Nomadic hobbits, bearded dwarfs and enslaved elves – Amazon finally lifted the lid on its highly anticipated The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power TV series at Comic-Con on Friday.
The hugely ambitious small-screen saga set in the world of JRR Tolkien’s books has been in the works since Amazon Prime bought the rights for $250 million (roughly Rs. 1,996 crore) nearly five years ago.
Fans, many of whom camped out online overnight at the world’s most famous pop culture gathering, were treated to a first look at the footage, along with interviews with the creators and a cast of 21 Hobbits, dwarves and elves in a presentation hosted by comedian and Tolkien enthusiast Stephen Colbert.
“As fans and as viewers and lovers of Middle-earth and Tolkien, we didn’t want to do a side thing, or a spin-off, or the origin story of something else” , said co-creator Patrick McKay.
“We wanted to find a massive Tolkian mega epic. And Amazon was, wonderfully, crazy enough to say ‘yes, let’s do this. “”
Amazon has reportedly spent more than $1 billion to create five seasons – each 10 hours long – which will premiere on its streaming platform on September 2 and which “reintroduce” the world of Middle-earth from Tolkien, said McKay.
Younger versions of the elves Galadriel and Elrond – characters familiar to fans of Peter Jackson’s Oscar-winning Lord of the Rings trilogy – will be played by Morfydd Clark and Robert Aramayo.
But with the new TV show set 4,000 years before Jackson’s trilogy, in a fictional “Second Age” – a historical period sketched out in less detail by Tolkien’s writings – the creators had license to create many new characters.
“The field was wide open,” said co-creator JD Payne.
“Amazon bought the rights to basically 10,000 years of Middle-earth history and said, ‘Alright guys, let’s take all comers and see what you have to say.’
“We felt the Second Age was really great. It’s Tolkien’s incredible untold story, which is so iconic with the creation of the Rings of Power.”
Gorgeous and regal beard
The series is said to be a personal obsession of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and represents the company’s biggest play yet in the so-called “streaming wars” with rivals such as Netflix and Disney+. .
Much of that cost was spent on lavish production values, evident to fans crammed into the 6,000-capacity Hall H of the San Diego Convention Center, where they were treated to five clips of the show, as well as a new trailer.
While plot details remain under wraps, the books’ sprawling and detailed settings, including the island kingdom of Numenor – projected onto a giant screen enveloping three-quarters of the arena – drew audible gasps.
“We built an entire city with multiple city blocks and an entire wharf – it’s crazy and huge,” McKay said.
“We built as much as any group of humans could,” added executive producer Lindsey Weber.
A clip during the 90-minute presentation featured a group of Harfoots, nomadic ancestors of “Lord of the Rings” hobbits, who live in traveling wagons rather than holes.
Another showed a wealthy dwarf kingdom – complete with the saga’s first bearded dwarfs – and a third clip found a group of elves in chains, forced to work for a gang of evil orcs.
“We are establishing the dwarf for the first time,” Sophia Nomvete, who plays the dwarf princess Disa, told AFP after the presentation.
“We went for a version, a gorgeous, regal application, one hair at a time, a divine, detailed version of a beard for the dwarf, and I know you’re going to love it!”
‘Thrones’ and Zombies Comic-Con is once again taking place in person and at full capacity of 130,000 for the first time in three years, after being moved online due to the pandemic.
The Rings of Power will square off at the event with House of the Dragon, a spinoff of HBO’s Game of Thrones rival fantasy series coming out next month and having its own presentation at Comic-Con on Saturday.
Elsewhere, post-apocalyptic zombie series The Walking Dead had its final presentation at Comic-Con on Friday, where the final eight episodes of the record-breaking cable show were confirmed to debut on October 2.
But the undead franchise lives on, with fan favorite Andrew Lincoln telling ecstatic fans he’ll be reprising his role as Rick Grimes for a limited series next year.
And Disney will conclude the event’s main presentations on Saturday night with a presentation that is expected to introduce its Marvel superheroes, including the highly anticipated sequel “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”
Check out the latest from the Consumer Electronics Show on Gadgets 360, in our CES 2023 hub.