A sprawling, insanely pricey fantasy TV series based on a fictional universe that was introduced in a series of incredibly popular and famously long and complex books? And books, at that, by an author with a double-R middle initial? No, it's not George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones. Instead, it's a prequel to J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings saga, soon to become an Amazon Prime original series.
Don't expect a retread of familiar territory. Amazon isn't going to remake the LOTR series that was last seen as several acclaimed Peter Jackson-directed movies. Though this series, like the film saga, will be set in Tolkien's Middle-earth, the company says the original storylines will come from a time period preceding The Fellowship of the Ring.
And the series cost a lot of silver coin, or whatever the monetary unit is in pre-LOTR Middle-earth. Back in 2017 when news of the show broke, Deadline reported that Amazon reportedly paid close to $250 million for the rights, making it the most expensive TV series ever. That doesn't, of course, include the money it'll cost to hire the actors and crew and actually make the sure-to-be-pricey show. The Hollywood Reporter speculates that the whole shebang could cost more than $1 billion.
The latest news
"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," Bayona said in a statement.
Home sweet New Zealand
The New Zealand Herald reported on July 2 that New Zealand will still be the primary filming location for the series. According to the paper, the country nearly lost out to Scotland, but government officials were able to reassure Amazon of the country's safety after the frightening March 15 shootings at a mosque in Christchurch. The UK's seemingly never-ending Brexit situation also hurt Scotland's chances, the paper reports.
"New Zealand — love it or not — is going to be Middle Earth," an unnamed insider said.
The basics: What, when and where?
WHAT… Amazon bought the global TV rights to Tolkien's (it's pronounced Tol-KEEN) Lord of the Rings saga, though what exactly the company will do with those rights could evolve. Right now plans are for a multiseason series set in that pre-Fellowship time period called The Second Age.
But there may be more than one show: Amazon's initial press release noted that the deal includes a potential additional spin-off series. Our guess is we'll have to see how the first show does before going there.
WHEN… And that first show will be around for a while: The deal requires Amazon to commit to five seasons, as well as begin production within two years. Since the deal was announced in November 2017, expect to hear some news on the series before November 2019.
In a 2018 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke said the company hopes to air the show sometime in 2021.
WHERE… Salke also told Deadline that the new show could return to New Zealand, where the Peter Jackson movies were shot. "I think we might be in New Zealand. I don't know," she said. "But we're going to have to go somewhere interesting that could provide those locations in a really authentic way, because we want it to look incredible."
How to watch
As you almost certainly know, Amazon has moved well beyond an online bookstore (those were the days…), and has an entertainment arm of its own. Amazon Video is a premium on-demand entertainment service that not only licenses content but also makes its own. Amazon Studios has produced such original series as The Man in the High Castle and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, as well as movies.
No cast members have been announced as of May 2019, but back in July 2018, Amazon announced that Godzilla vs. Kong screenwriters J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay will develop the show. "We feel like Frodo, setting out from the Shire, with a great responsibility in our care — it is the beginning of the adventure of a lifetime," Payne and McKay said in a statement.
In George R.R. Martin's online post after the Game of Thrones finale in May 2019, Martin wrote, "Amazon scooped up Bryan Cogman, and put him to work on developing shows of his own, as well as helping out on their big Tolkien project."
Cogman wrote 11 episodes of HBO's Game of Thrones series and was a co-executive producer by the end of the show's run. Variety says Cogman will consult on the show.
One Twitter user asked actor Sean Astin, who played Samwise Gamgee in the Peter Jackson trilogy, if he'd be involved in the new series. His answer? "Um, I'm gonna watch it!"
What's it all about?
You won't have seen these stories before, but you'll know the Middle-earth setting and likely some of the details from LOTR. Matt Galsor, a representative for the Tolkien Estate and Trust and HarperCollins, said in the original Amazon press release that the Amazon team has "exceptional ideas to bring to the screen previously unexplored stories based on J.R.R. Tolkien's original writings."
But not everything will be unfamiliar. Amazon reportedly has Read More – Source