Pre-production of season two starts January 2022 and will be shot in the U.K. using the growing soundstage pipeline for other Amazon shows including Good Omens and Anansi Boys.
New Zealand is the production home for Season 1 of Amazon’s huge Lord of the Rings Second Age (First Age?) series, as it was 20 years ago when Peter Jackson took on adapting the main book trilogy. This announcement moving production to the U.K. may be bittersweet to fans as New Zealand has become the visual identity of Middle-earth, yet Tolkien wrote his stories to be a uniquely English mythology. This is a homecoming of sorts.
Early on in the show’s development, there were rumors that Scotland was competing with NZ for the very large production budget spend. Fans breathed a sigh of comfort when Amazon announced it was filming in NZ. Then the pandemic happened, which created incredible hardships for the large cast of which over 60% are British. With COVID still affecting society worldwide, it makes sense for all involved to be closer to home.
No word yet if S2 will be shot EXCLUSIVELY in U.K. or if they may have Second Units in New Zealand taking advantage of the gorgeous and familiar landscape.
Full press release below:
The Lord of the Rings Original Series Sets Season Two in the U.K. Pre-production expected to begin early 2022
CULVER CITY, Calif. – Aug. 12, 2021 – Amazon Studios announced today that its untitled The Lord of the Rings original series will film Season Two in the United Kingdom (U.K.). The shift from New Zealand to the U.K. aligns with the studio’s strategy of expanding its production footprint and investing in studio space across the U.K., with many of Amazon Studios’ tentpole series and films already calling the U.K. home. The highly anticipated The Lord of the Rings series recently wrapped principal photography on Season One in New Zealand and is scheduled to premiere on Prime Video in more than 240 countries around the world on Friday, September 2, 2022.
“We want to thank 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,” said Vernon Sanders, VP and Co-Head of TV, Amazon Studios. “We are grateful to the New Zealand Film Commission, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Tourism New Zealand, Auckland Unlimited, and others for their tremendous collaboration that supported the New Zealand film sector and the local economy during the production of Season One.” Season One post production will continue in New Zealand through June 2022, and pre-production on Season Two will begin concurrently in the U.K. after the first of the year.
“As we look to relocate the production to the U.K., we do not intend to actively pursue the Season One MoU five percent financial uplift with the New Zealand government or preserve the terms around that agreement, however we respectfully defer to our partners and will remain in close consultation with them around next steps,” said Albert Cheng, COO & Co-Head of TV, Amazon Studios.
The new epic drama brings to screens for the very first time J.R.R. Tolkien’s fabled Second Age of Middle- earth’s history. Beginning in a time of relative peace, thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings books, 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.
The series is led by showrunners and executive producers J.D. Payne & Patrick McKay. They are joined by executive producers Lindsey Weber, Callum Greene, J.A. Bayona, Belén Atienza, Justin Doble, Jason Cahill, Gennifer Hutchison, Bruce Richmond, and Sharon Tal Yguado. Wayne Che Yip is co-executive producer and directs along with J.A. Bayona and Charlotte Brändström. Christopher Newman is a producer and Ron Ames isa co-producer.
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 books has been translated in around 40 languages and has sold more than 150 million copies.
Anyone who tells you that they expected the first promotional image for the LOTR on Prime series to reveal an iconic panorama of Valinor — the land of angelic beings of Middle-earth — is either a liar or is inside the production.
Because I’m certain that there was nothing in previously teased material and maps that even hints at Valinor.
What’s more, this single image is as much of a statement as a certain someone recently flying to the very edge of space.
At first, you think: “Well, it’s another Middle-earth city. But, hey, it’s pretty cool.” You’re expecting, perhaps, Armenelos or Rómenna on the island of Númenór. After all, we know the series is supposed to encompass the rise and fall of the island kingdom and there does seem to be a glittering body of water even if it’s a bit small to be a bay, much less the ocean.
Then your eye is drawn inexorably to the background glow and it dawns that what you thought was merely the sun nearly (and neatly) conceals a pair of colossal trees.
And in an instant your whole worldview of the series just … changes.
Because, you know — if you’ve tried your hand at reading The Silmarillion or have delved into the pre-history of The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit — that these aren’t just any pair of trees.
The tree of silver and the tree of gold that are the source of all light in Valinor. That provide the light for Fëanor’s Silmarils, and ultimately for the Phial of Galadriel. And whose destruction triggers a cascade of events that stretches all the way to the end of the Third Age.
