Though he claimed that he knew “very little”, he revealed that production hasn’t kicked off yet because there are lots to prepare for such as costumes, props and locations. Filming locations have yet to be confirmed as the team is still finalising the script.
Shippey explained that the series may face some creative problems in terms of the script due to the time period it’s focused on. Not much is known about the Second Age except for whatever the book author Tolkien himself had written. Shippey said that the info they had filled three pages of timeline based off the appendices to the Lord of the Rings and the List of Kings of Númenor and the Unfinished Tales. Thus, he stressed on the “great importance” for the series to determine the exact timeline of the plot.
When asked about the amount of creative freedom that Amazon has to fill in the gaps, Shippey responded that they relatively do “when it comes to adding something” like new characters. But it still goes back to the Tolkien Estate who insists that “the main shape of the Second Age is not altered”. The series is very much under the watchful eye of the Tolkien Estate and they can say no to any changes that concerns Tolkien.
Anything that happens in the First and Third Ages are “off-limits” if they’re not connected to occurrences in the Second Age. This is because the rights to the First Age belong to the Tolkien Estate while the rights to the events in the Third Age (The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings) are with Middle-earth Enterprises.
Shippey called it “a bit of a minefield” because besides the script, even the maps must be authorised by Tolkien. This is tricky because some maps have places that are not found on other maps. So the team would have to be very careful.
As a result of these uncertainties, the project cannot progress yet. But according to Shippey, Season 1 of the series may run for 20 episodes. Wow! It’s comforting to know that the story will be given plenty of time to develop since Amazon aims for the show to be the next “Game of Thrones”.
Compared to GoT’s episode count for each season, Amazon’s Lord of the Rings would be double. Hopefully it is what’s necessary to do the story justice and not compromise it in any way like pacing. When a plot progresses too slowly, it could kill the series.
Amazon is still keeping the show mostly under wraps. So far, we only know Markella Kavenagh potentially being in the series as a character named Tyra. Last we heard is that they were still holding auditions so perhaps we’ll soon hear more updates.
And as much as fans would love to Orlando Bloom reprise his role as Legolas, it looks highly unlikely because he’s starring in another fantasy series called Carnival Row alongside Cara Delevingne. Even Andy Serkis, another familiar LOTR face, might not be involved either since signing up to direct the upcoming Venom sequel.