The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is finally almost here. It's been a long time coming, but there's tons of information about the epic fantasy show to tide you over while you wait for these last few weeks to pass. For one thing, there are trailers to feast your eyes upon, showcasing Middle-earth, a strange object plummeting from the sky, and the return of Galadriel and Elrond (but played by different actors – more on that in a moment).
We've rounded up absolutely everything else there is to know about the show right here, from the massive, massive cast to details on the time period, what the plot is about, and even some initial reactions. The latest update is that exciting new trailer, and we've got the lowdown on all that and more below. So, scroll on to get up to speed on all things Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (and if you're looking for something to watch right now, see our guides to the best movies on Amazon Prime Video and the best shows on Amazon Prime Video).
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power release date
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power release date has been confirmed by Amazon. The new series will launch on September 2, 2022, on Amazon Prime.
The streamer announced the news in August 2021, preparing fans over a year in advance to book time off to slowly devour the opening episode. Amazon must be happy with what they're seeing from the set: production has been underway for some time, with director J.A. Bayona, best known for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, previously posting a behind-the-scenes image back in May 2020. The intention, it was once believed, was that a December 2021 release date was on the cards, but that was disrupted by the COVID pandemic.
Even without the pandemic, though, there was always going to be a significant wait for the Lord of the Rings TV show to actually premiere. Deadline previously reported that there would be a four-to-five-month delay after filming the first two episodes so that the showrunners could see what was working and what was not. There was speculation that season 2 would then film back-to-back with the first. One impact of this strategy was seemingly cast member Tom Budge leaving the show following "creative differences" – more on that in a minute.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power trailer
We finally have a full length trailer for The Rings of Power. In the clip, Galadriel and Elrond discuss a growing evil – and something mysterious falls from the sky. There are also harfoots, action scenes, and some seriously impressive landscapes. Check it out above.
The first Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power trailer dropped during the Super Bowl. In it, sweeping landscapes, huge battles, and epic journeys are teased – though the show is still keeping its plot-related cards close to the chest. You can check out the minute of footage above.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power setting
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power takes place in the Second Age, thousands of years before the main Lord of the Rings trilogy.
The setting was revealed when Amazon posted an image of the island of Númenor, home to Aragorn's people, the Númenoreans (who are, to simplify things, humans with a very long lifespan). They lived there until their home was destroyed, making Númenor – which will appear in the series – a ruin by the events of the main Lord of the Rings story. It's worth noting that, in the books, the Second Age lasted 3441 years, so there are a lot of stories to tell over multiple seasons.
Showrunners Patrick McKay and J.D. Payne have previously opened up on what they can and can't adapt in the new series. "We have the rights solely to The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King, the appendices, and The Hobbit," Payne said. "And that is it. We do not have the rights to The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, The History of Middle-earth, or any of those other books."
Don't worry too much, though, as McKay explained how they're handling adapting the Second Age without access to all of Tolkien's works. "There's a version of everything we need for the Second Age in the books we have the rights to," he said. "As long as we're painting within those lines and not egregiously contradicting something we don't have the rights to, there's a lot of leeway and room to dramatize and tell some of the best stories that [Tolkien] ever came up with."
The setting does mean that Frodo, Aragorn, and the majority of mortal characters will not appear in the series. However, there are a few elves who are definitely showing up, with Galadriel and set to feature. Sauron's going to show up, and so, too, will the Númenorean king Isildur.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power cast
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power cast is huge, so let's start with the big hitters: Saint Maud actress Morfydd Clark has signed on to play a young Galadriel. Robert Aramayo, who previously played a young Ned Stark in Game of Thrones, replaced Midsommar's Will Poulter as a young Elrond. Maxim Baldry, formerly best known as the kid from Mr. Bean's Holiday (he's in his mid-twenties now, because yes, we're old), will play the one-day king Isildur.
"You meet Isildur and he’s like Michael Corleone," McKay told Vanity Fair (opens in new tab). "He’s the young member of the family who has optimism and immaturity. Trace that guy to the tragic, final decision rather than the mistake of a fool."
Those are the three best-known characters in the upcoming show, minus Sauron – no word yet on who will be playing the dark lord.
