The Lord of the Rings TV show is finally scheduled to arrive on Amazon Prime Video in late 2022. The live-action series may not land on our screens for another 12 months, which is a pity, but at least we know that the live-action series will be with us soon. That's worth celebrating if nothing else.
Amazon's Lord of the Rings will focus on the Second Age of J.R.R. Tolkien's legendary book series, which means we'll be getting all-new content when it launches in the future. But what could that entail, in terms of plot, characters and other things that fans want to see?
Below, we've provided a detailed look at everything that we know so far about Amazon Prime's Lord of the Rings season 1. That includes its official release date, all-star cast, potential plot points, villains, other tie-in movies or shows and more.
The latest news concerns the return of a familiar face from previous Lord of the Rings live-action adaptations, and fans should be excited about the possibility. If you're ready to see who that might be, as well as everything else we know about the TV show, let's dive in.
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Cut to the chase
- What is it? Amazon's TV adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-Earth book series.
- Where can I watch it? Amazon Prime Video.
- When will it be released? September 2, 2022.
- What did Amazon pay for Lord of the Rings? $250 million for the rights alone – and that's before you enter production.
- Are the Lord of the Rings movies on Amazon Prime? Yes.
Lord of the Rings on Amazon release date: September 2022
After what feels like an almighty wait, season 1 of Amazon's Lord of the Rings has a release date – but it'll be 12 months before it lands on our TV, laptop or phone screens.
The Lord of the Rings TV show won't arrive on Amazon Prime Video until September 2, 2022. It's disappointing we won't see it sooner but, given how production has gone so far, its recently announced launch date isn't surprising.
The announcement was made on the series' official Twitter account, which also gave us a first-look image to pour over:
On September 2, 2022, a new journey begins. pic.twitter.com/9tnR7WqDoAAugust 2, 2021
Like other recent Amazon Prime TV shows, Lord of the Rings season 1 episodes will be released weekly, so don't expect to be able to binge watch it over a single weekend.
Filming began in February 2020 (per Stuff.co.nz), but numerous issues – not least the Covid-19 pandemic – ensured that season 1's production was a lengthy affair.
It led to a shut down in production in March 2020 (per New Zealand Herald), before pre-production recommenced in July 2020. (h/t Stuff.co.nz). Filming resumed in late September, according to Deadline, with principal photography starting up again in January 2021 following a two-break Christmas break (h/t New Zealand Herald).
Meanwhile, according to reports, stunt injuries were apparently been common on set, and it seems that those problems continued throughout the show's production. Stuntwoman Elissa Cadwell was injured just days into filming the first two episodes, while the New Zealand Herald and Variety have carried quotes from "furious" stunt personnel about the dangerous work they've had to carry out.
In response, Amazon had stated that it takes the health and safety of all cast and crew "extremely seriously", but it seems that not everything was rosy on set all of the time.
Filming on season 1 officially wrapped on Tuesday, August 3. There's the possibility that pick ups may be required, depending on how specific episodes are edited. For now, though, the show's cast and crew have departed New Zealand for a well-earned break.
That’s a wrap! Thank you to our amazing cast and crew and to New Zealand for being the incredible place we have been privileged to call home as we bring the Second Age and Middle-earth to life. #LOTRonPrime (1/8)August 3, 2021
Speaking of New Zealand, season 2 of Amazon's The Lord of the Rings will be filmed in the UK instead of the Kiwi nation.
Per Variety, Amazon Studios TV co-head Albert Cheng revealed that principal photography would begin on British shores in the first half of 2022 and multiple UK news outlets – including the Scottish Herald, the Argus and Birmingham Live – have lobbied for the show to film in their respective districts and countries.
In a separate Variety article, New Zealand Film Commission CEO David Strong said it was "shame" that Amazon would no longer shoot the series in the country. He went on to state that he would welcome new productions to New Zealand in a bid to keep affected crew members employed by other means.
Lord of the Rings on Amazon cast: who is playing who?
A series on this scale needs a huge cast, and Amazon's Lord of the Rings ensemble is absolutely stacked.
