Amazon’s Lord of the Rings TV series has been a hot topic for months as stories about the show’s whopping budget and long filming process make the headlines. For a long time, it was shrouded in secrecy, but with the first official picture and a release date now officially shown off, we can finally look forward to seeing what this show has to offer.
Here’s everything we know about Amazon’s Lord of the Rings so far, including when in the Middle-earth timeline it’s set.
Amazon’s Lord of the Rings: Release Date
After months of speculation, the first season of Amazon’s Lord of the Rings TV show has been officially dated to premiere on Friday, September 2, 2022.
It’ll be following by a second season (already greenlit) at a later date.
All episodes will likely air weekly, and will release on Amazon Prime Video.
Does the show have a name yet?
Currently Amazon’s Lord of the Rings TV series doesn’t have an official name, although we can expect it to gain some sort of subtitle ahead of release.
The ‘Lord of the Rings‘ name is likely being tossed around in this phase for name recognition — although given the titular ‘Lord’ is Sauron and this series could feature the villain in some capacity it may get away with re-using the iconic LotR moniker.
It’s likely we’ll hear more about the official series name closer to its release in 2022.
The show has a mammoth budget
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Jennifer Salke, Head of Amazon Studios, said the first season of Amazon’s Lord of the Rings would cost around $600 million, a whopping amount for a TV series.
“This is a full season of a huge world-building show,” Salke told The Hollywood Reporter. “The number is a sexy headline or a crazy headline that’s fun to click on, but that is really building the infrastructure of what will sustain the whole series.”
Expect the show to make the most of that budget with huge sets and plenty of high fantasy world-building.
Season 2 won’t be filmed in New Zealand
In sad news for our trans-Tasman mates, it has just been confirmed that Season 2 of Amazon’s Lord of the Rings series will be filmed in the UK, and not in New Zealand. Why, you ask? Convenience, mostly.
“The shift from New Zealand to the UK aligns with the studio’s strategy of expanding its production footprint and investing in studio space across the UK, with many of Amazon Studios’ tentpole series and films already calling the UK home,” Vernon Sanders, Amazon Studios’ VP and Co-Head of TV said, offering thanks to “the people and the government of New Zealand for their hospitality and dedication and for providing The Lord of the Rings series with an incredible place to begin this epic journey.”
Amazon’s Lord of the Rings: Cast and Characters
Amazon’s Lord of the Rings cast list is stacked with exciting newcomers, but none more intriguing than Morfydd Clark (His Dark Materials), who’ll play a young version of Galadriel (a role made famous by Australia’s Cate Blanchett).
Galadriel is one of the only returning characters to be part of Amazon’s adaptation so far, although the mystery cast list means we could see more. Elrond is another likely character to make a return, as is Galadriel’s husband Celeborn, but we have no current confirmation of either appearance.
Joining Clark as a named character is Markella Kavenagh (Picnic at Hanging Rock) as ‘Tyra’ and Robert Aramayo (Game of Thrones) as ‘Beldor’. Neither appear to be found in Tolkein lore, but regardless they’ll have an important role to play in the story.
They’ll also be joined by a whopping cast of actors including: Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Owain Arthur, Maxim Baldry, Nazanin Boniadi, Ismael Cruz Córdova, Charles Edwards, Trystan Gravelle, Sir Lenny Henry, Ema Horvath, Joseph Mawle, Tyroe Muhafidin, Sophia Nomvete, Lloyd Owen, Megan Richards, Dylan Smith, Charlie Vickers, Leon Wadham, Benjamin Walker, Daniel Weyman, and Sara Zwangobani.
So far, no other roles or character names have been confirmed.
Amazon’s Lord of the Rings: Plot details and setting
Amazon’s Lord of the Rings is firmly set in the Second Age of Arda (Earth), a time of great change which saw the Dark Lord Sauron rise to power and forge the One Ring. This age followed the conclusion of the First Age, marked by the defeat of Morgoth (the first Dark Lord). During this period, evil forces battled for power, and the War of the Elves and Sauron took place.
The events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings take place in the Third Age, which began after Sauron was defeated for the first time. Given these events took place thousands of years after the Second Age, don’t expect many familiar characters to appear in Amazon’s adaptation outside of the Elves or the Istari (the Wizards of Middle-earth).
Currently, we know very little about who each cast member will be playing and what role they’ll have in the story.
Amazon has kept particularly tight-lipped about the show and what major events it’ll cover, but its official description from Amazon is still very juicy:
“Lord of the Rings brings to screens for the very first time the heroic legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history. This epic drama is set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and will take viewers back to an era in which great powers were forged, kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin, unlikely heroes were tested, hope hung by the finest of threads, and the greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness.
“Beginning in a time of relative peace, the series follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth. From the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains, to the majestic forests of the elf-capital of Lindon, to the breathtaking island kingdom of Númenor, to the furthest reaches of the map, these kingdoms and characters will carve out legacies that live on long after they are gone.”
Why those background trees are important
The first image of Amazon’s Lord of the Rings TV show stunned fans for more than one reason. While it depicts a gorgeous, sunlit world, it also featured an important and telling landmark for fans: the Two Trees of Valinor, Laurelin and Telperion. You can spot them in the far distance, contrasting each other in shadow and light.
These were the trees that brought light to Arda, but they were destroyed by Morgoth and Ungoliant the spider (mother of Shelob) in the First Age. Their last flowers were late turned into the sun and the moon according to lore.
Given the appearance of these trees in the first image for Amazon’s Lord of the Rings, we can assume the scene depicted is a flashback to the First Age or that the timeline of the show will be much broader than first announced.
So, what is Valinor?
Valinor was a realm in the continent of Aman home to the Valar, a race of powerful beings that guided Middle-earth in its development of history, culture and magic. They split from a group called the Ainur, who were holy beings who watched over all lands.
While the Valar initially took refuge in a place called Almaren, they were driven out by an Ainur called Melkor, who became the Dark Lord Morgoth. Instead, Valinor became their home and place of refuge until the the First Age passed and the Two Trees of Valinor were destroyed.
Following this destruction, Valinor was hidden away by the Elves and became seperate from Middle-earth. In later ages it was known as part of the Undying Lands, a place where immortals or other significant beings (such as hobbits Frodo and Sam, and dwarf Gimli) could go to prepare for their final rest.
When can we expect to see more news?
Given Amazon’s Lord of the Rings TV series is currently set for a September 2022 release, we can’t expect to see more news from the project until much later in the year.
We know filming has just wrapped up but given the high fantasy themes and production scope, it’s likely the series will have a long and intense post-production phase. While the early image of the show is very exciting, we’ll have to say patient to hear more about what’s in store.
Stay tuned to Gizmodo Australia as we learn more about Amazon’s Lord of the Rings TV series, set for release in late 2022.