You ready for some updates on Amazon's upcoming Lord of the Rings series? Amazon recently revealed its behind-the-scenes "Fellowship," including retired professor of Middle and Old English literature Tom Shippey, who was listed as a "Tolkien Scholar." He's helping to adapt J.R.R. Tolkien's work for the prequel series, and he just shared some tidbits in a new interview.
Tom Shippey told Deutsche Tolkien he didn't know too much, but that's not how it came across in his interview. He shared a lot of great intel, although it's early enough that things could change during production.
For one, it sounds like Amazon gave the first season of the Lord of the Rings show a huge episode count. But it also sounds like the writers are still mapping out how it will go. Tom Shippey dropped that info when talking about potential filming locations:
Twenty episodes is huge for a streamer. Netflix made 13 a standard for a while, but more shows have been cutting back to 10 or 8 rather than adding more. Twenty is more in line with a network TV show.
The Tolkien scholar also said, as far as he knew, The Powers That Be meant to start airing the show in 2021, so he didn't think production would start this year -- but he wasn't sure.
It's exciting to think of a 20-episode season of Lord of the Rings. This is meant to be Amazon's own Game of Thrones, and it's going to be expensive and ambitious. It's a good idea to plan out as much as they can in advance, and it does sound like they have a pretty specific framework -- the show must cover the Second Age, and the deal with the Tolkien Estate was reportedly for five seasons and a potential spinoff.
Speaking of the Tolkien Estate, Tom Shippey said the estate does have veto power over everything that concerns Tolkien's work. The estate is quite strict about the Lord of the Rings series sticking to the Second Age -- so nothing can be shown from the Third Age, which was covered in Peter Jackson's films.
Here are the basics of what the Amazon series will cover, per Tom Shippey:
However, as he noted, new characters can be added, and the Lord of the Rings prequel series can ask and potentially answer a lot of intriguing questions.
So I imagine that's part of Tom Shippey's job, to be a resource for Tolkien history but also to help keep things on track and not break canon. But the Second Age lasted for 3,441 years, so there's certainly a lot to cover in that time, and a lot of wiggle room for interpretation of the big events.
But in terms of big events, the Second Age ended when Sauron was defeated by the Last Alliance of Elves and Men -- as Galadriel narrated at the start of the Lord of the Rings movies:
Before sharing its "Fellowship" video, Amazon's Lord of the Rings series previously announced J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay as the showrunners, with J.A. Bayona as a producer/director, and Game of Thrones alum Bryan Cogman as a consultant.
Australian actress Markella Kavenagh was also announced as the first star for this series. She'll play Tyra, and we're waiting to hear more about her, and about the other stars of the series. Don't expect Orlando Bloom's Legolas to be involved, or Andy Serkis. Will Peter Jackson have any kind of role behind-the-scenes? Is there any chance of, say, Cate Blanchett returning as Galadriel?
Stay tuned for more updates on Amazon's Lord of the Rings series. Are you hoping Amazon does stick to that 20-episode Season 1 count, per the Tolkien scholar?
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Gina grew up in Massachusetts and California in her own version of The Parent Trap. She went to three different middle schools, four high schools, and three universities -- including half a year in Perth, Western Australia. She currently lives in a small town in Maine, the kind Stephen King regularly sets terrible things in, so this may be the last you hear from her.
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