There are 39 actors, according to the official casting page. While we don't have confirmation on who is portraying who, we have some ideas based on various inside sources.
According to Variety, Morfydd Clark (Saint Maud) has been cast as young Galadriel. Lord of the Rings fans will know that the powerful elf was played by Cate Blanchett in the film trilogy. As this series is set during the Second Age, though, Galadriel will be younger than her movie counterpart.
Another role that we're fairly certain of is Simon Merrells. According to the actor's biography page on the Warring and McKenna management agency website, Merrells (Good Omens) will be playing an original character called Trevyn.
There are also rumors surrounding the identities of other actors' roles.
Robert Aramayo, who played a young Ned Stark in Game of Thrones, is believed to have replaced Will Poulter as Beldor, one of the TV show's main heroes (per Deadline).
The Hollywood Reporter has claimed that Markella Kavenagh (The Cry) had signed on to play a character called Tyra, while Deadline has suggested that Lloyd Owen (Monarch of the Glen) would portray someone known as Loda.
Joseph Mawle, who played Benjen Stark in Game of Thrones, is also thought to have been cast as the series antagonist Oren (h/t Deadline). However, it's unclear if this character has ties to Sauron – more on him later – or if he'll be a supporting villain.
Regarding Kip Chapman's character, the Fellowship of Fans Twitter fan account alleges that the Westside actor is portraying someone called Selin. The Fellowship of Fans also claims that Owain Arthur will play an "important Dwarven character", but failed to elaborate on who that may be.
Finally, A Discovery of Witches' Trystan Gravelle recently gave us a hint at his character's potential look for the show, but we're not sure who this individual is yet.
Thrilled to welcome them to the @LOTRonPrime family! https://t.co/Medxxvz07NJuly 1, 2021
One thing that is certain is that we won't see the likes of Frodo, Sam or Aragorn in this adaptation. These characters were born in Middle-Earth's Third Age, which places the show outside of their timelines so they won't show up.
There are key Second Age players, including elven High King Gil-galad, elven smith Celebrimbor, dwarf King Durin III, and Numenorian King Elendil, who haven't had their castings revealed yet, though, so hopefully we'll get official confirmation on which actors will portray them soon.
Lord of the Rings on Amazon plot: what is the story about?
In January 2021, TheOneRing.net revealed Amazon Studios' official synopsis for the series:
Our servers haven't crashed & burned like this since 2003, so here's the official show synopsis for Amazon's LORD OF THE RINGS series. 📺 #LOTRonPrime pic.twitter.com/O9k0Q8VkuzJanuary 13, 2021
The synopsis doesn't give much away, but it's enough to go on for now.
Amazon's Lord of the Rings will be set during Middle-Earth's Second Age, which lasted for nearly 3,500 years and ended with Sauron's defeat thanks to the alliance between men and elves. This is the battle that opened Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, so it's possible that we may see this adapted again at some point in Amazon's series.
However, that is some way off if it does appear. There's plenty of Middle-Earth history that Amazon's Lord of the Rings could cover, and we're hopeful that we'll be seeing live-action debuts for new areas of Tolkien's world in the TV show, such as Numenor and Lindon.
It sounds like we'll be seeing one of those locations on screen, too. According to the Fellowship of Fans Twitter fan account, leaked set reports have suggested that Numenorian guilds (weapons dealers, food traders and more) will be part of the show. In a separate Twitter thread, the same fan group also claimed that we'll see some Dwarven locations in season 1, particularly in the first two episodes.
While we wait for more news on the story front, we have also seen a map of what Middle-Earth looked like during the Second Age:
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them, In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie. #LOTRonPrime pic.twitter.com/7TuQh7gRPDMarch 7, 2019
With Amazon focusing on the Second Age, we should see how Sauron returns and almost ends up ruling over Middle-Earth. The Lord of the Rings' big bad has a huge role in how this era plays out, so we can expect to see his rise to power again and the eons-spanning fallout after he tries to enslave men, dwarves, and elves with the Rings of Power.
Another element of Amazon's adaptation is that it could be more adult than some fans have envisaged. According to TheOneRing.net, Amazon hired a well-known New Zealand intimacy coordinator – Jennifer Ward-Lealand – back in October 2020.
