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:

From Episode 1 of LOTR project

Amazon Studios’

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.

Our friends at Asmus Toys have launched a new line of collectibles that I believe fans are really going to love. Starting this Fall, fans will be able to acquire what Asmus is refering to as limited articulation figures. The first collectible that fans will be able to snag is the Balrog; which, as a fan of this character, makes me very happy. It’s really exceptional looking. If space is an issue don’t fret, because this statue is coming in at 11 inches tall with the wings. (Other figures Lurtz and the newly teased Azog will both be in the 8″ tall range.) You can get the Balrog right now at Sideshow for $110, which is a great price point for collectors. If you’re looking to get something that is cool, doesn’t take up a ton of shelf space, and has a price point that may enable you to collect them all, I think you’ll want to check this out.

Our friends at Weta Workshop had themselves one heck of a Comic-Con at Home 2021, with the goodies they’ve unveiled for us. We have a new Mini Epic, helms, a premium statue, a new master collection statue – and that’s just from Middle-earth! The new Mini Epic is this year’s Comic-Con Exclusive. It’s a variant of Saruman, but this time holding his staff and Gandalf’s staff as well. This piece comes in with a price tag of $49.99(US), and an edition size online of only 400 pieces.

If you’re a fan of the helm line then this Comic-Con was for you, as you got three new additions: two from The Hobbit Trilogy and one from The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. The two from The Hobbit represent helms we saw on the Ringwraiths during the Dol Guldur sequence. Fans can add the helm of the Ringwraiths Khand and Harad, with both pieces coming in at $79.99(US). The Lord of the Rings is being represented by the Uruk-hai Captain’s Helm, which also comes in at $79.99(US). The edition size of these three pieces will be set by the number of orders placed by August 5th.

This year’s premium statue is the Lord of the Rings himself, Sauron. This statue is a monster in size, and amazing in paint as well as detail. Fans who order him will get – for the first time ever – alternate weapons, with one of them being from a deleted scene! He also comes with a base which contains led lights, to give a glowing lava effect. Sauron comes in with a price tag of $999(US), and fans have time to save for this superb piece as he’s not shipping until 2nd quarter of next year. Like the helms, Sauron’s edition size is being set by orders received through August 5th.

Continue reading “Collecting The Precious – Weta Workshop’s Comic-Con 2021 Goodies”

This is part one of a two part interview with Julia Golding, founder of Project Northmoor and the Oxford Centre for Fantasy, which is dedicated to creativity and the study of Oxford’s most famous fantasy writer, J.R.R. Tolkien. Like Tolkien, she studied at the University of Oxford where she received a Doctorate in English Literature. Her CV includes British diplomat and Oxfam policy adviser, as well as multi-award winning author of children’s and young adult novels, with over a half a million books sold worldwide, which have been translated into many languages.

Julia Golding

Mithril: What is your first memory of reading Tolkien?

Julia: Your question reminded me that I had a first unsuccessful attempt at reading The Hobbit too young on my own (around 6 or 7) which put me off Tolkien. I wish someone had read it to me – or steered me towards a recording –because it took me a long while to rediscover The Hobbit. But then came the summer when I was ten. I decided to try Tolkien again but started with The Lord of the Rings. I have a vivid memory of lying on a sofa in my childhood home in Essex, suburban Southeast England. I can even conjure up the feeling of the sofa fabric and the cool room with the sunny road outside. I was enchanted, completely lost in his world. I got to the end, and immediately went back to The Fellowship of the Ring, because I couldn’t stand for the experience to end – so I carried on lying down reading. It really was a turning point for me; ever since then he has helped inspire my passion for creating worlds in fiction.

Mithril: You’ve written over 60 novels, and once said “[Tolkien] is a key influence over the way I write and the reason I became an author.” Can you delve into this a bit more?

Julia: It is connected to his example as a creator of myth. He wrote about us being sub-creators, how we can be a little like a god to our own worlds. I love the idea that we each have the ability to create these microcosm universes, decide the rules and nature of the worlds, invent the peoples, their behaviour, culture and languages. Tolkien led by example. His enduring appeal to me is as a uniquely creative mind whose subcreation has unrivalled internal consistency, length, breadth and depth.

I was also inspired by how he wrote about the things that mattered to him by using them to power the structure holding up Middle-earth. He didn’t come at you with an obvious allegory and bash you over the head with the application; he famously wrote in the Preface to The Fellowship of the Ring that: ‘I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence.’

