It has come to light on the Tolkien Collector’s Guide that Harper Collins and Houghton Mifflin have plans to publish a new book titled The Nature of Middle-earth in 2021 containing previously unpublished writings by J.R.R. Tolkien.
The book has been edited by Tolkien expert Carl F. Hostetter who heads the Elvish Linguistic Fellowship. The materials on which the book is based were sent to Hostetter in photocopy by Christopher Tolkien, before his passing, for potential publication.
The details were first released in a catalogue for the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2019. The description, excerpted from the catalogue (page 64), follows.
The first ever publication of J. R. R. Tolkien’s final writings on Middle-earth, covering a wide-range of subjects, and the perfect next read for those who have enjoyed Unfinished Tales and the History of Middle-earth series and are hungry for more.
The Nature of Middle-earth will comprise numerous late (c. 1959-73) and previously unpublished writings by J.R.R. Tolkien on the “nature” of Middle-earth, in both chief senses of that word: both metaphysical and natural/historical.
For Tolkien fans, readers, and scholars interested in learning more about Tolkien’s own views on Middle-earth. It will appeal in particular to those readers who enjoyed Unfinished Tales, and some of the later volumes of the History of Middle-earth. Indeed, many of the texts to be included are closely associated with materials published in those places, and were sent to Hostetter, specifically, in photocopy by Christopher Tolkien for potential publication.
Much as Unfinished Tales forms an unofficial thirteenth volume of the History of Middle-earth, this new book will sit very nicely alongside as an unofficial 14th volume. Of particular note, given the impending Amazon series, are several texts detailing the lands, flora, and fauna of Númenor, and the lives of Númenóreans.
Harper Collins Publishers, Frankfurt BookFair 2019, Fiction Translation Rights
Renown Tolkien scholar and author Tom Shippey is off the Lord of the Rings project, according to twitch broadcaster Tolkien Professor, confirming our early reports from March.
In a recent live stream from the Tolkien Professor – who we suggest watching & subscribing – Cory Olsen stumbles for words as he responds to a chat question about the status of his colleague Tom Shippey on Amazon’s LOTR series.
Olsen runs Signum University, the preeminent Tolkien scholar event series that travels the world bringing thoughtful, intelligent dialog to the world & works of J.R.R. Tolkien. His weekly LOTR streams have a dedicated audience that counts Stephen Colbert as an avid fan.
“I have spoken to Shippey… is he still involved? I don’t believe so.”
Cory Olsen, the Tolkien Professor
The early rumors of Shippey’s status set the community ablaze, with both reddit threads and YouTube comments becoming hotbeds of debate. On an early March episode of TORn Tuesday, it was revealed that none of the writers were currently engaged on the production and that the latest rumor was Tom Shippey was off the project. See TORn Veteran Quickbeam’s reaction starting 16:00 minutes into the show:
Fans hopes & concerns were calmed in 2019 when Amazon released a video that includes Tom Shippey in the creative team behind its billion-dollar LOTR series. Out of all the extremely talented people involved, Shippey brought a sense of authority and respect for Tolkien alongside artist John Howe. For many fans, Shippey is the iron rock that will ensure Amazon maintains fidelity to Tolkien — keeping the green showrunners in check with a focus on Tolkien’s intent. With his involvement diminished, Amazon risks alienating core fans and losing credibility among the show’s biggest champions.
Neither Amazon nor Shippey has publicly commented on the current status of their relationship. With the Tolkien Professor independently hearing the same things TORn Tuesday is hearing, there must be some truth in the air.
Tell us your thoughts! Are you concerned? Engage with us on Facebook and Twitter (@theoneringnet) to share your opinion!
Add these to your queue for a taste of the creative talent behind Amazon’s $1 Billion LOTR series
Amazon’s billion-dollar Lord of the Rings series is in production but fans want to know what to expect now that Peter Jackson isn’t crafting Middle-earth. Since many are in quarantine and looking for shows to watch, we have put together a comprehensive list of films & TV shows which the current LOTR production team have previously worked on to provide a sense of the talent behind the series. Many of the writers have worked on other book adaptations, sometimes with actors from Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth films!
Note: all watch suggestions are based on U.S. platforms, check your local region for each of these!
