Ever since The Hobbit was published back in 1937, J.R.R. Tolkien’s deep fantasy world has inspired hundreds, if not thousands of literary and film works – from The Song of Ice and Fire to Amazon’s most ambitious project yet, Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.
While we recently enjoyed sneak peeks of the upcoming series, showrunners JD Payne and Patrick McKay have also spoken to Empire this month, resulting in a massive outpouring of details regarding the epic project’s production, and especially its immense scale.
Apart from their massively successful superhero-parody The Boys – which is in the midst of a riotous season 3 – Amazon is also looking to dwarf Marvel Studios’ big-name cultural dominance by… well, outspending them.
Earlier this year, Vanity Fair estimated the first season of Rings of Power to cost a whopping $462 million – far outplaying any Marvel project to date, and costing a solid 32% more than Marvel’s biggest spend, Avengers: Endgame.
The new interviews blow this already mammoth scale off the charts, with Payne revealing that the show is set for four more seasons – shooting its secret production budget well into billions territory.
“The rights that Amazon bought were for a 50-hour show. They knew from the beginning that was the size of the canvas – this was a big story with a clear beginning, middle and end. There are things in the first season that don’t pay off until Season 5.”
This offers fans roughly ten episodes per season for five seasons, assuming there are no further contract extensions – putting Rings of Power twenty three under Game of Thrones’ episode count.
All of this offers something of a renaissance for LOTR fans, who haven’t really had the best treatment ever since Peter Jackson knocked our socks off back with his original trilogy. While The Hobbit series did make good money, it tanked critically and was universally panned by fans online for years.
Amazon isn’t intent on repeating Warner Bros.’ mistakes, however. Not only will the new team remain largely faithful to Tolkien’s source material – with the author’s estate and intellectual heirs keenly collaborating with the showrunners.
This offers hardcore fans the chance to relive some of the books’ greatest moments – from the forging of the infamous rings themselves, to the rise of series arch-villain, Sauron. “It was like Tolkien put some stars in the sky and let us make out the constellations,” Payne explains.
“In his letters [particularly in one to his publisher], Tolkien talked about wanting to leave behind a mythology that ‘left scope for other minds and hands, wielding the tools of paint, music and drama. We’re doing what Tolkien wanted,” he continues. “As long as we felt like every invention of ours was true to his essence, we knew we were on the right track.”
“The pressure would drive us insane if we didn’t feel like there was a story here that didn’t come from us. It comes from a bigger place,” adds McKay. “It came from Tolkien and we’re just the stewards of it. We trust those ideas so deeply, because they’re not ours. We’re custodians, at best.”
Debuting right alongside HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon, it’s going to be one hell of a year ahead for multiple generations of fans – each hoping to see Middle-Earth recreated in all its imaginative glory.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power premieres September 2, on Prime Video.
(Featured Image Credits: Amazon Prime)