The Lord of the Rings TV Series: Nine Things You Should Know About Amazon’s LotR

Our faces when we found out Amazon is creating a LotR TV show.

Amazon is adapting Lord of the Rings for TV. Back in 2017, the e-commerce giant bought the rights to J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved fantasy epic for $250 million. As of 2018, the series is expected to release in 2021. Here are nine things we know about the new Amazon LotR series. (Nine because nine rings for mortal men, get it?)

1. We’ve got a first peek at the map of Middle-earth.

Map of Middle-earth

As of February 13, the official Twitter and Facebook pages for the series started dropping teasers. Like J.R.R. Tolkien himself, they “started with a map,” which is interactive and updated with each section of the infamous Ring Verse:

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,

Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,

Nine for mortal men, doomed to die,

One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne;

In the land of Mordor where the shadows lie.

One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them,

One ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them;

In the land of Mordor where the shadows lie.

— J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

So far, only the first two lines are up, but we can reasonably expect a couple more updates to the map with the other two lines.

2. It’ll be based on “Tolkien’s original writings.”

Portrait of J.R.R. Tolkien

Book-lovers, rejoice! Amazon has stated that it wants to focus on Tolkien’s original writings, rather than re-adapt what Peter Jackson has already done with his Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies. Lord of the Rings has a very rich universe with a lot of parts that didn’t make it into the movies. This leaves a lot of uncharted territory, so to speak.

Based on Amazon’s teaser map, however, fans have pointed out that, based on the geography and place names shown, this series may take place in the Third Age, but many many years before Frodo Baggins sets out from the Shire to destroy the One Ring.

3. Season 1 may be about Aragorn.

Portrait of Aragorn

TheOneRing.Net confirmed in May 2018 that the first season of the series would be about young Aragorn. Aragorn, played by Viggo Mortensen in the original movies, is a Ranger of the North who takes Frodo and his friends to Rivendell, and then joins the Fellowship of the Ring. Throughout the story, he grows into the role he had been destined for since childhood: to become the King of the Reunited Kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor.

Because Amazon stated that it did not want to remake the story of the Fellowship, the story of Aragorn would be a good one for the show. In the book itself his story  is only found in the Appendices, while in the movies it is barely hinted at in some scenes. The show would give Aragorn’s story the proper spotlight it deserves, as it is a very rich and moving backstory for a beloved character.

4. Peter Jackson is not the showrunner.

Peter Jackson in the Shire

Peter Jackson produced and directed the original Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies . Naturally, LotR fans would like to know if he is involved in Amazon’s TV series as well. In July 2018, however, Amazon announced that JD Payne and Patrick McKay would  develope the TV series.

Payne and McKay have written Star Trek 4 for JJ Abrams, as well as Jungle Cruise for Disney.

5. Peter Jackson may be advising.

Portrait of Peter Jackson

However, just because Peter Jackson is not officially involved doesn’t mean he isn’t hovering in the background. Jackson has mentioned that he may be acting as an advisor to the new team, and both he and his writing partner Philippa Boyens think the TV series will be promising.

6. Everything is super-secretive.

Writer's Room

Amazon has taken great effort to keep the development of the show as secret as possible. This means, for example, that the writers room is “under lock and key”, with the windows “taped closed” and a security guard posted outside. Not surprising, given the amount of money on the line!

7. It’s possibly the most expensive TV series to date.

The Fellowship

Exactly how much money is on the line? $One billion. That’s the amount currently speculated for production costs, so the actual bill could go even higher. In an entertainment world where everyone is trying to beat HBO’s Game of Thrones and Netflix’s Stranger Things, high production value is really the name of the game.

8. Ian McKellen wants to be Gandalf again.

Ian McKellen as Gandalf

In an interview with Graham Norton in December 2017, Ian McKellen, who played Gandalf the Grey/White through all of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films, has mentioned his interest in playing Gandalf again for the Amazon TV series. According to him, because Gandalf is “over 7,000 years old,” he, at 78, is “not too old” to reprise the role.

Like Aragorn, Gandalf is another beloved character of the series. The old Wizard (or Istar, in the books) is involved in many of the major events of Middle-earth’s history in the Third Age. His introduction of Bilbo Baggins to the Dwarves of Erebor formed the plot of the Hobbit, and ultimately brought the One Ring back to the Shire, which in turn forms the plot of Lord of the Rings. Chances are, if the Amazon TV series is going to cover Middle-earth in the Third Age, Gandalf is likely to be a key player.

9. There will be five seasons.

Silhouette of the Fellowship

Finally, the deal for the TV series includes multiple seasons. This means at least five seasons will be developed for the Lord of the Rings.

Considering the sheer amount of history, backstory, and worldbuilding that has gone into Middle-earth, having a five-season run is good news for fans, because it means the story can slow down and explore the plot in greater detail and nuance than in the films. Fans are already speculating about all the different characters cut from the movies who could show up in the TV series, including Celebrimbor, the Elf who helped Sauron forge the Rings of Power, and Glorfindel, an Elf hero who had originally helped guide the Hobbits to Rivendell (his role was taken by Arwen in Jackson’s movies).

We will probably only know more about the show’s direction once castings have been announced, so there is still quite an exciting wait ahead of us!

BONUS: It really has been a long journey for Lord of the Rings.

When Peter Jackson had first pitched the idea for Lord of the Rings, he had struggled to find a studio that would produce it. Originally, Miramax owned the rights, and if Jackson couldn’t get anyone to fund his vision, they would hire another writer to try and turn all three books into one film.

But luckily, Jackson managed to secure a studio with New Line and got the chance to turn the trilogy into three films. The worldwide success of those Lord of the Rings films is why we now have the chance to revisit Middle-earth again, with Amazon at the helm.

We can’t wait to go there and back again!


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After persevering through one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of her life - college - Sarah is exploring the world of games and entertainment writing.
Gamer Since: 1998
Favorite Genre: RPG
Top 3 Favorite Games:Dungeon Siege, Dungeon Siege II, Dungeon Siege III
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