The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power will not attempt to “compete” Peter Jackson’s legendary film trilogy when the first releases later this year.
That’s according to co-showrunner Patrick McKay, who said Empire Magazine (opens in new tab) that The Rings of Power does not attempt to replicate the award-winning work that Jackson and company conducted on their The Lord of the Rings film series.
While The Rings of Power is set during the Second Age – an era that precedes the events of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit – it’s understandable why comparisons have been made between the Prime Video show and Jackson’s film adaptations. Amazon’s Lord of the Rings series is being positioned as a comprehensive, multi-narrative show that is primarily fantasy-based, but that leans towards other genres. Given that Jackson’s films have done the same, and how influential they’ve been on the fantasy genre over the past couple of decades, it would be a mistake if The Rings of Power’s core creative team didn’t look to their two film trilogies for inspiration.
Still, despite McKay admitting that he and co-creator JD Payne were “admirers” of Jackson’s works, it would be foolish for the duo to try to copy his design for the Prime Video TV series.
“Anyone approaching The Lord of the Rings on screen would be wrong not to think how wonderfully right [Jackson] I have a lot of that,” McKay said. “But we are admirers from afar, that’s all. The Rings Of Power doesn’t try to compete with him.”
Released between 2001 and 2003, Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings film trilogy is one of the biggest and most successful fantasy film series of all time. The three films cumulatively grossed $2.99 billion at the global box office, while the trio won multiple awards (including a record 11 Oscars at the 76th Academy Awards in 2004) across multiple disciplines. The Hobbit trilogy was less successful — at least in terms of awards — between 2012 and 2014, but still made $2.93 billion in ticket sales worldwide.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power won’t even come close to matching those numbers – it’s a TV show, after all – but Amazon Studios is hoping to attract new subscribers to its streaming service. The Rings of Power will release exclusively on Prime Video on September 2, 2022.
Analysis: tapping into a new era
It makes sense that Payne, McKay and company aren’t looking to replicate Jackson’s iconic works. Comparisons are already being made between The Rings of Power and Jackson’s two film trilogies, with fans of the latter – and JRR Tolkien fans in general – divided over Amazon’s decision to make a Lord of the Rings TV show.
Distancing the series from what came before, then, is a smart move. Of course, parallels will still be drawn between The Rings of Power and other live-action adaptations of Tolkien’s works. But Amazon’s Lord of the Rings deserves a chance to prove whether it will be a worthwhile investment – for Amazon Studios and the public – without the fear of being scrapped before it’s released.
It also helps that The Rings of Power draws on elements of The Lord of the Rings lore rather than directly adapting beloved tales the way Jackson’s trilogies did. Yes, Amazon’s Lord of the Rings is set during the Second Age, but it will tell original stories – set in Middle-earth – around key events, battles, and the rise and fall of civilizations that took place at that time.
Add introducing new characters, as well as detailing the backstories of key players, including Galadriel, Elrond, Isildur, and Durin IV, into the equation, and The Rings of Power have free rein – which is endorsed by Tolkien’s estate from anyway – to take the Lord of the Rings franchise in a new direction. As long as the show is respectful of Middle-earth lore and everything that has come before it, it should sound (pun entirely intended) in a new era for Tolkien’s legendary series.