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Great News Just Dropped For The New LoTR Series

Amazon is extending its stay in Middle-earth.

Ahead of the premiere of the streaming service's upcoming Lord of the Rings series, the project, which will bring J.R.R. Tolkien's beloved world back to life for more adventures, has been renewed for a second season before its first even arrives. 

According to Variety, pre-production on the series has only just started — with filming set to take place in New Zealand, the picturesque locale that served as the backdrop for Peter Jackson's original Lord of the Rings films. Even with that considered, though, hearing that the show has scored a second season this far in advance isn't entirely surprising. Variety also reports that Amazon initially ordered the Lord of the Rings series for two seasons, but took a little bit of time to lock down the second season as it begins production on the first.

As of November 2019, the show doesn't have a complete cast, but a few actors — like Marbella Kavenagh and Will Poulter – have joined the roster. The latter has made quite a splash over the past couple of years, thanks to high-profile roles in The Revenant, Black Mirror's groundbreaking interactive film Bandersnatchand 2019's runaway horror hit Midsommar

Back in 2017, Amazon announced that it had acquired exclusive rights to the Lord of the Rings series, but it wasn't without a huge cost — literally. Amazon paid a whopping $250 million for the rights alone, which doesn't even cover production costs or anything beyond the exclusive opportunity to make the series in the first place. However, it seems as if the streaming giant is already plenty pleased with its gamble — especially now that it's fresh off a winning streak at the 2019 Emmy Awards, where its crown jewel, Fleabag, beat out a crowded field to take home Best Comedy Series and trophies for its creator and star, Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

The Lord of the Rings series also has a pretty stacked creative team. Bryan Cogman, who spent the majority of the past decade working on Game of Thrones, will serve as a consulting producer, marking his return to big-budget fantasy projects. He'll be joined by writers JD Payne and Patrick McKay, who recently helped pen the upcoming Dwayne Johnson vehicle Jungle Cruise, as well as director J.A. Bayona (Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom), who will helm the first couple of episodes. Other exciting creative minds on the project include writer Justin Doble (Stranger Things), VFX supervisor Jason Smith (Avengers), production designer Rick Heinrichs (Star Wars: The Last Jedi), illustrator John Howe (who worked on the original Lord of the Rings trilogy), and Tolkien scholar Tom Shippey.

If you're wondering what this undoubtedly ambitious show will even be about, so are we. Though rumors have been swirling that the Lord of the Rings series will tell the story of a young Aragorn, the unwilling heir to the throne of Gondor played by Viggo Mortensen in the original film trilogy, that's still unconfirmed, leaving plenty of room for speculation. (Mortensen, for his part, has offered advice to younger actors embarking on this enormous journey.)

One thing we know for sure is that Jackson, who helmed the historic trilogy in the early 2000s and returned to the director's chair for the Hobbit prequel series, won't play any significant role in this new series. Apparently, the Academy Award-winning director isn't eyeing a return to Middle-earth any time soon. 

The legacy of Lord of the Rings

Ever since Jackson's Lord of the Rings film trilogy ended with The Return of the King in 2003, fans of J.R.R. Tolkien have waited for more Middle-earth content to hit the big and small screen. But even so, the original three films cast an enormous shadow, causing many to question whether the Amazon series will ever live up to expectations.  

Beginning with 2001's The Fellowship of the Ring, Jackson's lovingly crafted adaptations of Tolkien's work charmed audiences across the land — due in part to the enormous effort he put into the films. Jackson, along with his cast and crew, spent 274 straight days living and working in New Zealand to shoot all three films at once, which created a satisfying throughline and allowed the three films to be released on an extraordinarily short schedule. Following Fellowship, The Two Towers hit theaters in 2002, followed by Return of the King just one year later.

Despite the fact that the original LOTR trilogy garnered universal acclaim, even sweeping the Academy Awards with 11 statues (including Best Picture), The Hobbit series wasn't quite so lucky. It seems that taking a fun romp of a children's book and turning it into a big-screen spectacle wasn't the best idea in the world – something Jackson himself later confirmed, admitting that script issues and a lack of planning contributed to the less-than-great quality of the movies.

To that end, Amazon's Lord of the Rings series only has to be better than The Hobbit, which shouldn't be too difficult, but it still has a pretty high bar to clear to become as beloved as the original film trilogy. However, with the team Amazon has assembled for the show, it seems on track to continue Jackson's original legacy.

There's no date set yet for the series premiere, but we'll update you as soon as we know when we can head back to Middle-earth and learn even more about its sprawling history.