Everybody’s renewing their yet-to-be-released shows lately. Netflix did it with Sandman and The Witcher, and Amazon did it with The Wheel of Time. Now, Deadline reports that Amazon has struck again with an early renewal for its fabulously expensive Lord of the Rings series, which we’re not expecting to see a first season for until 2021 at the earliest.
In the cast of the Lord of the Rings show, a second season may have been a foregone conclusion. Back when Amazon struck a deal with the Tolkien estate to make this show, it paid $250 million for the TV rights alone, plus another $250 to produce the first two seasons. So unless Amazon wanted to call the whole thing off, this was always going to happen.
Nevertheless, this is good news for fans looking forward to the show, since it probably means they won’t have to wait an eternity between seasons 1 and 2. Shows this lavish take a while to put together, which has been an issue for series like Westworld and, in its later seasons, Game of Thrones. Although Amazon’s hands may have been tied in the case of Rings, this spate of early renewals seems to be a bid to prevent long waits between seasons. HBO is getting into it, too, with filming on a second season of His Dark Materials happening right now, as the first season airs.
Of course, there are risks involved in that, too. What if the first seasons of these shows flop? Then the networks have already committed to spending money on a show that hasn’t caught on. But such is life in the exciting world of high-budget fantasy TV.
The early renewal for Rings also comes with a built-in 4-5 month hiatus after filming on the first and second episodes of season 1 concludes. The break will give showrunners and executive producers J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay a chance to assess how the early footage has turned out and to map out the scripts for season 2. This is a pretty common practice on shows that get ordered straight to series. It’s kind of like having a pilot without having one.
As for the show itself, we still don’t know a ton about it. We know that it’s set during the Second Age of Middle-earth, back when Sauron was forging the rings of power, and that it’ll feature actors Markella Kavenagh, Will Poulter, Maxim Baldry and Joseph Mawle. Amazon is also looking for extras, so if you want to be an elf or a hobbit or whatever while frolicking around New Zealand, now’s your chance.