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.
This special edition looks at J.R.R. Tolkien’s history, creativity and his influence on current works in the fantasy genre.
This edition also includes articles on the biopic “Tolkien” in theatres now, and Amazon’s television series in a stunning, high-quality, glossy 100-page issue filled with full-page photos. Another wonderful collectible by Newsweek in its 3rd Tolkien Special Editions on newsstands and store check-out lanes until June 29, 2019. [Topix Media Specials]
And like that, it was over. March Madness is put to bed for another year; all that remains for us to do is announce our Grand Champion 2019.
We started back on March 19, with 64 locations facing off in four brackets: The Shire, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion. Each round saw some fairly close fights, and some strange pairings (Lonely Mountain vs Misty Mountains! Bag End taking on Hobbiton!). In the very first round, what some say are Tolkien’s ‘two towers’ (Barad-dur and Isengard) faced off. The only battle which matched one found in the Professor’s books was in Round 2, when Fangorn Forest marched to Isengard. Alas, my personal favourite (the Green Dragon, naturally!) fell in Round 3.
Of our two finalists, both started off with pretty easy journeys through the rounds. Early on, Numenor gave Gondolin the biggest challenge, but even they could only take 40% against the elvish city. In the fourth round, however, Gondolin faced tougher competition, and just narrowly defeated the other very strong contender from the Silmarillion bracket, Valinor. And in the Final Four, Gondolin again had a hard time of it, securing victory by just 3% over the Lonely Mountain!
Rivendell, on the other hand, pretty much cruised through; even against Lothlorien, Elrond’s home in the valley was still able to take two thirds of the vote. Did that make Rivendell the favourite in the epic final?
The votes have been counted, and the margin between the two locations was just about 15%. Without further ado, we can reveal this year’s Middle-earth Map March Madness Grand Champion:
Yes, as the early rounds would seem to indicate, Rivendell was the firm favourite. They will be singing tra-la-la-lally there down in the valley to celebrate, no doubt!
Many thanks to all of you who played along, voted, and commented. We always enjoy seeing folks taking part in our version of March Madness, and reading what you have to say. Let us know what you thought of this year’s theme in the comments below, or on Facebook. We hope you’ll join the fun again next year!
And then there were two… After two weeks of battles between some of the key locations of Middle-earth, we’re down to the two places which will fight it out to see who will be Grand Champion 2019.
Two tough duels made up the semi-final. On one side, Bag End took on Rivendell; and as hard as that hole in the ground tried, it just could not overcome the power of Lord Elrond. In the end, Rivendell took almost two thirds of the vote in this contest.
On the other side, Gondolin faced off against the Lonely Mountain; and this was an epic fight indeed! The difference came down to less than 3%! But once again, the magic of the elves won through, and Gondolin just defeated Erebor. The dwarves will not be pleased!
So now the hidden city takes on the hidden valley! Two elvish realms face off in the final: Rivendell vs Gondolin. Which location will be the ultimate victor? YOU DECIDE! Voting in the Final is open now, and only goes for TWO days, until 10pm EST on Friday 5 April. So don’t delay! Rally the troops and VOTE NOW on this post! The Grand Champion will be crowned on Saturday!
In a TORn exclusive, we’ve learned Amazon Prime intends to not just break new ground in its new Middle-earth TV show, but blow fantasy apart with a bold move in the offing.Viewers will be able to interact with the show and decide what choices key characters will make. The choose-your-own-adventure approach could provide up to five hours of viewing per episode in the 10-episode first season.
The end is nigh; just two rounds of Middle-earth Map March Madness 2019 remain! We’re down to 4 locations; which are still in with a chance for the title of Grand Champion 2019?
Three of our four categories in this round ended up with roughly two thirds to one third results. In The Shire this saw Bag End conquer its home, Hobbiton. In the Hobbit section, the one overcame the many, as The Lonely Mountain defeated the Misty Mountains. And in the Lord of the Rings bracket, the power of the elves remained strong: Minas Tirith could not overthrow Rivendell.
In the Silmarillion group, however, the battle was much closer; and this time, elvish magic did not win the day. Valinor took an early lead, but in the end it was Gondolin which came out victorious, in a narrow victory with 52% of the vote.
Now the brackets mix, for our final two rounds! Bilbo will have to choose between his own home in The Shire, and the home he loves to visit down in the valley, as Bag End takes on Rivendell. Gondolin marches for the Lonely Mountain; can men overthrow the dwarvish kingdom of Erebor? Will it be elvish stronghold vs dwarvish realm in the final, or will a simple hole in the ground (but not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, mind you) be facing off against a mountain? YOU DECIDE! Voting in the Semi Finals is open now, until 10pm EST on Wednesday 3 April. Tell your friends; get your supporters lined up; and VOTE NOW on this post!
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