Game of Thrones alumni Joseph Mawle, a veteran television and film actor best known for playing Benjen Stark, will portray the villain Oren. No character by that name appears in the books. Owain Arthur plays Durin IV, the prince of Khazad-dûm, the dwarven mines seen in ruins in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Expect to see the Khazad-dûm in its full glory. Sophia Nomvete plays his partner, Disa. Fans are already upset that she doesn't seem to have a beard.
Lenny Henry, Megan Richards, and Markella Kavenagh all play harfoots, ancestors to the hobbits. Nazanin Boniadi will be playing Bronwyn, a human who is in forbidden love with the elf Arondir, played by Ismael Cruz Córdova. For Tolkien fans, their relationship is expected to be similar to that of human and elf Beren and Lúthien, which was famously referenced by Aragorn and Arwen. Bronwyn also has a son, played by Tyroe Muhafidin, called Theo.
British character actor Charles Edwards will Celebrimbor, the elf who forges the Rings of Power. It was previously through that Tom Budge would play the role, but he dropped out of the series due to creative differences. Gil-galad, the high elf king, will be played by Benjamin Walker. Charlie Vickers plays a human who will have a close connection to Galadriel, Simon Merrells plays Trevyn, and Daniel Weyman appears as a mysterious Stranger.
Now, there are a lot of other names to get through in undisclosed roles, and they are: Ema Horvath, Dylan Smith, Peter Mullan, Ian Blackburn (Shelter), Kip Chapman (Top of the Lake), Anthony Crum (The Wild), Maxine Cunliffe (Power Rangers Megaforce), Tryston Gravelle (The Terror), Thusitha Jayasundera (Broadchurch), Fabian McCallum (You, Me & The Apocalypse), Simon Merrells (Good Omens), Geoff Morrell (Top of the Lake: China Girl), Lloyd Owen (The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles), Augustus Prew (Kick-Ass 2), Alex Tarrant (Tatau), Leon Wadham (Power Rangers Beast Morphers), Benjamin Walker (Jessica Jones), Sara Zwangobani (Home and Away), Will Fletcher (The Girl Who Fell), Amelie Child-Villiers (The Machine), and Beau Cassidy. Peter Tait will also be in the series. He appeared in The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King as Shagrat, a Black Uruk who discovered Frodo after the Hobbit had been poisoned by Shelob. Perhaps he'll be playing another monster?
Sir Ian McKellen – who played Gandalf in the three Lord of the Rings movies and The Hobbit trilogy – has said that no other actor could play the wise wizard. "What do you mean, another Gandalf?" McKellen told Graham Norton when asked whether someone could take over the role. "I haven't said yes because I haven't been asked. But are you suggesting that someone else is going to play it? Gandalf is over 7,000 years old, so I'm not too old."
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power images and posters
The very first image from The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power pictured a lone figure in a white cloak on a grassy hillside, looking out toward a grand city and the Two Trees of Valinor – which were long since destroyed in Bilbo's time – standing as shining, ethereal titans in the far distance.
These trees literally became the sun and the moon after they were devoured by Shelob's mother Ungoliant, so they're pretty important to Middle-earth. And considering the fact that the series will follow evil returning to this idyllic world, you probably shouldn't expect the two of them to remain standing for long.
There are also a whole bunch of character posters from the Lord of the Rings series that are well worth flicking through, just to see the sheer scale of what Amazon is attempting. There are dozens of major characters.
Each character is holding an object, from swords to acorns, which gives us an indication of what we can expect them to be up to in the show. There's a sword with a horse on the hilt (perhaps a Rohan warrior), another weapon with an Elvish look, a staff held by someone wearing blue robes (one of the blue wizards, maybe?), and one very gnarly, Ringwraith-like character.
One of the most intriguing is the broken blade, held by Tyroe Muhafidin is Theo. Little is known about the character, who can be seen in full at the top of this page. Alongside an image of Theo, Amazon also debuted a look at Bronwyn, played by Nazanin Boniadi.
