This year, the Lord of the Rings will enter a new live-action storytelling era, as J.R.R. Tolkien's beloved epic fantasy universe gets new life on the small-screen with The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. One of the most expensive and ambitious streaming series ever mounted, the Amazon Prime Video project will take us back centuries before the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to the Second Age of Middle-earth, a time of prosperity for several civilizations that will also become a time of great danger.
On September 1, we'll finally get to see what the massive creative team behind the series has been working on when The Rings of Power premieres. For now, we're gathering everything we've learned about so far – from the sprawling cast to the intriguing teasers – in one place.
The Rings of Power release date
The series that would become The Rings of Power has been in the works since 2017, when Amazon first landed the rights to develop a streaming show based on Tolkien's vast world. Five years later, and it's almost time to see what the creative team behind the series has been working on.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power will premiere September 1, 2022 at 9pm EST on Amazon Prime Video, with new episodes arriving weekly on Fridays after that. Season 1 is set to run for eight episodes.
The Rings of Power trailer
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power – Teaser Trailer | Prime Video
Footage to promote The Rings of Power has so far been a bit hard to come by, but Amazon did finally release the first teaser trailer for the series in February of 2022. As you'd expect for a show like this, it's devoted to playing up the epic tone The Rings of Power hopes to capture, and evokes plenty of comparisons to Peter Jackson's two Tolkien-inspired film trilogies based on The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. We don't get anything in terms of a plot, but we do several sweeping shots of everything from beautiful Middle-earth landscapes to gorgeously engineered cities, as well as numerous close-ups of characters in battle, while other characters look to the horizon, suggesting the adventures they're all about to have.
The Rings of Power setting
Obviously, since this is a Lord of the Rings show, we can expect the action of The Rings of Power to unfold in Middle-earth, Tolkien's vast central continent where various races of beings struggle against the forces of darkness to persist and advance their lives. This time around, it's when the series takes place that's especially interesting.
Amazon confirmed as the first details of the series rolled out that The Rings of Power will unfold "thousands of years" before the events of The Hobbit, in the era Tolkien dubbed "The Second Age." What does that mean? Well, many of the same races of beings you know from The Lord of the Rings – including Men, Elves, and Dwarves – will still be around, usually building grand civilizations that are in decline by the time we see them in the Third Age explored by Peter Jackson's films. It also means certain other aspects of Middle-earth society will be a bit different. Hobbits, for example, haven't really settled in the Shire yet, and they're not called Hobbits. Instead, they're a nomadic group of Halflings known as "Harfoots." And as for the realms of men, The Rings of Power will also give us our first-ever live-action look at the fabled city of Numenor, an island empire that has long since fallen by the time of The Hobbit.
The Rings of Power cast
As you may have guessed, the sprawling landscape of Middle-earth in The Rings of Power calls for an equally sprawling cast, and Amazon has assembled a truly epic ensemble to play characters both familiar and brand new. On the familiar front, Morfydd Clark (Saint Maud) has joined the show as the Elven leader Galadriel, while Robert Aramayo (Behind Her Eyes) will play Galadriel's counterpart in Rivendell, Elrond. Elsewhere among the Elves, Benjamin Walker is on board to play their High King Gil-galad, while Charles Edwards will play the Elven ringsmith Celebrimbor.
Among the Dwarves, we'll meet Owain Arthur as Khazad-dum King Durin IV, and Sophia Nomvete as Princess Disa, while the realm of men will introduce us to a new version of the future king Isildur, played by Maxim Baldry. We'll also meet several Harfoots, including Markella Kavenagh as Elanor "Nori" Brandyfoot, and Megan Richards as Poppy Proudfellow. Other members of the massive cast include Sir Lenny Henry, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Ian Blackburn, Nazanin Boniadi, Charles Edwards, Trystan Gravelle, Ema Horvath, Joseph Mawle, Geoff Morrell, David Weyman, and many, many more.
The Rings of Power synopsis
As you might guess from the show's title, The Rings of Power will deal in some form with the creation of the title rings, including the three made for the Elves, the seven made for Dwarves, the nine made for Men, and the One Ring to Rule Them All. Beyond that, though, Amazon's still keeping much of the plot under wraps. Here's how the streamer describes the show:
"This epic drama is set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and will take viewers back to an era in which great powers were forged, kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin, unlikely heroes were tested, hope hung by the finest of threads, and the greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness. Beginning in a time of relative peace, the series follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth. From the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains, to the majestic forests of the elf-capital of Lindon, to the breathtaking island kingdom of Númenor, to the furthest reaches of the map, these kingdoms and characters will carve out legacies that live on long after they are gone."
The Rings of Power writers and directors
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power will be helmed by co-showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, a writing team whose previous work together includes Star Trek Beyond, Jungle Cruise, and the acclaimed Blacklist screenplay Escape. In sculpting the larger story for the Second Age, Payne described their approach in the context of Tolkien's own perspective.
"It was like Tolkien put some stars in the sky and let us make out the constellations," he said. "In his letters [particularly in one to his publisher], Tolkien talked about wanting to leave behind a mythology that 'left scope for other minds and hands, wielding the tools of paint, music and drama.' We're doing what Tolkien wanted. As long as we felt like every invention of ours was true to his essence, we knew we were on the right track."
To direct the series, Amazon turned to J.A. Bayona (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom), who helmed the first two episodes of the eight-episode first season. The remaining six episodes are (so far) credited to directors Charlotte Brändström (The Outsider) and Wayne Che Yip (The Wheel of Time).
The Rings of Power episodes
The first season of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power will run for eight epic episodes, but there's already a larger plan in place for the larger arc of the entire series. Showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay have noted that Amazon purchased rights to craft a "50-hour show" based on Tolkien's world, suggesting at least four more seasons' worth of episodes to come, should the show catch on with audiences.
The Rings of Power filming locations
Strictly speaking, The Rings of Power is not connected to the Lord of the Rings films helmed by director Peter Jackson, but there is of course plenty of shared story DNA between the films and the upcoming series. To emphasize this, Season 1 of The Rings of Power was filmed on location in New Zealand, Jackson's home country which famously stood in for Middle-earth on the big screen.
In the summer of 2021, Amazon announced that subsequent seasons of The Rings of Power will be filmed in the United Kingdom as part of Amazon Studios' commitment to stepping up production in that country. Post-production on the first season was expected to continue in New Zealand through June of 2022.
The Rings of Power second season
If you were hoping to get a guarantee that there'd be more Rings of Power beyond the eight-episode first season this year, you're in luck. In August of 2021, Amazon announced that it was already planning the second season, with a production launch in 2022. That means that, hopefully by 2023, a second round of episodes will be on the way.