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Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings gets a revealing subtitle: The Rings of Power

The showrunners behind the epic prequel shed light on what to expect

Matt Patches is an executive editor at Polygon. He has over 15 years of experience reporting on movies and TV, and reviewing pop culture.

For years now, Amazon’s Lord of the Rings show has gone by a simple title: The Lord of the Rings. But like The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King before it, the creators behind the series hoped to honor J.R.R. Tolkien by giving the prequel story its own subtitle. And on Wednesday, Prime Video set expectations with the addition of a few simple words. This September, fans will behold The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

Little is known about the whos, whats, whens, and whys of Amazon’s highly anticipated tentpole. Early on in development, Prime Video’s official account for the show promised to whisk viewers back to the Second Age, when the island of Númenor was still above water. And as the trades announced a sprawling cast of young actors who would appear in the series, one name jumped out: Welsh actor Morfydd Clark would star as a Galadriel, the Elven leader of Lothlórien played by Cate Blanchett in Peter Jackson’s trilogy. Amazon acquired the rights to Lord of the Rings all the way back in 2017, but besides a first-look image, that was basically it on details of what direction the show would take.

The announcement of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, the accompanying reveal video, and a bit of additional commentary from showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay give a clear sense of where this new saga will begin, and how it culls directly from Tolkien’s work. To start the hype for their series in a most epic fashion, Amazon literally forged The Rings of Power title treatment using molten metal and ravines cut from redwood. (And wildly, the 4K slo-mo video of metal artist Landon Ryan’s work was shot for Amazon by Klaus Obermeyer and the legendary Douglas Trumbull.)

The teaser also features what sounds like Clark delivering a speech Blanchett did back in the original movies, the words of Tolkien’s “Ring Verse” tracing the lineage of the various rings through the hands of elves, dwarves, men, and the Dark Lord himself. This passage seems to line right up with where Payne and McKay hope to take the series.

“This is a title that we imagine could live on the spine of a book next to J.R.R. Tolkien’s other classics. The Rings of Power unites all the major stories of Middle-earth’s Second Age: the forging of the rings, the rise of the Dark Lord, the epic tale of Numenor, and the Last Alliance of Elves and Men,” Payne and McKay said in a joint statement. “Until now, audiences have only seen onscreen the story of the One Ring — but before there was one, there were many … and we’re excited to share the epic story of them all.”

Brush up on those appendices tucked away in the back of your copy of Tolkien’s trilogy. Instead of Gandalf, Gollum, and whole host of hobbits, Payne and McKay, who are making their first big splash with The Power of the Ring after years of uncredited rewrite work, are calling their shot and carving an entirely new history of live-action Lord of the Rings. Joining them on the journey are executive producers Lindsey Weber (Star Trek Beyond), Callum Greene (Pacific Rim), J.A. Bayona (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom), Belén Atienza (The Orphanage), Justin Doble (Stranger Things), Jason Cahill (Halt and Catch Fire), Gennifer Hutchison (Breaking Bad), Bruce Richmond (From the Earth to the Moon), and Sharon Tal Yguado (Outcast), and producers Ron Ames (Bumblebee) and Christopher Newman (Game of Thrones). Wayne Che Yip (Preacher) is co-executive producer and directs along with Bayona and Charlotte Brändström (The Unlikely Murderer).

Poised as a “multi-season drama” — and how it could it not be at this scale, with this much ground to cover? — The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power kicks off on Sept. 2.

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