That doesn’t mean, of course, there aren’t values or messages to be drawn, but these are those connected with the reader’s experience. You can be a person of faith, no faith, and from the whole range of world cultures, and still there will be something important there for you. He found great power in such stories as those where the hero sacrifices themselves, displays humanity to the enemy, or fights a battle where victory is also a kind of defeat – all of which can be linked to source stories ranging from the Bible to George MacDonald and William Morris, via Old Norse sagas and Anglo-Saxon poetry. This method of using the things you find powerful as a code underlying your own story showed me how to draw on what I care about to create something uniquely mine – and hopefully the reader senses this and cares too.

The University of Oxford © Steven Vacher bit.ly/3kPBZN7

Mithril: You hold a Doctorate in English Literature from the University of Oxford. While there, did you study Tolkien’s works?

Julia:  I studied Tolkien when I did my undergraduate degree, which was in [the University of] Cambridge back in the mists of time. I wrote a final year paper on Tolkien and C.S. Lewis looking at their different approaches to mythopoeia. I didn’t become a professional writer for another fifteen years, but that third-year thesis stayed with me.

Tolkien’s House on Northmoor Road ©Owen Massey McKnight bit.ly/2V5W86P

Mithril: You are the founder of Project Northmoor, a center for creative studies with a focus on fantasy and J.R.R. Tolkien. How did the idea for this come about? Can you talk about the process of pulling it together?

Julia:  This all came out of the attempt to buy Tolkien’s house, which began in November 2020, launching in December that year – all in super-quick time as we were trying to buy it before anyone else did. I live close by the house. When I cycle past, I have always thought it would make a perfect creative writing centre and would be a wonderful way to honour Tolkien’s legacy. There isn’t anywhere like that in the UK, which is astonishing considering his global importance as a writer. When we started the campaign to buy it, we decided the idea of having a literary centre in Oxford was a valid goal even if we didn’t achieve our aim for the house. We wanted to provide a place for those who love Oxford fantasy to come for inspiration. When we didn’t make the target in the first three months, we had to stop as the vendor wanted to take another offer. Such a shame as we really gave it our best shot! Many Tolkien fans around the world were really generous but there just weren’t enough of us to get us over the line. We then went to plan b and began looking for another venue for the centre. However, that meant we started off online. That was a blessing in disguise as it made us think outside the box of what residential creative centres usually offer. We could be global from the outset, building a wonderful community of creatives who are inspired by Tolkien and other Oxford fantasy writers.

In the second part of this interview, we’ll share a video where Julia visits a barrow which may have helped inspire the Barrow Downs scene in The Fellowship of the Ring.

Newly-announced 2D animated feature to be produced by Warner Bros. Animation and Adult Swim team.

War of the Rohirrim
Anime feature film from New Line Cinema set in LOTR

The rumors are true: Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema held onto the feature film rights to Middle-earth and are expanding Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth Cinematic Universe with a new 2D animated movie ‘The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim.’ Directed by Kenji Kamiyama, who is celebrated for his work on ‘Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex’ and ‘Ultraman,’ the studio has brought on the Emmy-winning writers who universally delighted fans with ‘The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance’ (creators Jeffrey Addiss and Will Matthews) to collaborate with Philippa Boyens.

Adult Swim’s Toonami executive Jason Demarco is on board as Producer. Besides being one of the leading creatives to bring anime to America, he is a huge Lord of the Rings fan and recently produced a Blade Runner anime series.

Wait, I thought Amazon had all the Tolkien rights now?

What we’ve heard from those who know, and reading the carefully worded press releases from both Amazon and WB over the last few years, here’s what is going on with the rights to Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings… The big thing is the fans win.

Allegedly the Tolkien Estate has brokered the rights to Middle-earth in such a way that Warner Bros. keeps feature film & motion picture rights, while Amazon can make all the TV series they want. In the first press announcement of the Amazon deal it was explicitly noted that Amazon intended “5 seasons minimum plus spinoff shows” — a clear sign that the monumental price would be recouped through many TV shows. Both companies own rights to The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and *anything* mentioned in the Appendices. Amazon cannot make movies, and WB cannot make TV series. The most interesting part of this new ‘War of the Rohirrim’ anime is that WB is known for direct Blu-ray releases (their excellet D.C. Comics animated films) and TV series like the popular Harley Quinn. It seems neither WB, New Line nor Adult Swim have ever released a major anime film theatrically worldwide so this will be a first as legally they probably have to release it theatrically.

