Heads up Lord of the Rings fans, we’re one step closer to heading back to Middle-earth. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom director J.A. Bayona has been tapped to direct the forthcoming Lord of the Rings Amazon series, per Deadline.
Though Amazon and everyone involved in the project have been tight-lipped on details, the announcement of the show’s director is giving people a slightly better idea of how things are going. The only confirmed detail of the plot is that the series will take place prior to the Lord of the Rings trilogy from Peter Jackson.
It has been speculated that the series will either follow a young Aragorn, who was portrayed by Viggo Mortensen in the Jackson films, or dive into the appendices published by J. R. R. Tolkien when he released Return of the King. Nonetheless, it has been ruled out that the series will follow the War of the Rings, which was briefly touched on in the film trilogy.
It has been confirmed that Bayona will direct the first two episodes of the series. He will also executive produce alongside his producing partner Belén Atienza. Other than Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Bayona has directed the 2012 Ewan McGregor-led disaster film The Impossible, the first two episodes of the Showtime series Penny Dreadful, A Monster Calls and The Orphanage, which marked Bayona’s feature-film debut. Bayona took to Twitter to celebrate his new directing gig:
J.R.R. Tolkien created one of the most extraordinary and inspiring stories of all time. I can’t wait to take audiences around the world to Middle-earth and have them discover the wonders of the Second Age, with a never before seen story.https://t.co/imSFOSh5MJ— JA Bayona (@FilmBayona) July 3, 2019
Writers JD Payne and Patrick McKay have been tasked with penning the massive series, as well as acting as the series’ showrunners. The duo were uncredited writers on 2016’s Star Trek Beyond, and have also been slated to write the untitled forthcoming Star Trek sequel. The pair have reportedly been assisted by Game of Thrones guru Bryan Cogman and Better Call Saul’s Gennifer Hutchison.
“The scope and breadth of J.A.’s world-building is exactly the right fit for our ambitions for The Lord of the Rings,” said Jennifer Salke, Head of Amazon Studios, per Deadline. “He’s a passionate and collaborative director who has brought new stories to life with his multi-talented producing partner, Belén. We are all excited for them to join our writers JD Payne and Patrick McKay, and we can’t think of a better way to begin this journey to Middle-earth.”
Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy was a landmark feat for film, with 17 Academy Awards won for the overall trilogy. The trilogy’s final installment, Return of the King, took home all 11 Oscars for which it was nominated, including Best Director and Best Picture.
With such heavy pressure, Amazon and Bayona sure have much to live up to, but the one thing they don’t have to worry about is budgeting. The series is set to have a five-season deal with global rights of around $250 million. However, with the added costs of multiple others things that haven’t been accounted for yet, the series could cost as much as $1 billion. To put things into context, Jackson’s trilogy only amounted to a comparatively measly $281 million, whereas the recent Hobbit trilogy cost $623 million, per IndieWire.
Nonetheless, the Amazon Prime series is setting up to be huge. With a possible $1 billion budget, social accounts set up for the series, writers set to helm the script and, now, an established director in place, it seems we’re on course to dive back into Tolkien’s lore of Middle-earth in earnest.