age when the rings of power were forged, and when the flashback battle scene from the start of The Fellowship of the Ring is set, where Isildur chops Sauron's fingers off.
How on earth is it going to cost a billion dollars?
No idea. Maybe it'll feature Gandalf the Solid Platinum.
Will it be filmed in New Zealand again?
Yes it will. Jackson's trilogy made great use of the mountains of South Island, including Mount Sunday and Nelson Tasman, and Amazon will be heading back there.
Who's involved behind the cameras?
JA Bayona, who directed Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, will direct the first two episodes and executive produce. "JRR Tolkien created one of the most extraordinary and inspiring stories of all time, and as a lifelong fan it is an honor and a joy to join this amazing team," Deadline reported Bayona as saying. "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."
Elsewhere, Game of Thrones' Bryan Cogman will be a consulting producer, writers will include Gennifer Hutchison, Jason Cahill, Justin Doble and Helen Shang.
This handy video includes most of that information, but with the addition of a typewriter clacking out everyone's names in ye olde timey-honoured fashion.
Meet our Fellowship. pic.twitter.com/Npouu6ZlRt— The Lord of the Rings on Prime (@LOTRonPrime) July 27, 2019
When is it out?
It's expected to land at some point in 2021. We don't know exactly when. Sorry. But then as a wise man once said: a billion-dollar Amazon Prime series based on the Tolkien universe is never late, Frodo Baggins. Nor is it early. It arrives precisely when it means to, in a stretch Hummer with sick neons.
Like this article? Sign up to our newsletter to get more delivered straight to your inbox.
You Might Also Like