EXCLUSIVE: As pre-production on Amazon Studios’ high-profile Lord Of the Rings TV series is gearing up in New Zealand, the streamer is moving ahead with an early Season 2 renewal for the sprawling adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy novels. As part of that, Amazon has commissioned the reassembling of the writers room to break the second season. Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke confirmed to Deadline the news that the second season of LOTR is already in the works during the company’s holiday party Sunday night at the H Club in Hollywood.
Amazon Studios acquired global TV rights to The Lord of the Rings in a blockbuster November 2017 deal. It included a multi-season commitment to a LOTR series as well as a potential spinoff series. Still, each consecutive season after the first has to be formally greenlighted by the streaming network.
The early Season 2 pickup is good news for fans as it will allow for a shorter break between the end of Season 1 and the premiere of Season 2 on Prime Video,, which is available in 240-plus countries and territories..
In conjunction with the early renewal, the LOTR series will go on a 4-5-month hiatus after filming the first two episodes from Season 1, directed by J.A. Bayona. The writing team of the series, led by showrunners and executive producers J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, will use the time to map out and write the bulk of Season 2 scripts.
Taking a break after the opening episode or two is standard practice for shows with straight-to-series orders as it allows producers and executives to step back and evaluate the footage much like they would do with a pilot. By going on a longer than normal hiatus, LOTR will be ready with Season 2 scripts so it could possibly film some Season 2 footage during the Season 1 shoot or even film the remainder of Season 1 and Season 2 back-to-back.
That was a strategy used by Peter Jackson in shooting his blockbuster LOTR movie trilogy, also in New Zealand. That is considered a sensible approach for big-budget productions like LOTR as it helps find efficiencies because every filming ramp-up is expensive. Additionally, by extending the hiatus, the series, which, in keeping with the Tolkien mythology is expected to shoot primarily outdoors, will return to production after the winter season in New Zealand is over.
Set in Middle Earth, the TV series will explore new storylines preceding J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring. The lead cast, which is yet to be confirmed by Amazon, is believed to include Will Poulter, Markella Kavenagh and Joseph Mawle
The Lord of the Rings series is produced by Amazon Studios. In addition to showrunners Payne and McKay, executive producers include Bayona and his producing partner Belén Atienza, Lindsey Weber, Bruce Richmond, Gene Kelly, Sharon Tal Yguado as well as writers Gennifer Hutchison; Jason Cahill and Justin Doble
Bryan Cogman and Stephany Folsom are consulting producers, Ron Ames a producer, Helen Shang a co-producer, and Glenise Mullins a writing consultant.
The rest of the series’ creative team includes costume designer: Kate Hawley (Suicide Squad), production designer: Rick Heinrichs (Star Wars: The Last Jedi), visual effects supervisor: Jason Smith (The Revenant), Tolkien scholar Tom Shippey and renowned illustrator/concept artist John Howe.