If anything can be, this is the heart of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth mythmaking.
LOTR on Prime has enormous ambitions and it’s not afraid to declare as much.
It’s declaring that it’s here to challenge the Peter Jackson movies as the definitive visual depiction of Tolkien’s Middle-earth.
It’s declaring that it has the talent, technology and resources, and access to the necessary source material.
I think, above all, LOTR on Prime is declaring to Tolkien fans that it doesn’t want to be underestimated.
It’s declaring that it’s not simply making a Game of Thrones clone for the mass market.
And it’s declaring that they’re going to take us, the readers of Tolkien’s work, to places that we never thought would be possible in a film or a TV series.
Sure, we already knew some of that — intellectually. We knew we were promised 50-odd hours of telly over five seasons. And, we knew that the rights and production investment runs into hundreds of millions of dollars. But you just can’t /feel/ a series of numbers.
This, on the other hand… this is real. Real, tangible proof that we’re on a journey to somewhere special.
Strap in, kids, we’re about to blast off into space.
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Yesterday we got our first official image from Amazon’s billion-dollar TV series, along with confirmation of a launch date of September 2, 2022. (It’s interesting to note that Amazon has launched many of their other big series on Labor Day weekend, including The Boys with Karl Urban, Carnival Row with Orlando Bloom, and Jack Ryan.) Amazon have also confirmed that the episodes will be released weekly; so we’ll be back to Game of Thrones style ‘event’ television.
Today we can let you know that the image is in fact a shot from the first episode, directed by JA Bayona. Our staff have all be excitedly poring over the image, and wondering what exactly it reveals. Here are their reactions, below:
The incredibly secretive billion-dollar TV series release confirms a launch date of September 2, 2022, for what has been filming for nearly 18 months in New Zealand. Looks like post production, VFX work and more will take more than a year to complete.
First OFFICIAL photo: Amazon’s LOTR
Here is the first official pic of Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings, the biggest TV series in history, from showrunners Patrick McKay and J.D. Payne!
Curiously, the announcement begins with “yet-to-be titled”, which means the actual series may be called something new. Fandom has been split on this idea – The Lord of the Rings is the biggest selling book of the 20th century, and a well-known brand, familiar in all languages; and the Second Age story is of Sauron, who is the actual lord of the rings. On the other hand, casual viewers might be confused by naming the show the same as the feature films, where they might expect a reboot going in.
Numenor is a central location in Amazon’s billion dollar Lord of the Rings series, and now we have the first description of the peoples of the island, thanks to the intrepid Fellowship of Fans.
Guilds as Tolkien wrote
According to leaked set reports, Numenorians have trade guilds and wear patches marking their trade allegiance according the extras on the set. This is actually true to the books and maintains #FidelityToTolkien.
This seems to confirm that Amazon has licensed stories from UNFINISHED TALES by J.R.R. Tolkien, a book posthumously edited & published by Christopher Tolkien. If we look at page 170:
Among the wrights of the Edain were weaponsmiths, and they had with the teaching of the Noldor acquired great skill in the forging of swords, of axe-blades, and of spearheads and knives. Swords the Guild of Weaponsmiths still made, for the preservation of the craft, though most of their labour was spent on the fashioning of tools for the uses of peace.
Numenor is like Themyscira?
Further in Unfinished Tales it describes a horse & bow culture similar to what movie audiences have recently seen in Wonder Woman. With lead WW stuntwoman Dayna Grant recently in the news, it’s not too much of a stretch to consider her skillset is perfect for how Tolkien describes Numenorians:
The King and most of the great chieftains possessed swords as heirlooms of their fathers; and at times they would still give a sword as a gift to their heirs. A new sword was made for the King’s Heir to be given to him on the day on which this title was conferred. But no man wore a sword in Numenor, and for long years few indeed were the weapons of warlike intent that were made in the land. Axes and spears and bows they had, and shooting with bows on foot and on horseback was a chief sport and pastime of the Numenoreans.
Amazon Studios’ “The Lord of the Rings” Second Age series has been notoriously secretive during the 18-month production, but inside info is finally trickling out of the billion dollar series thanks to anonymous Spy Reports coming out of New Zealand. We have been able to verify most of today’s report as currently accurate per sources that are involved with the Production.