It's unclear what level of intimacy Ward-Lealand has been brought on board for, but some Tolkien fans have already voiced their displeasure over Ward-Lealand's hiring. Why? Well, intimacy – as an industry term – usually refers to nudity or sex scenes. Think along the lines of HBO's adaptation of Game of Thrones and you'll be on the right track.
If, and it's a big if as we don't know Amazon's plan for its adaptation, nudity is a part of the company's Lord of the Rings series, you can expect it to receive a high age rating when it finally airs.
Lord of the Rings on Amazon cost: how much will it be to make?
Amazon bought the rights to the Lord of the Rings TV show for $250 million in November 2017 (h/t Deadline). If Amazon completes its reported five-season run, it'll be expected that the entire production will have cost $1 billion, according to The Hollywood Reporter. This would make Amazon's Lord of the Rings the most expensive series of all-time.
That $1 billion mark is moving closer to reality, if not more, too. As New Zealand-based publication Stuff revealed, season 1 will reportedly cost $650m New Zealand dollars to produce. Converting that into US dollars, season 1 is valued over $465 million.
However, Amazon Studios had a portion of its production costs knocked off the bill by the New Zealand government. Reuters reported that Amazon received an extra five per cent from the nation's Screen Production Grant due to the jobs and work it generated for the country's economy. This meant that Amazon Studios was eligible to receive a rebate of NZ$162 million (US$116 million) from the New Zealand government – funds that reduced Amazon's financial outlay for season 1.
That reduction in costs won't be carried over when production moves to the UK, but the British government also offers financial incentives for movies and TV shows to be shot on UK soil. Amazon can expect, then, to receive some form of reimbursement.
Lord of the Rings on Amazon crew: who is involved?
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and A Monster Calls director J.A. Bayona led production on the show, while J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay have been on board since July 2018 (h/t The Hollywood Reporter) to write and co-executively produce the show.
Other executive producers include Bayona, Lindsay Weber, Callum Greene, Jason Cahill, and Gennifer Hutchinson. Kate Hawley led costume design on the series, while concept artist John Howe – one the film's chief conceptual designers – was also part of the crew.
Bayona directed the series' first two instalments, including the pilot episode. Hunters director Wayne Che Yip has directed four of season 1's eight episodes, while Charlotte Brändström (The Witcher, Jupiter's Legacy) helmed the final two entries.
One person who hasn't returned for Amazon's adaptation is Peter Jackson. The director of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies had been tapped by Amazon, but ultimately declined to be involved.
Finally, Howard Shore – who scored all six Lord of the Rings movies – appears to be set to return to Middle Earth for the third time.
In January 2021, Shore spoke to TechRadar entertainment reporter Tom Power (during his freelance days) for Observer.com, revealing that he hadn't been contacted by scoring the show but "would consider it" if asked.
Now, Deadline is reporting that Shore has held talks with Amazon Studios about penning the music for its TV adaptation. Here's hoping that an agreement can be reached as Shore would be the perfect fit for it.
Lord of the Rings on Amazon: will The War of the Rohirrim movie tie into it?
No. Amazon's Lord of the Rings is set centuries before The Lord of the Rings: War of the Rohirrim, so don't expect there to be any crossover between these events.
For those who may have missed this announcement: a while ago, Variety reported that Warner Bros. Animation is developing a Lord of the Rings anime movie.
Focusing on the history of Helm's Deep, the legendary Rohan stronghold that was the scene for Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers' massive battle, War of the Rohirrim will tell the tale of King Helm Hammerhand, whose reign is remembered for a long and costly war that occurred during his time on the throne.
Anime filmmaker Kenji Kamiyama, who has helmed Netflix's Ultraman series among other projects, will direct War of the Rohirrim, which will supposedly tie into the six main Lord of the Rings films.
However, given that King Hammerhand's reign took place around 260 years before Lord of the Rings' main events, it won't be linked to Amazon's TV series. The latter is set during Middle Earth's Second Age, so it'll precede events in War of the Rohirrim.