Penny Dreadful pilot S1E1 – S1E2
Watch on: Showtime, Amazon Prime
LOTR Director JA Bayona directed the 2-episode pilot of Penny Dreadful, setting the tone for the entire series. He is currently filming the 2-episode pilot of LOTR.
A Monster Calls
Watch on: Cinemax
Bayona directed this powerful fantasy drama of loss, despair, love and family – themes familiar to Tolkien’s Legendarium.
Watch on: Amazon Prime
LOTR writer Helen Shang was deeply involved in crafting the Red Dragon storyline for NBC’s Hannibal series, featuring Richard Armitage (Thorin).
Hooded figures seen in the dense forest under cover of night!
Here’s a phrase we haven’t used in a long, long time: A Spy Report from the set of Lord of the Rings! Ringer “David” sends word of “Hooded Guys” from the riverbanks of Auckland:
The photos were made in or near the circle. Although I walked pretty much around it nothing could be seen. Maybe there wasn’t a set anymore, maybe trees/hills got in the way. One of the people who lived there told me there was filming in the dark with bright lights on for 4 hours (I think Monday last week). He didn’t know what it was. Afterwards he saw hooded guys (which normally doesn’t mean good things) so he walked up and spoke to them. They were telling it was for filming ‘the new Lord of the Rings’.
The “circle” he references is the blue one on the far right edge of this map, while the photos below indicate a heavily wooded area where vans full of production gear were loading out.
Photos provided in the Spy Report show what is possibly the codename for the production: “GIN”
It always comes down to some wacky code word they use on set location signs. Back in the day of filming the O.G. Trilogy as Peter Jackson and team were traipsing around both North and South Islands with multiple Film Units the dead giveaway was any sign that said “JAMBOREE.” Even script pages and daily Call Sheets were printed with the pretend Boy Scout name. Many of our community members remember that code word from twenty years ago!
What can we really tell from these spy photos? Just that they’re quick to arrive and quick to leave. These actual set locations are in the past tense, so to speak. Production has already moved on from these woods as Amazon’s “2nd Age of Middle-earth” series pilot episode director J.A. Bayona posted a photo from a dry field area.
Only days ago one of the new cast members of Amazon’s $1-Billion production posted the words: “Calm before the storm.” British stage actress Sophia Nomvete is filming her first days on set for a brand new character to the Tolkien Film Legendarium.
How many of you are familiar with the physical features in this area? Any Kiwis down there who can tell us the lay of the land — what types of trees, the slope of the elevation, any such unique features that might suggest a location in Númenor or the mainland of Eregion, things like that — would be a great place to start our guesswork!
Thank you for the first Amazon LOTR Spy Report, David! If anyone else in the Auckland area notices anything… unnatural… please email firstname.lastname@example.org or hit us on Twitter & Instagram DM’s.
Aquaman & Mortal Kombat actress in recovery for potentially months.
NZ Herald reports that the injury took place during stunt rehearsals on Amazon’s billion-dollar LORD OF THE RINGS series.
Elissa Cadwell, an experienced Brisbane-based stunt woman, actor and dancer, who recently doubled for Nicole Kidman in Aquaman, is understood to have been injured during rehearsals at the sprawling Kumeu Film Studio.
Sources confirmed she fell into water in large tanks as planned, but her head struck a bolt in the process. One witness said the resulting injuries were traumatic.
She’s not back at work and won’t be for weeks, if not months. But she is ok and I understand she is being looked after.
The actress bears a resemblance to a young Galadriel, who is one of the lead characters in Amazon’s LOTR show. Director J.A. Bayona is crafting the pilot episode which, presumably, will have big underwater action sequences set in Second Age Numenor.
New Zealand’s work & safety compliance office, WorkSafe, was notified of the accident over a week after the occurrence when the press contact their office. “The cone of silence around the production really shouldn’t come into play with health and safety – that’s how Pike River happened” says Denise Roche, director of actors union Equity New Zealand.
While Weta Workshop & Weta Digital have been busy filming the water-based AVATAR sequels and AQUAMAN film with no reported set injuries, there has been no confirmation and zero hints they have been engaged to work on Amazon’s Lord of the Rings.
