When Does Amazon’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ Prequel Series Come Out?

Lord of the Rings fans got a big gift when Amazon announced it had acquired the rights to make a TV series based on the work of J.R.R. Tolkien. The multi-season show will “bring to the screen previously unexplored stories” by the celebrated fantasy author, Matt Galsor, a representative for the Tolkien Estate and Trust and Harper Collins said at the time. Word was that the series would be a prequel, exploring things that happened prior to the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

But that announcement happened way back in November 2017. Tolkien aficionados have been waiting over a year for the series to arrive. And they’ll have to wait a while longer.

Amazon hasn’t announced a release date

Amazon Studios logo
Amazon Studios | Gabe Ginsberg/WireImage

The streaming service hasn’t made any announcement yet about when we can expect to see Middle Earth spring to life on the small screen. In February 2019, Jennifer Salke, the head of Amazon Studios said there was “no timetable” for the upcoming show, Deadline reported. But in a June 2018 interview with the Hollywood Reporter, she said she hoped to have the series ready by 2021.

In general, details about the upcoming show are sketchy. One thing we do know is that Amazon will be producing it in cooperation with both the Tolkien Estate and New Line Cinema, the division of Warner Bros. that gave us Peter Jackson’s celebrated Lord of the Rings trilogy, as well as the less-well-received adaptation of The Hobbit. JD Payne and Patrick McKay have been hired to develop and write the series. The pair recently wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation of the Disney World ride Jungle Cruise.

LOTR director Jackson might also be involved in the project. In December 2018, he said that he hadn’t been directly involved in the show’s development, but that could change. “I don’t have thoughts on it because I haven’t seen [anything],” he told U.K. paper Metro. “‘I think they’re going to send us some scripts to see if we can help them along.”

The maps offer some clues

While we don’t know much about the upcoming LOTR prequels, Amazon has offered a hint of what might be to come in the form a map. Starting in mid-February, the official series Twitter account shared a series of maps of Middle Earth, each slightly more detailed than the last, accompanied by lines from a Tolkien poem about how the rings were created. (Fans can explore the interactive maps online.)

Tolkien experts quickly set about decoding the maps and what they could mean about the upcoming show. While there are a lot of theories, many are convinced the maps indicate the series will take place long before the events seen in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

At one point, there were rumors that the show might focus on the adventures of a young Aragorn (the character played by Viggo Mortensen in the original films). But the timeline suggested by the maps means that’s probably not the case. Tolkien fan site TheOneRing.net speculates that based on what’s been revealed so far, the Amazon series will focus on the making of the rings of power, including the “one ring” that Frodo is tasked with destroying in The Lord of the Rings.

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