Most of these Spy Reports have come to us in short form bullet points, and are shared as such below [with additional context and editorial in brackets from Staff Writer and weekly host Clifford Broadway]. Our spy hotline is still the same after 21 years and our DM’s are open on twitter & instagram! To celebrate the hard-working artists and craftspeople working with such passion way down in New Zealand we shed light on their efforts and help include them in the embrace of fan enthusiasm. As with previous intrepid filmmakers tackling a version of Tolkien; the fandom fully indulges our unbridled curiosity with an open hand while shouting support from afar—a grand tradition of an engaged fandom.
Lore, Legal Rights & the Tolkien Estate
First off, we are hearing that the Tolkien Estate is very happy with how things are progressing. Seems they really are more involved in this Production than with any previous LOTR adaptation ever [including the Bakshi version in 1978 and the six Middle-earth films from Peter Jackson; per the terms of the newest deal] and are thus enjoying the creative process. The overall plan for the show has instilled confidence in the Production and more story rights have been assigned to the show.
*CONFIRMED* for the 1st time EVER: elements & passages from “The Silmarillion” and “Unfinished Tales” are licensed by Amazon Studios for this adaptation [we broadly speculate those are sections of the book relative to Númenor and Rings of Power including full rights to stories licensed in the Appendices of “The Lord of the Rings,” which already mention Númenor and much more. Actors had posted instagram pics from Silm over the last 18 months.]
Amazon DOES have merchandising rights
Three lore experts / Tolkien scholars were on set for a time during production
Tolkien Estate is said to be very happy with how things are progressing
Men, Elves and Dwarves have their own sequestered production units for the different Free Peoples [this intriguing bit rather suggests the narrative might be constructed across wide time jumps or told from pockets of different historical viewpoints, perhaps even an anthology approach rotating characters from the various Free Peoples all reacting to the same thing, or just not cooperating with each other in Season 1: but over what timelines we still do not know].
Scripts are only digitally shared among actors and crew under draconian control mechanisms to track any persons who could access them
There is a fake production team shooting decoy footage on fake sets unrelated to the real Production – [thus making some “reports of location sightings” false leads by tricksy hobbitses and we must admit this is very clever indeed! Peter Jackson never used decoys!]
Main unit wrapped shooting in April 2021; while many actors are back in the U.K. or are now on other productions
J.A. Bayona’s episodes are a standalone entry point to the series [like a feature film]
There are more incredible directors and big stars yet to be announced
LOTR & Wheel of Time are sharing crew & directors
They are aiming for a mid-2022 release [that is only one short year away and must mean the pressure on Post Production must be remarkable]
Men, Elves, Dwarves & “Early Halflings”
Welcome to the Second Age of the Middle-earth Cinematic Universe, full of corruption, wandering, and a lack of alliances.
Some Halflings are dark skin precursors to Shire-hobbits quite possibly “one of three somewhat different breeds” maybe Harfoots; [described by Tolkien in the Prologue to LOTR ‘Concerning Hobbits’ pg. 12: “they were browner of skin,” and also “they moved westward early,” alluding to a time in their Wandering Days, or perhaps earlier when they kept no records of their journeys over the Misty Mountains westward (which may explain a little of why any early antecedents of pre-Shire migration hobbits would appear here in the Second Age instead of Third Age narrative)]
Sir Lenny Henry portrays one such early halfling [Harfoot]
Celebrimbor the ringmaker has been recast
Tom Budge was in that role
Certain creatures are referred to as Ice Trolls because they can’t be called Cave Trolls (Warner Bros. licensing restriction)
Nudity is sparse and not sexualized— contrary to earlier concerns: but rather this artistic choice represents very dark thematic material suggestive of concentration camp-type visuals of victims, a harrowing portrayal of the corruption of the Elves by dark powers to ultimately become Orcs Editors note: if this plays out fully it will may well be one of the most ambitious things undertaken by this production and perhaps by anyone attempting to adapt Tolkien
Elves will have short/ shorter hairstyles [cue the Twitter threads, both pro and con, and the voting polls, and endless constellations of lovely fan art, so please bring it fans; I’m here for it]
Sauron/Annatar will not be revealed in Season One [going with the oldest axiom of show business “Always leave them wanting more.”]
Tune into #TORnTuesday as Quickbeam breaks down all these juicy spy reports in detail. Subscribe on YouTube! We still have a long way to go until Amazon’s LOTR TV show releases, so if you hear anything drop a note to firstname.lastname@example.org