Amazon brought down Hall H this morning with its reported $1 billion series, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, complete with an orchestra and operatic chorus led by composer Bear McCreary. Oh, and J.R.R. Tolkien devotee Stephen Colbert moderated the session.
All of this sent the immediate message to LOTR fans just how high stakes this new adaptation is, and how serious Prime Video is about it.
Following Colbert’s intro, Amazon threw the curtain open on the three screens in Hall H and played a teaser revealing the fabled Second Age of Middle Earth through rumbling sound and visual spectacle.
“The depth of the text and implied text is what is extraordinary,” said Colbert to the filled-to-the-gills Hall H, “one of the pieces that is thinnest is in the Second Age and that’s where The Rings of Power is set thousands of years before Frodo and Sam.”
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Rings of Power is inspired by author J.R.R. Tolkien’s extensive notes in the appendices of The Return of the King, and from The Silmarillion — Tolkien’s dense compendium that’s more mythology than story, much of which was written after The Hobbit and before the Lord of the Rings books. The Silmarillion has five parts, two of which look to be a basis for Amazon’s series.
“It’s a story of hope and approaching darkness,” the late-night show host added, “this being Tolkien, it’s a story of loss.”
Colbert promised the crowd he’d ask all the important questions — i.e. “Why do elves get short haircuts and where is the salon? Do female dwarves have beards?”
In response to the latter question, EP Lindsey Weber verified that they do, in fact have beards, though Princess Disa, who is included in the newly-released character posters, is smoothfaced.
At the end of the panel, one fan asked if the EPs of the show would finally give Colbert a role in LOTR which drew a huge cheer from the crowd. Payne stood up and had Colbert sign a contract.
EP Patrick McKay said in this frosh season, “we’re re-introducing Middle-Earth…and the return of evil.”
As seen in the teaser that kicked off the session, the series will focus on the forging of the rings: Seven for the dwarf lords, nine for the mortal men doomed to die, one for the dark lord.
At the center of this world which counts elves and dwarves as citizens is the human civilization of Númenor, something of a renaissance Florence if you will, which influenced the rest of the Lord of the Rings’ world. But like ancient Rome, hubris bubbles underneath Númenor with the island ultimately sliding into the sea. Númenórean royals are half human and half elves, and they’ve been friends for years with their latter counterparts. But there’s a divide with some allegiant to elves and Valar while others yearn for a more independent future.
EP J.D. Payne said the kingdom’s downfall sees the “factionalization of these groups pulling these groups apart.”
“It’s timely for not just our culture or any other culture around the world,” continued Payne.
“A deeply painful story,” the EP added, “but something we might learn from it.”
The new trailer released in Hall H today shows peaceful times in the LOTR sphere, but “the skies are strange” as the dwarf says. We see Morfydd Clark’s Galadriel placing her hand on a globe and seeing bloody battles take place. There’s plenty of dragon, lush New Zealand environs, hellish locales, not to mention we see Sauron for the first time. “Together we can survive this,” says the voiceover, “Fight with me. Each of us must decide who we shall be.”
Take a look:
More clips were shown in the room.
The first showed Owain Arthur’s dwarf Prince Durin IV facing off in a rock chopping competition before his kin against elven Elrond, played by Robert Aramayo. Durin succeeds with his ax. But it’s not clear if Elrond is as strong.
In the second clip, Nori (Markella Kavenagh) and Poppy Proudfellow (Megan Richards) find a sleeping mortal giant amid a burning circle. Nori wakes him, and the fires goes off, but roars up again when he falls back to sleep. They swear not to tell their parents. Both are harfoots, which are the ancestors of the hobbits, people who are full of life, song, joy and family, yet nomads and far from the Shire.
In the third, we see Ismael Cruz Cordova’s Arondir in action. He’s part of an enslaved pit and he’s chained up, pulling against the orc-like creatures who’ve captured him. He powers enough to grab an ax, jump in the air and chop the canopy over the beasts, collapsing it down.
In a fourth, we see Morfydd Clark’ Galadriel speaking thick elvish with Elrond in what appears to be an early romantic moment.
In another awe-dropping sequence, Galadriel sails into Númenor, which is surrounded by ancient rocks, pantheons and cliffs of sculpted faces.
Appearing at today’s panel were a ton of actors from the series including Charles Edward (Celebrimbor), Daniel Weyman (The Stranger), Sophia Nomvete (Princess Disa), Nazanin Boniadi (Bronwyn), Sara Zwangobani (Marigold), Trystan Gravelle (Pharazon), Charles Vickers (Halbrand), Leon Wadham (Kemen), Ema Horvath (Earien), Lloyd Owen (Elendil), Tyroe Muhafidin (Theo), Maxim Baldry (Isildur), Benjamin Walker (Gil-galed), Aramayo (Elrond), Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Miriel), Cruz Cordova, Kevenagh, Richards, Arthur and Clark.