The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power won't try to "compete" with Peter Jackson's legendary film trilogy when the former is released later this year.
That's according co-showrunner Patrick McKay, who told Empire magazine (opens in new tab) that The Rings of Power doesn't attempt to replicate the award-winning work that Jackson and company conducted on his Lord of the Rings movie series.
While The Rings of Power is set during the Second Age – an era that precedes the events of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit – it's understandable why comparisons have been made between the Prime Video show and Jackson's film adaptations. Amazon's Lord of the Rings series is being positioned as a sweeping, multi-narrative show that's primarily fantasy-based but one that leans into other genres. Given Jackson's movies did likewise, and how influential they've been on the fantasy genre over the past two decades, it would be a mistake if The Rings of Power's chief creative team didn't look to his two film trilogies for inspiration.
Even so, despite McKay admitting that he and co-creator J.D Payne were "admirers" of Jackson's works, it would be foolish for the pair to try and copy his blueprint for the Prime Video TV series.
"Anyone approaching Lord Of The Rings on screen would be wrong not to think about how wonderfully right [Jackson] got so much of it,” McKay said. “But we’re admirers from afar, that’s it. The Rings Of Power doesn’t try to compete with him."
Released between 2001 and 2003, Jackson's Lord of the Rings film trilogy is one of the greatest and most successful fantasy movie series of all time. The three films cumulatively made $2.99 billion at the global box office, while the trio acquired numerous awards (including a record-equalling 11 Oscars at the 76th Academy Awards in 2004) across multiple disciplines. The Hobbit trilogy was less successful – in an awards capacity, at least – between 2012 and 2014, but still made $2.93 billion in worldwide ticket sales.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power won't come close to matching those numbers – it's a TV show, after all – but Amazon Studios hopes it'll attract new subscribers to its streaming service. The Rings of Power will launch exclusively on Prime Video on September 2, 2022.
Analysis: ring-ing in a new era
It makes sense that Payne, McKay and company aren't looking to replicate Jackson's iconic works. Comparisons are already being made between The Rings of Power and Jackson's two film trilogies, with fans of the latter – and J.R.R Tolkien fans in general – divided over Amazon's decision to even make a Lord of the Rings TV show.
Distancing the series from what's come before, then, is a smart move. Sure, parallels will still be drawn between The Rings of Power and other live-action adaptations of Tolkien's works. But Amazon's Lord of the Rings deserves a chance to prove whether it'll be a worthwhile investment – for Amazon Studios and audiences – without the fear of being written off before it's released.
It also helps that The Rings of Power draws on elements of Lord of the Rings' lore rather than directly adapting beloved tales in the way that Jackson's trilogies did. Yes, Amazon's Lord of the Rings is set during the Second Age, but it'll tell original stories – set in Middle-earth – in and around the major events, battles, and rise and fall of civilizations taking place in that era.
Add in the introduction of new characters, plus fleshing out the backstories of major players including Galadriel, Elrond, Isildur, and Durin IV, into the equation, and The Rings of Power has free rein – what's endorsed by the Tolkien estate, anyway – to take The Lord of the Rings franchise in a new direction. As long as the show is respectful about Middle-earth's lore and all that's come before, it should ring (pun wholly intended) in a new era for Tolkien's legendary series.