Will it be set in Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth Cinematic Universe (the MeCU)?

YES. Warner Bros Animation head says “We’re honored to partner with much of the incredible talent behind both film trilogies” a direct acknowledgement of the intention to stay in PJ’s MeCU. Oscar-winning writer of LOTR & Hobbit Philippa Boyens is credited as a consultant on this production.

The anime story is centered on an earlier King, Helm Hammerhand, who left his legendary mark on the history of Rohan such that his kin still talk about him centuries later. “The horn of Helm Hammerhand shall sound in the deep…” for the first time in this movie!

Our Staffer and Livestream Host Clifford “Quickbeam” Broadway has the most direct recommendation for those wanting details from Tolkien himself. Clifford states: “The most salient details of the Ninth King of Rohan are readily found in your copy of The Return of the King in APPENDIX A: ANNALS OF THE KINGS AND RULERS — just jump to Section II “THE HOUSE OF EORL” and find the paragraph opening with: ‘Of the Kings of the Mark between Eorl and Theoden most is said of Helm Hammerhand’ (page 346 HMCo Hardcover edition). And no, absolutely no, Helm Hammerhand did *not* become a Nazgul as depicted in the video game Shadow of War. Also there is a very brief note of reference Christopher Tolkien made: look at Unfinished Tales, Part Three: The Third Age, Section V “The Battles of the Fords of Isen” and see his endnote #4 if you’re as nerdy as I am about this.”


Kenji Kamiyama directed Ghost in the Shell and Eden of the East, and wrote for Blood the Last Vampire. Three of the best animes ever made. Now I’m incredibly excited about this, it’s like I had an early Christmas

Originally tweeted by 🐉🏇 🐲Marie Błð 🇮🇪 🏇🐉 (@EalaEarendel) on June 10, 2021.

Helm Hammerhand, from The Two Towers at Helms Deep
The horn in The Two Towers

“All of us at New Line feel a deep affinity for the extraordinary world J.R.R. Tolkien created, so the opportunity to dive back into Middle-earth with the team at Warner Bros. Animation is a dream come true. Fans know Helm’s Deep as the stage for one of the greatest battles ever put to film and, with many of the same creative visionaries involved and the brilliant Kenji Kamiyama at the helm, we couldn’t be more excited to deliver a fresh vision of its history that will invite global audiences to experience the rich, complex saga of Middle-earth in a thrilling new way.”

Warner Bros. Pictures Group COO Carolyn Blackwood and New Line president and CCO, Richard Brener

Harken back in time and you will recall that “The Hobbit” Rankin/Bass 1977 telefilm is billed as an American production but indeed was animated in Japan by TopCraft (much of this animation team would later go on to form Studio Ghibli, the standard-bearers of the greatest anime films ever). The team now working on ‘War of the Rohirrim’ is some of the top talent in the industry today. Casting is currently underway for voice actors, so we expect this new film to be released in theaters worldwide in 2023 or later.

We’re happy to announce as a surprise tomorrow our friends Diamond Select Toys will be launching series 4 of their awesome The Lord of the Rings figure line.

Gandalf the Grey makes his debut in the line, with his staff and his sword Glamdring, and the other figure in the assortment is a customizable Uruk-hai, including multiple interchangeable heads and weapons. Each features over 16 points of articulation, and each comes packaged in a full-color window box. Designed by Eamon O’Donoghue, sculpted by Gentle Giant Studios. These figures go up for pre-order tomorrow and with a price tag of $29.99.

Like last year, there will be no in-person San Diego Comic-Con this summer. That hasn’t stopped our friends DST from creating something very cool! This exclusive two-pack of Lord of the Rings action figures lets the cat out of the bag, showing Frodo in his completely invisible mode, wearing the Ring of Sauron. Standing right next to him is Gollum, who looks upset about someone stealing his ‘precious’. Each 4-inch action figure features multiple points of articulation, as well as detailed sculpting and paint applications. Limited to only 4,000 pieces, the pair comes packaged in a replica of an opening book, along with Gollum’s boat. Designed by Eamon O’Donoghue, sculpted by Gentle Giant Studios. This item can be pre-ordered right from Gentle Giant’s website for $49.99.

Continue reading “Collecting The Precious – Diamond Select Toys LOTR Series 4 and SDCC Exclusive News”