J.A. Bayona, director of the upcoming Amazon series set in the Second Age of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth, has arrived in Auckland and filming has begun! Well, okay, the film clip he posted to Instagram features no actors, unless the small bird in Fraser’s cafe in the urban setting of Mount Eden, a suburb of Auckland, is somehow related to the thrush of The Hobbit fame. According to Stuff.co.nz “the first piece of film he appears to have shot in New Zealand is a snapshot from Frasers cafe in Mount Eden. Bayona shared the clip to Instagram this morning. The camera appears to be focused on the cafe, then swings down to track a hopeful sparrow as it hops around some tables in search of crumbs.”
Watch the short clip here. Considering the cafe is in a very urban setting, with narry a dragon or dwarf in sight, it’s likely it was just a spur-of-the-moment snap from his phone, but exciting nonetheless.
Quoted from Deadline by Stuff:
“J.R.R. Tolkien created one of the most extraordinary and inspiring
stories of all time, and as a lifelong fan it is an honour and a joy to
join this amazing team,” he said in a statement to Deadline.
“I can’t wait to take audiences around the world back to Middle-earth and have them discover the wonders of the Second Age, with a never-before-seen story.”
In addition to directing, Bayona will also be an executive producer for the LOTR series alongside his producing partner Belén Atienza. He has been warmly welcomed by the writing team, lead by JD Payne and Patrick McKay and consulted by Game of Thrones writer Bryan Cogman.
Read more of the story at stuff.co.nz, and let us know, aside from the bird in the cafe, what in the Second Age you think the first ‘real’ filming will likely cover!
Collider announced earlier today that 23 year-old British actor Maxim Baldry “has landed a significant role” in the upcoming Amazon Middle-earth TV series. Baldry is perhaps best known so far for his role in the 2019 BBC/HBO joint production series Years and Years. According to Collider: “Character details are being kept under wraps along with plot details.” While that doesn’t give us a lot to go on, ok almost nothing to go on, we do know that the new series is set in the Second Age of Middle-earth, which narrows down, if only slightly, what “significant role” might imply.
Talent, locations, infrastructure and a warm Kiwi welcome. According to Pam Ford from the Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development agency in this piece from Radio NZ, those were the determining factors in Amazon Studios’ decision, confirmed on Tuesday, to film the upcoming Middle-earth-based TV series in New Zealand.
Quoted in stuff.co.nz, showrunners and executive producers J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay described New Zeland as indeed offering all of the criteria they were looking for: “As we searched for the location in which we could bring to life the primordial beauty of the Second Age of Middle Earth, we knew we needed to find somewhere majestic, with pristine coasts, forests, and mountains, that also is a home to world-class sets, studios, and highly skilled and experienced craftspeople and other staff”.
“And we’re happy that we are now able to officially confirm New Zealand as our home for our series based on stories from J.R.R. Tolkien‘s The Lord of the Rings. The abundant measure of Kiwi hospitality with which they have welcomed us has already made us feel right at home, and we are looking forward to deepening our partnership in the years to come.”
No doubt the prospect of a 20% to 25% rebate for every dollar spent also contributed to the ‘welcome’ factor. The good news for New Zealand is that Amazon will be spending approximately $1.0 billion of those dollars ($1.3 NZD) and will likely provide jobs that will spill over from the film industry to affect the rest of the economy for up to a decade.
Read more about the Auckland studios where filming will take place in our article from June, and be sure to listen to the full radio story linked above as it features our own staffer Garfeimao (Cathy Udovch)!
This is a follow up to the story announcing Amazon’s release of the LOTR series creative team (see link below), with a breakdown on what this announcement means for the future of the show. Afterwards, there will be a ‘reaction’ story from a Tom Shippey interview that occurred on the same day as the video was released.
Justin, the producer of our TORn Tuesday live streaming series breaks down the Amazon creative team announcement:
“This Creative Team has something for everyone that it almost feels generated by an algorithm to appeal so perfectly to all fan groups. Howe & Shippey lock in the core book, art & film fans.
Amazon got what it explicitly wanted day one — the next Game of Thrones — with 2 of the key people from HBO’s Thrones now on LOTR. Amazon is also following in the (successful) footsteps of Thrones by handing the show to a couple guys who have never produced anything, similar to HBO letting Benioff & Weiss run Thrones with zero producing experience.
JA Bayona is an inspired choice as he is Guillermo del Toro’s protege in dark storytelling. GDT financed Bayona’s first few projects and helped put Bayona on the map. With Amazon, fans may finally get something akin to what The Hobbit was shaping up to be under del Toro. Some Weta folk felt that the costume & prosthetic orc work they did under Guillermo del Toro was the best the workshop had ever done, so it would be wonderful to bring forth some of that practical creativity under GDT’s heir apparent Juan Antonio Bayona.
