Amazon is planning to kick its streaming content up a notch with the impending release of its Lord of The Rings prequel series. A reportedly very pricey show that'll no doubt be one of the most ambitious efforts in TV history, there are a lot of expectations for this new adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's beloved fantasy series. And there are understandably a lot of people wondering, "Why this streaming series on the way when we already have Peter Jackson's acclaimed Lord of the Rings trilogy, as well as his less-celebrated The Hobbit trilogy?" It's most certainly a reasonable question.
There's no telling if Amazon's Lord Of The Rings will be a worthwhile endeavor. It's currently coming together as we speak, and it's hard to know what the final end product will be when the show hasn't even started filming yet. But based on the information we have already gleaned from this expensive and expansive new project, there are certainly many reasons to be excited. If it's done well, Amazon's show could be one of the most astounding things to ever appear on TV — streaming or otherwise. Here are a few reasons why one should be excited to see Amazon's adaptation come together.
A Lord Of The Rings TV Series Will Expand The Story In Ways The Movies Couldn't
When you're making a show, you have a lot of ground to cover. The Lord of the Rings were already made into three extra-long movies, and even then, there were many concessions made and plotlines cut. Have you seen how long those extended cuts are? And that still doesn't include everything found in these books. Indeed, even though the original trilogy (and the subsequent Hobbit trilogy) were all very long and in-depth with what they showed, there is room to show even more of the material found in the stories — most especially if, as it has been revealed already, this streaming series becomes a prequel that's exploring the beginnings of the stories, as well as the journeys that have already made their way onto the big screen. There's lot of story to tell.
At first, when you hear about The Lord of the Rings coming to Amazon, the natural response is "Why are we doing this?" But when you discover that it is intended to be a prequel series, which will eventually make its way to the stories we've already seen (though not initially), it does make more sense why Amazon is so gung-ho about bringing this story back to the center stage.
While it is hard to know if this new series will be better than what we've seen already, there is the clear promise of doing more than what we've already got, and exploring the origins of the characters and the events leading up to what we know about these characters. That's some fruitful dramatic ground, especially if the show intends to run upwards of 20 episodes (!) a season. The narrative wouldn't be able to go into the complete story for some twisty legal reasons, but it'll cover more narrative ground than all six of the films did.
LOTR Will Be The Biggest Fantasy Series On Television Since Game Of Thrones
There is a big gap in high budget fantasy on television in the wake of Game of Thrones' contested finale. While HBO is working on a prequel series of their own with Naomi Watts, there is a tremendous opportunity for TV stations and streaming services alike to present a massive television series that is just as epic and groundbreaking — if not more so — that will appeal to audiences hungry to return to a big, elaborate world of spellbinding fantasy.
While there are other high profile fantasy shows on the way or in the works, including Netflix's The Witcher and HBO's His Dark Materials, to only name a couple, it's Amazon's Lord of the Rings series that is expected to be even bigger and more expansive than all of those titles, if news reports are to be believed. With an enormous budget and more narrative scope than all the shows we've mentioned combined, it's a huge undertaking, and one that makes the scope of Game of Thrones look small in comparison.
It could easily turn into a monumental disaster, but you have to admire the ambition at foot here. (No pun intended.) For Game of Thrones fans eagerly chomping at the bit for another gigantic fantasy show, Amazon's LOTR could quench that thirst.
Amazon Is Reportedly Spending A Billion Dollars To Make Lord Of The Rings, So It Will Undoubtedly Be Huge
As we have teased throughout this article, the price tag for Amazon's The Lord of the Rings series is expected to be absolutely enormous. Nothing is confirmed at the moment, and it's hard to imagine these numbers will ever be officiated in any public fashion, but the estimated budget for Amazon's new series is expected to be over a billion dollars. That's a whole lot of cash to throw into one series. But when you're Amazon, you can throw that money around.
If true, the budget of Lord Of The Rings would not just surpass the budget of any other series of TV, let alone the budget of the original films. It would also be one of the most expensive pieces of entertainment in history, and those costs seemingly only refer to the first season that's currently underway. It's clear that Amazon's Lord of the Rings is going to be monumentally huge in an unprecedented way.
No matter how it shapes up, this series will be a spectacle, the likes of which have rarely —if ever — been seen before; not even compared to the original two trilogies or even Game of Thrones. With that in mind, it is clear that no matter what, this take on Lord of the Rings is something you'll want to keep an eye of Sauron on. Because it'll be huge.
