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.
Amazon officially announces new director for its Lord of the Rings TV series and the cast immediately celebrated online.
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.
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 Studios’ forthcoming series brings to screens for the very first time the heroic legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history. This epic drama is set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and will take viewers back to an era in which great powers were forged, kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin, unlikely heroes were tested, hope hung by the finest of threads, and the greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness. Beginning in a time of relative peace, 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. From the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains, to the majestic forests of the elf-capital of Lindon, to the breathtaking island kingdom of Númenor, to the furthest reaches of the map, these kingdoms and characters will carve out legacies that live on long after they are gone.
Staffers from TORn have been poring over this, wondering what every tiny scrap of information could mean; and we’ve been gathering their reactions, to share with you.