“Peak TV” fans will appreciate the writers room of people who wrote some of the best episodes of Westworld, Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, Hannibal. Those are all somewhat dark & twisted fantasies which LOTR second age also is.
Amazon’s corporate development team along with this LOTR writers room and production team is probably the most diverse multi-lingual creative group ever to work in Middle-earth. Tolkien wrote that LOTR is “fundamentally linguistic in inspiration… “ so it is wonderful to have a global group of filmmakers bringing in the next chapter of Tolkien’s legacy.”
Shortly after the video was released by Amazon, Tom Shippey did an exclusive interview with the folks at Tolkien Gesellschaft and he let a few very interesting tidbits out of the bag.
Shippey confirms this map is from the Second Age, but then also admits we don’t know a lot of detail about the Second Age, and that the end of the Second Age on a map looks much like the beginning of the Third Age. Of course, with Numenor on the Map, that puts us closer to the early or middle part of the Second Age. He stresses that you have to be clear where in Middle-earth history the story will begin so that it matches what this map is hinting at.
Another really important fact is that Shippey clears up a lot about what sort of filming rights Amazon has, and how much freedom they do and don’t have when filling in the empty spots in their stories. Amazon must follow the history that Tolkien did write, such as Sauron invading Eriador, being forced back by a Numenorean force, his return to Numenor and seducing them to break the ban with the Valar. So, they have a road map, but they get to choose the route and fill in all the things seen and encountered on that road.
Shippey doesn’t know much detail on when and where filming will begin, but we previously announced that New Zealand looks to be where the bulk of filming will be. He also mentioned that a Brian Miller was supposed to be the overall director, but since he didn’t feature in the video he surmises that things changed. It is interesting that Shippey seems to share our desire that more news was forthcoming. Yes, all these little teases arouse curiosity, but sooner or later you have to satisfy that curiosity.
Read the article to learn more details from Tom Shippey.
Amazon Prime’s Twitter and Facebook accounts have just dropped a new video introducing fans to the team of creators behind their new “Lord of the Rings” Prequel Series!
This includes such faces as showrunners J.D. Payne & Patrick McKay, as well the vast team of accomplished writers, producers, director J.A. Bayona, our beloved Tolkien artist John Howe and renowned Tolkien scholar Tom Shippey (yours truly would be lying if he didn’t say these last two fill him particularly with joy!).
If you’re one of the lucky fans attending San Diego Comic-Con this weekend, don’t forget to swing by our presentation tomorrow night, July 20, from 6:45 to 7:45 p.m. in room 6DE. The room is already filling up, so be sure to get there early! For all of you Hobbits, Elves and Orcs who attend in costume, directly after the panel there will be a group photo taken on the steps behind the convention center, facing the Bay and the Coronado Bridge. In true Hobbity fashion, after the Cosplay photo, we’ll also be having in ice cream social at Ghirardelli, 643 Fifth Ave., San Diego, CA 92101. Show up between 8:15pm through about 9pm or so and there may be a few little mathoms handed out as well.
More details about the panel below, and don’t forget to RSVP on the SDCC SCHED page for the panel linked below.
*** TheOneRing.net (TORn) staffers Josh “Elessar” Long (host of Collecting the Precious), Jon “Tookish” Ben-Asher (former associate editor for TORn), Hannah “Took” Greenwood (co-host of TORn Tuesday, associate staff at WETA Workshop), and Josh “Sarumann” Rubinstein (former host of TORn Bookclub) celebrate 20 years of talking Tolkien and all things Middle-earth. They will be discussing all the current known news and maybe a rumor or two, reminiscing about some of their biggest stories and events in the past, and laying out a schedule of some of their 20th anniversary events. The Tolkien movie has already hit theaters, but the Amazon Lord of the Rings (LOTR) series is full-steam ahead in preproduction and this panel’s got some tantalizing news on that front. Bring your favorite stories about a TORn event or story they posted to discuss-they really want to focus on the community that TheOneRing.net has created these past 20 years. Costumes are welcome and encouraged. Cathy “Garfeimao” Udovch (special events coordinator) moderates.
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