Amazon officially announces new director for its Lord of the Rings TV series and the cast immediately celebrated online.

Director Charlotte Brändström, drink in hand, is seen with New Zealand scenery behind her and a camera operator on her left - on set for Amazon's Lord of the Rings tv show.
Director Charlotte Brändström on set for Lord of the Rings in New Zealand

Accomplished director Charlotte Brändström, who worked with Amazon’s Man in the High Castle as well as Netflix’s Jupiter Ascending and The Witcher, is the latest addition to the large cast and crew of this huge Second Age show. Actor Nazanin Boniadi, who has a lead role in LOTR, posted, “I can’t think of anyone better to break ground as the first woman director to ever helm Tolkien.”

Quite simply, she. is. AMAZING! Nothing short of a creative genius.

LOTR actor Sophia Nomvete on director Charlotte Brändström

Maze Runner actor Dylan Smith, who is rumored to play a major dwarf character, adds on social “A truly talented director!” While major star-in-the-wings Ismael Cruz Cordova says Brändström is a “A Powerhouse.”

Amazon’s Lord of the Rings TV show is currently shooting in New Zealand, with over 200 cast and crew members allowed into the country during quarantine. Brändström is a TV veteran based in LA, and hails from Sweden & France.

Head of Amazon Studios says the high budgets are for assets to be leveraged over many seasons.

Hollywood Reporter published a roundtable discussion with several studio heads, including Amazon’s Jennifer Salke; and of course the conversation turned to LORD OF THE RINGS, which is the biggest budgeted TV series in history. “This is a full season of a huge world-building show. 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.”

A day later, Amazon announced that director Wayne Yip is the newest Executive Producer of LOTR, making a baker’s dozen of 13 E.P.’s in charge; and confirmed the recent rumor of the first woman to direct for Middle-earth with Charlotte Brändström joining the production, who seems fully on board:

“I’m very excited to be guided through Middle-earth by JD’s and Patrick’s vision.”

Charlotte Brändström, LOTR Season 1 Director

Global, Global, Global

It’s no secret Amazon wants LOTR to be a global show; and they shouldn’t have to worry, since JRR Tolkien’s LORD OF THE RINGS is the worldwide best selling fictional book of the 20th century, and is still considered one of the biggest selling fantasy books in every one of the 38 languages it’s published in. New Line and WB’s Middle-earth films set international sales records, and LOTR is still the most awarded film series in history across the globe.

Amazon’s Salke reinforced her global mandate multiple times, saying, “I’m so grateful to be in the position to drive this part of our business globally… A giant, global audience needs to show up to it as appointment television, and we are pretty confident that that will happen… It’s a global storytelling world, and these companies better get on board because it’s already late.”

LOTR has always been global in nature, but this being Amazon the real global reason is simple. “As for how many people need to watch Lord of the Rings? A lot. (laughs)” says Jennifer Salke. As head of Amazon Studios reporting to Jeff Bezos, there’s probably a constant conversation about metrics. But what makes a global show now may differ from what came before, with Salke adding, “The more diverse the cast, the better; the more diverse and authentic the storytelling, the better.”

For context on the 13 E.P.’s on Amazon’s show, New Line Cinema’s Lord of the Rings had only one active Executive Producer in Mark Ordesky, with the other 4 E.P. credits going to studio heads. This could be seen as a singular visionary in charge, just as there was a singular visionary director for all the films; and just as J.R.R. Tolkien was the singular visionary who never collaborated in crafting Middle-earth.

Deadline reports The Witcher alumn is responsible for two episodes of the billion dollar series.

Director Charlotte Brändström, at work on a set.

Amazon continues to pull from its bench of creatives as director Charlotte Brändström joins the LORD OF THE RINGS TV series. The accomplished director previously worked on Amazon’s Man in the High Castle, and more recently worked on Netflix’s two fantasy series The Witcher and Jupiter’s Legacy. Interestingly, most of her TV work is limited to two episodes per show, and the current rumors from @FansFellowship (who first reported her hiring) indicate she is working on the last two episodes of the first season of LOTR.

Brändström is the first female Middle-earth director to hold the full title, following in the legacy of Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, who helped Peter Jackson direct some key scenes in his LOTR series (uncredited). She is based in Los Angeles as a graduate of the AFI film program, and speaks 4 languages: French, Swedish, English and Spanish, the latter to be very helpful as a collaborator with Spanish director JA Bayona, who is setting the tone for the entire series. She is currently in New Zealand directing the key episodes to close out the first season. Amazon has already committed to 5 seasons minimum, with S2 and S3 already in pre-production.

Amazon will get an additional 5% from more New Zealand’s Screen Production Grant, Reuters reports today.

(Reuters) New Zealand said on Friday it has agreed to give Amazon (AMZN.O) extra rebates on its expenses for the filming of “The Lord of the Rings” TV series in the country, hoping to reap multi-year economic and tourism benefits.

