In news that comes as shock to literally no one, Amazon renewed the Lord of the Rings prequel series on its streaming service. What is remarkable about this move, however, is that the first season hasn’t even begun filming yet. Just like Peter Jackson’s iconic film series set in Middle Earth, it seems that the Amazon series might film their first and second seasons back-to-back. In 2017, Amazon secured the rights to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth universe for around $250 million. Bringing the series to life? That could cost the streamer well over one billion dollars! With an investment like that, it’s clear that they will want to get as much as they can from the property. Even though the deal demanded a commitment to at least a five-year run of the show, Amazon still has to greenlight each season after the first.
Why The Lord of the Rings Prequel Series Got Renewed By Amazon Before Filming Began
Image via New Line Cinema
Still, even with a deep-pocketed investment in the universe, people might expect the streamer to want to see a pilot first. The first season will be 20 episodes like a network television series. Committing to another 20 episodes before a frame of film is shot seems like a huge risk. And, it is. Still, that’s why how they are scheduling the hiatus is important. The cast and crew will film the first two episodes of the show. After that, they will take a hiatus that lasts four or five months. It’s common for projects ordered straight to series to take a hiatus early on. It allows them to evaluate the first episode or two as one would with a pilot. Yet, the extended hiatus here allows the writers to break the story for the second season while that plays out.
When everyone reconvenes in New Zealand to start filming the other 18 episodes, writing will be underway for the second season. It’s even possible that like the films, they will shoot season 2 concurrently or immediately after the first. This allows for a shorter wait time between seasons. Amazon doesn’t want their most expensive property to endure the year-long (or more) hiatuses of HBO shows like Game of Thrones or Westworld.
If the goal is to produce 100 total episodes of the series, Amazon will want the production to be like a factory. They want them consistently producing content so that there isn’t a long break between seasons. Of course, this breakneck pace could spell trouble, especially if producers don’t like what they see from the first episodes. Deadline was the first to break the news that Amazon renewed the Lord of the Rings prequel series for season 2.
What We Know About the Lord of the Rings Television Series
Image via screengrab
Amazon’s commitments to the Tolkien estate extend beyond the five-season promise. They are forbidden from setting events of the series in the Third Age. For those unfamiliar with the long, complex history of Middle Earth, the Third Age is when the events of the books and films take place. The Second Age, when the series is set, spans 3,441 years and the only familiar face (kind of) in the show will be Sauron. The reasoning behind this is that they wanted to give storytellers freedom to invent new characters and surprise the audience. Tolkien’s estate especially didn’t want them mucking about with the established history of the books and the characters. Setting the show in the Second Age gives them the freedom to tell an original story. The extended timespan also allows for indefinite seasons of storytelling, including changing the entire cast, if needed.
Are you happy that Amazon already renewed the Lord of the Rings prequel series for season 2? Do you think the fast pace is good for the series or runs the risk of making it appear rushed? Share your thoughts, theories, and hopes in the comments below.
Featured image via New Line Cinema
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.