The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power To Complete Season 2 Without Showrunners On Set

Amazon made a bold investment with "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power," spending over a billion dollars to acquire adaptation rights for portions of J.R.R. Tolkien's iconic fantasy world. It's unclear whether the investment paid off, as most viewers reportedly did not finish watching Season 1. Now, Season 2 has hit yet another snag, as the recent Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike leaves the series without showrunners and only 19 days left to film, Variety reports.

Executive producers J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, both of whom are also writers, are WGA members and therefore subject to the strike, which began after contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) fell through. Beginning May 2, all WGA members ceased work-related activities.

Meanwhile, another deadline looms as the Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) and Director's Guild of America (DGA) renegotiate their own respective contracts with AMPTP. If an agreement is not reached by June 30, actors and directors may join writers in striking, bringing the entire film and television industry to a complete stoppage.

"The Rings of Power" Season 2 has been filming nearly around the clock with multiple units, hoping to beat those deadlines. Scripts are presumably locked in at this point, and it is unclear what effect, if any, the loss of on-set showrunners will have on the forthcoming season of the Amazon Studios production.

The Rings of Power is the most high profile series yet affected by WGA strike

"The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" is the most high-profile series yet to be affected by the WGA strike, which began only two days ago on May 2. Negotiations between the WGA and AMPTP broke down hours before the midnight deadline on May 1, with the latter union — which represents the major studios and streamers — refusing to concede on several key demands made by the writers union. The strike is the first of its kind since the WGA strike of 2007, which sent the industry into a tailspin and ultimately resulted in new protections for writers.

This latest strike comes as streaming's rise to dominance upended the rules of engagement that had governed the last hurrah of legacy media and follows in the wake of the global COVID pandemic that scuttled productions in 2020 and 2021. Live and late-night shows were the first to be hit, and "Saturday Night Live" may not return for the remainder of its 48th season. But even as studios begin to feel the effects of the work stoppage, as seen in productions such as "The Rings of Power," other projects are locked and loaded, giving studios a steady runway of content that may allay the earliest effects of the strike. Combined with the fact that many writers are financially insecure and may not be able to weather a protracted strike, studios are likely betting that they have the long-term advantage.

Even so, should actors and directors begin their own strikes in July, studios may be forced back to the bargaining table.