Again, Amazon has kept everything close to its chest with regards the newcomer. Why is she mournfully looking out onto a river? Who's to say. Whatever the case, expect to see more and more images from The Lord of the Rings series revealed as we approach the September release date.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power synopsis
When the official title – The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power – was announced, Amazon released the first official information about the show.
"This is a title that we imagine could live on the spine of a book next to J.R.R. Tolkien’s other classics," said showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay. "The Rings of Power unites all the major stories of Middle-earth’s Second Age: the forging of the rings, the rise of the Dark Lord Sauron, the epic tale of Númenor, and the Last Alliance of Elves and Men."
Amazon later released an official synopsis, teasing new and familiar characters that will appear in the series. The show will depict "the heroic legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history". In other words, it takes place thousands of years before The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings stories.
"It 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," the statement reads. "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 re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth."
Excitingly, the synopsis names some locations that have been mentioned but never seen on screen before: "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."
A piece in Vanity Fair (opens in new tab) also saw the showrunners reveal more about what to expect. "The forging of the rings," co-showrunner Patrick McKay said of what the series will eventually revolve around. "Rings for the elves, rings for dwarves, rings for men, and then the one ring Sauron used to deceive them all. It’s the story of the creation of all those powers, where they came from, and what they did to each of those races."
If you were wondering about hobbits, the showrunners have explained whether we'll be seeing that particular species, too. Turns out, we won't be seeing hobbits – but their ancestors, the harfoots.
"One of the very specific things the texts say is that hobbits never did anything historic or noteworthy before the Third Age," McKay said. "But really, does it feel like Middle-earth if you don’t have hobbits or something like hobbits in it?" We won't be seeing Bagginses, but harfoots, one of three breeds of hobbits, along with Stoors and Fallohides. Harfoots don't dwell in the Shire, though, but the showrunners, according to Vanity Fair, have made "a pastoral harfoot society that thrives on secrecy and evading detection so that they can play out a kind of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead story [an absurdist play about two minor characters from Shakespeare's Hamlet] in the margins of the bigger quests."
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power reactions
Early reactions to the show are in, and they're overwhelmingly positive. "I was invited by the folks, along with a bunch of other internet Tolkien folks, to attend an advanced screening of some footage from the #RingsofPower show and to meet the showrunners," wrote one fan (opens in new tab). "I must say: after meeting them, I feel the show is in VERY good hands."
Another early viewer (opens in new tab) wrote that the showrunners "kept up with the best of us. Their passion & knowledge made me feel like they were one of us; they get it. I'm feeling very optimistic!"
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power writers and directors
Writers J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay are the series' co-showrunners. Speaking of their appointment, they said in a joint statement: "We feel like Frodo, setting out from the Shire, with a great responsibility in our care. It is the beginning of the adventure of a lifetime."
Joining them as a consultant is Bryan Cogman, who is best known for writing some of the Game of Thrones' best episodes. Also announced to be writing episodes for the Lord of the Rings Amazon series are Gennifer Hutchinson (Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul), Helen Shang (Hannibal), Justin Dohle (Stranger Things), and Stephany Folsom (Toy Story 4).
Meanwhile, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom director J.A. Bayona will helm the first two episodes of the first season, and will act as an executive producer. Wayne Che Yip – whose credits include episodes of Hunters, Preacher, Utopia, and Doctor Who – will direct four follow-up episodes, and Charlotte Brändström (The Witcher, Jupiter's Legacy) will helm two episodes.
There are also some other extremely exciting behind-the-camera persons, including costume designer Kate Hawley (Edge of Tomorrow, Suicide Squad), production designer Rick Heinrichs (Sleepy Hollow, Star Wars: The Last Jedi), and visual effects supervisor Jason Smith (Super 8, Avengers). Concept artist John Howe, who worked on Jackson's trilogy, will also have the same position on the show.
“This team is our Fellowship, assembled from around the world, all walking the road together to try and accomplish something far greater than any of us could on our own,” McKay and Payne said in a statement.