Amazon will get an extra 5% from New Zealand’s Screen Production Grant in addition to the 20% grant the production already qualifies for, the government said in a statement.

Amazon is estimated to be spending about NZ$650 million ($465 million) filming the first season of the show, for broadcast on its Amazon Prime streaming platform, meaning it would be eligible for a rebate of about NZ$162 million ($116 million), the government said.

“The agreement with Amazon … generates local jobs and creates work for local businesses,” Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash said in a statement. “It will enable a new wave of international tourism branding and promotion for this country.”

The first season entered production in Auckland last year with more than 1,200 people employed. Approximately 700 workers are indirectly employed by providing services to the production, the government said.

U.S.-based Amazon media officials weren’t immediately available for comment outside regular U.S. business hours.

($1 = 1.3976 New Zealand dollars)

Guest writer Matthew Bossons brings us this fascinating look at how Tolkien fandom has made its way to China; and he reflects on whether Amazon’s upcoming Middle-earth series is likely to find fans there.

Panjiayuan is Beijing’s biggest and best-known antique market, regularly attracting orc-like hordes of tourists and locals alike to wander the warren of booths and stalls, both indoor and outside. All manner of old and made-to-look-old items are on offer here: jade carvings, stone Buddha statues, ancient coins, Chinese Communist Party pins and propaganda posters, replica Korean war medals and mounds of books. 

On a brisk October day, while standing at a hawker stand specializing in old Chinese books – mostly Chairman Mao’s iconic ‘Little Red Book’ – I came across a curious title: The Art of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, in English-language and hardcover form. The book, a collection of sketches and maps made by Tolkien, was published in 2015 and compiled by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull – both well-known scholars of the ‘father of high fantasy.’

Cover of 'The Art of the Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien' - by Wayne G Hammond and Christina Scull
Continue reading “From Middle-earth to the Middle Kingdom: How Tolkien’s Grand Mythos Found Its Way to China”

Amazon Studios has announced the casting of ‘Young Gollum,’ voiced by renowned character actor and comedian Patton Oswalt. (YES – This was an April Fool’s Day Prank – 2021!)

Patton Oswalt Cast at Baby Gollum

With a celebrated ensemble cast already gathered for Amazon’s show, this latest release implies that Oswalt will voice a child-like Smeagol character. It goes without saying that a ‘Young Gollum’ did not exist in the initial intended scope of the show, nor in the scope of the rights purchased from the Tolkien Estate. The addition of a – dare we say it – ‘Baby Gollum’ appears to be a clear attempt to attract a broader and younger audience. The vast majority of us at TheOneRing.net are big fans of Oswalt – so we look forward to seeing where this goes!

AMAZON STUDIOS ANNOUNCES VOICE TALENT PATTON OSWALT FOR THE LORD OF THE RINGS TELEVISION SERIES

The Grammy(R), Emmy(R) and Vangard Award(R) Winner joins the Ensemble Cast to Lend His Vocal Talents to Young Gollum.

(CULVER CITY, Calif. – April 1st 2021) – Amazon Studios today announces Patton Oswalt will lend his voice talent as Gollum in the Amazon Original series based on the iconic ‘The Lord of the Rings’ novels by J.R.R. Tolkien. Patton will join the previously announced global cast and crew, currently filming in New Zealand.

“We are so excited to breathe new life to the early history of this immensely popular character,” said executive producer and showrunner [retracted name]. “When you delve into the struggle of Gollum, and his alter-ego Smeagol, a plethora of possibilities leaps out. It’s a tale which is crying out to be told.”

The character of Gollum first appears in J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’, with subsequent appearances in the War of the Ring saga of the Third Age of Middle-earth. Made popular by the Rankin/Bass production in the late 1970s, and then expertly brought to screen in Peter Jackson’s epic trilogies of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’, amazing adventures lie in store for the halfling-like creature, as his prequel stories unfold.

The character will originally be fully realized as a small child through the talents of WETA Digital, and given voice, (initially coos and caws), by the talented Oswalt.

“Its been a lifelong dream to work in the realm of J.R.R. Tolkien. I can’t wait to get started!” said Patton.

Set in Middle-earth, the Amazon television adaptation will explore new storylines preceding J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’. A world-renowned literary work, and winner of the International Fantasy Award and Prometheus Hall of Fame Award, ‘The Lord of the Rings’ was named Amazon customers’ favorite book of the millennium in 1999, and Britain’s best-loved novel of all time in BBC’s ‘The Big Read’ in 2003. ‘The Lord of the Rings’ has been translated into around 40 languages, and has sold more than 150 million copies. Its theatrical adaptations from New Line Cinema and director Peter Jackson earned a combined gross of nearly $6 billion worldwide, and garnered 17 Academy Awards®, including Best Picture (‘The Return of the King’).

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