One big-budget streaming prequel series to rule them all?
The long-awaited Prime Video Lord of the Rings TV series The Rings of Power, the most expensive in the history of televised entertainment, is finally at hand — with the first two episodes already live inside the Prime Video app. And the stakes couldn’t be higher for Amazon’s streaming video arm, which needs an epic payoff in the form of not just overwhelming viewership but presumably lots of new Prime subscription sign-ups to make its investment worthwhile.
Moreover, this series — which, based on early footage, looks unquestionably breathtaking — draws on aspects of the Tolkien-verse that exist mostly in the appendixes of The Lord of the Rings books. Which is to say, this isn’t material that casual fans will likely be familiar with. There also aren’t any of the major characters herein, with the exception of the young royal elf Galadriel (who, of course, was played as an adult by Cate Blanchett in the Peter Jackson movies).
The series is also coming out on Prime Video, which hasn’t attempted something of this magnitude before. So, no pressure, right?
Prime Video Lord of The Rings series
Below, you’ll find all of the major details that both Lord of the Rings superfans and casual viewers ought to know in advance, before the two-episode premiere.
New characters to introduce, a new age of Middle Earth, an episodic format — we’ve got a lot to get into.
Like HBO’s House of the Dragon, Prime Video’s Lord of the Rings series takes place long before the legendary story that you’re already familiar with. Here’s how Amazon summarizes the narrative:
“Prime Video’s forthcoming series brings the heroic legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history to screens. This epic drama 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 reemergence of evil returning 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.”
Suffice it to say, Amazon spared no expense in giving this series the production values that the franchise more or less demanded. Contributing to the project, for example, were more than 20 VFX studios. With some 1,500 visual effects artists also chipping in from around the world.
Whatever the result of this huge artistic gamble, the show also represents a major new chapter for Amazon Studios. In the early days of Amazon’s original video division, under chief Roy Price, the productions were quirkier and more critic-friendly fare that didn’t necessarily break through to the masses. Under current studio head Jennifer Salke, however, Prime Video has been giving subscribers more and more reason to stick around and stream more content as time goes on.
So far, critics have greeted the early episodes of The Rings of Power with more or less solid praise. Currently, the show has an 83% critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes, right out of the gate. Meanwhile, read on for answers to some additional frequently asked questions about the Lord of the Rings prequel series.
The story in this 8-episode series takes place thousands of years before the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. That could help draw in new fans, since audiences can come to the franchise without needing to have watched the movies or read the books.
Depending on where you live, you’ll get the first two episodes of the season back-to-back on either September 1 or 2. After that, it’s one episode each week.
Amazon spent $250 million to buy the TV rights for The Lord of the Rings. But what arguably hasn’t been stressed enough in coverage of the new series is that the streamer has already got not one but a total of five seasons of the show coming.
If you went to sleep early on Thursday night and are reading these words on Friday, September 2, the show is ready and waiting for you inside the Prime Video app. The eight-part series debuted on Thursday, September 1, at 9:00 PM ET, with Episodes One and Two available immediately.
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