Writers From Breaking Bad, Hannibal, The Sopranos, Stranger Things, Toy Story 4 And More Are Crafting The Lord Of The Rings Series
It's hard to match the books. The careful craftsmanship on display in J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy series is astounding. And similarly, a lot of careful care was placed into the writing for the original Lord of the Rings trilogy. (The Hobbit trilogy? Maybe not so much...) You need an excellent team of writers to make something worthy of this undertaking. You can't simply slack off the scripts, especially when there is so much money on the line here.
Thankfully, it was revealed on the show's Twitter page that The Lord of The Rings: The Amazon Series has recently assembled an awesome fellowship of writers, many of whom have written for some of the most beloved and acclaimed television series of the 21st century. At the helm as showrunners are J.D. Payne & Patrick McKay, both of whom are fairly new to the Hollywood scene, but have been impressing people with their early work so far. They did uncredited rewrites on Star Trek Beyond and are attached to a new Star Trek movie that might or might not come together anytime soon.
As far as filling out the rest of the writers room, there's Gennifer Hutchinson, an Emmy-nominated writer for Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, as well as Helen Shang, a writer for Hannibal and 13 Reasons Why. There's also Jason Cahill, a writer for Halt & Catch Fire, The Sopranos and ER, and Justin Dohle, a writer for Stranger Things and Fringe. Furthermore, there's Bryan Cogman, a writer for Game of Thrones, and Stephany Folson, one of the screenwriters on this summer's sequel, Toy Story 4. That's a lot of well-accredited writers for one show, and it's clear that they're putting in the effort to find high grade writers to make sure this newest adaptation of the show is something worthwhile — for both fans of the books and casual viewers.
The First Two LOTR Episodes Have An Acclaimed Director In Place
Much like it is hard to find yourself in J.R.R. Tolkien's shoes, it is also pretty challenging to try to upstage Peter Jackson. The Oscar-winning director's love, passion and clear vision for the original Lord of the Rings films was vividly on display throughout the masterful first three films, and it came back in fits and starts throughout The Hobbit trilogy as well. Whoever Amazon picks to helm the first season will certainly be feeling a whole lot of pressure.
While it's unclear who is expected to direct every episode of the series, it's been confirmed that J.A. Bayona is at the helm for the first two episodes. The Spanish filmmaker earned high acclaim for his feature film debut, The Orphanage, and his follow-up films, The Impossible and A Monster Calls, were both well regarded critically, even though they weren't necessarily box office champions (unfortunately).
He is perhaps best known to the general public, however, for helming Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, which (in my view) is his weakest film, but it is easily his most commercially successful. But even though his last film wasn't without its flaws, it's clear that in the right moments, his vision and passion were on display, and that should be a feather in Amazon's cap. By hiring a cinematic director, the company's making sure that this new series will also look spectacular on its service.
The Lord Of The Rings TV Show Covers 3,000 Years, Which Promises Lots Of Material
The big question when it comes to making a Lord of The Rings series is, "Why are you making it when we already have three excellent films?" Indeed, it will be a bit hurtle for some folks to see what this show will offer that isn't found in the labored and lovingly-made original trilogy. But it's evident that it is on the minds of the showrunners to not simply make a redo of the original films, complete with (presumably) more real-time walking sequences to pad out the running time. No, in order to justify the existence of this new, very expensive show, it's clear that the showrunners want it to be a prequel.
According to reports coming out about the show, Amazon's The Lord Of The Rings series is expected cover over 3,000 years in this universe, leading up to the events of the six films and likely surpassing them. That is a lot of narrative ground, and it makes sense that they want to tackle it with a show rather than new movies. It's going to be an enormous undertaking, and who knows if it'll be success. But the ambition is here to make a show that's not simply a redo, but something that will expand on the films and provide the full scope of the books in a very cinematic, big budget style.
That leaves the room for a lot of potential, not merely for the fantasy genre, but for television and streaming in general. In today's media age, you really need to stand out in a major way in order to gain viewership. You can see that Amazon, in its continued desire to compete with Netflix, Disney+, HBO and all the other sources of entertainment out there, wants to make something that is gonna be huge and monumental for viewers everywhere. Of course, we'll continue to follow this series with interest. But for now, in the early days of the show's development, these are just a few reasons we are excited.
Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for all the latest and greatest updates concerning Amazon's Lord of the Rings series as they come in.
Will is an entertainment writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. His writing can also be found in The Playlist, Cut Print Film, We Got This Covered, The Young Folks, Slate and other outlets. He also co-hosts the weekly film/TV podcast Cinemaholics with Jon Negroni and he likes to think he's a professional Garfield enthusiast.
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