Plus, original Lord of the Rings composer Howard Shore is in talks to return for the series. He scored the Lord of the Rings trilogy, as well as all three The Hobbit movies, and won three Oscars for his efforts.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power budget
The first season of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power alone has set Amazon back an incredible $450 million, making it the most expensive TV show ever made, beating the final season of Game of Thrones, which cost HBO an estimated $90 million. "What I can tell you is Amazon is going to spend about $650 million [New Zealand dollars] in season one alone," New Zealand's Minister for Economic Development and Tourism, Stuart Nash, told Morning Report. "This is fantastic, it really is... this will be the largest television series ever made."
Amazon has not confirmed the report. It has previously been estimated that the Lord of the Rings series could become the first-ever TV show to cost upwards of $1 billion, after including costs of production, rights, and marketing for multiple seasons – just the rights to Tolkien's world were reported to have cost Amazon $250 million. That's enough money to make Smaug blush. Luckily, Jeff Bezos reportedly earned on average $321 million a day during the pandemic, so we won't see Amazon going under if no one except the GamesRadar+ team watches...
Galadriel actor Morfydd Clark has spoken about filming the series, teasing the sheer scale of the project. "The amount of [people working] on this show is continually mind-blowing," Clark said. How mind-blowing? "One guy’s job consists just of seeing how dust reacts to footsteps and breath! That would never have even crossed my mind before." Clark doubles down on the sense of scale we can expect from The Lord of the Rings TV show by saying, "Other than something like Marvel, I don’t think things could get much bigger than this."
How many episodes of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power will there be?
Reports have indicated that we could be looking at potentially five seasons of The The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, though only the first two seasons have been confirmed. That would certainly make the eye-watering budget make sense as an investment.
But how many episodes in season one? We have confirmation that there will initially be eight episodes. There's no word yet on how long each episode will be, though we suspect, with a show of this stature, that we're looking at hour-long episodes. That is, however, just an educated guess.
What's not a guess is The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power show release schedule – episodes are going to be released weekly. So, come September 2022, you don't need to book the whole day off to binge through the show. Unless you want to replay the episode over and over again looking for Easter eggs and references to Tolkien lore...
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power – the nudity controversy
A series of casting calls and one new crew member indicated that the Amazon series would feature sex and nudity – something that had fans wondering whether the new series may borrow too liberally from Game of Thrones. TheOneRing.net (opens in new tab) then reported that The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power has hired intimacy coordinator Jennifer Ward-Lealand, whose job typically revolves around making actors feel comfortable and safe during sex scenes.
After a few months of fans being annoyed that Tolkien's world would not be child-friendly, showrunner Patrick McKay told Vanity Fair the goal was "to make a show for everyone, for kids who are 11, 12, and 13." The series will therefore not have any graphic, Game of Thrones-style nudity, but it might have some scares.
"Sometimes they might have to pull the blanket up over their eyes if it's a little too scary," he teased. "We talked about the tone in Tolkien's books. This is material that is sometimes scary – and sometimes very intense, sometimes quite political, sometimes quite sophisticated – but it's also heartwarming and life-affirming and optimistic. It's about friendship and it's about brotherhood and underdogs overcoming great darkness."
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power filming locations
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power season 1 was filmed in New Zealand, the country that provided the astonishing setting of Peter Jackson's trilogy.
Showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay said of bringing the series back to New Zealand: "As we searched for the location in which we could bring to life the primordial beauty of the Second Age of Middle-earth, we knew we needed to find somewhere majestic, with pristine coasts, forests, and mountains, that also is a home to world-class sets, studios, and highly skilled and experienced craftspeople and other staff." Expect lots of aerial shots of snowy peaks, rolling hillsides, and craggy cliff faces.
However, production will move to the UK for season 2, with Amazon having made the UK its primary spot for production.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power won't involve Peter Jackson
Sadly, Peter Jackson, who directed the film trilogy, is not involved with Amazon's TV adaptation. He said at a New York Comic Con panel that he's "looking forward to it" as a viewer instead. "I was a guy who didn't get to see the Lord of the Rings like everybody else because I had to make it", Jackson explained, "so I'm looking forward to seeing somebody else's take on the Tolkien world."
While we wait for the LOTR series, check out which other shows you should be watching with our list of the best new TV shows coming soon.