New footage, photos, and plot details from the highly anticipated Prime Video series tease never-before-explored settings and storylines, and signal to fans that it won’t be going the route of ‘Game of Thrones.’
Prime Video unveiled its first teaser trailer for The Lord of the Rings: The Ring of Power during yesterday’s Super Bowl LVI. The stirring spot aired just days after the studio shared a first look at the upcoming series, giving fans brand new revelations about its plot and characters.
Early in the trailer, we’re whisked away to a sprawling coastal city that some have speculated is most likely located on the island of Númenor. In tone-setting voice-over narration, a young woman asks, “Haven’t you ever wondered what else is out there? There’s wonders in this world beyond our wandering.”
Soon after, the woman is revealed as a harfoot, played by Markella Kavenagh. In the first look at The Rings of Power, debuted last week by Vanity Fair, harfoots - the ancestors of hobbits - are described as “lovable” and “curious,” and are identified as key players in the series.
Other characters make their grand entrance in the trailer as well, including Galadriel (Morfydd Clark); Halbrand (Charlie Vickers); the silvan elf Arondir (Ismael Cruz Cordova); Prince Durin IV (Owain Arthur); Elrond (Robert Aramayo); and Disa, princess of Khazad-dûm (Sophia Nomvete). You can see many of these fresh and familiar faces in new photos included in the VF feature.
Watch the trailer for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power:
VF’s preview first confirmed that Galadriel and Elrond would return as characters in the new story, which is set during the Second Age of Middle Earth. In Peter Jackson’s film trilogy, Galadriel and Elrond were originally played by Cate Blanchett and Hugo Weaving, respectively.
According to VF, The Rings of Power “is not based on a J.R.R. Tolkien novel per se but on the vast backstory he laid out in the appendices to the Lord of the Rings trilogy.” Showrunners Patrick McKay and JD Payne were tasked with juggling 22 stars and multiple plot threads, centering the series around Elrond’s ascent to power within the elven capitol of Lindon.
Viewers will be given an all-encompassing look at Khazad-dûm, the dwarf city nestled inside the Misty Mountains. The show will depict that kingdom during its better days, when it was still teeming with light and bountiful feasts and its air was filled with festive music.
Additional storylines will follow the elven smith Celebrimbor (Charles Edwards), who uses his skills as a metallurgist and magician to forge the titular rings, and Isildur (Maxim Baldry), a sailor who ultimately becomes a warrior and is forced to reckon with the ring’s dark power after he cuts it off Sauron’s hand.
Another major confirmed detail about the show’s style: no gratuitous sex.
Last June, Lord of the Rings fans expressed preemptive disdain for any franchise spinoff that might attempt to replicate Game of Thrones’ hard-edged sexual content, going so far as to sign a petition to keep nudity out of Amazon’s new show entirely. But when asked about whether The Rings of Power would approach GoT’s more graphic levels of sexuality, McKay responded with a resounding “no.”
“[The goal was] to make a show for everyone, for kids who are 11, 12 and 13, even though sometimes they might have to pull the blanket up over their eyes if it’s a little too scary,” McKay told VF. “We talked about the tone in Tolkien’s books. This is material that is sometimes scary - and sometimes very intense, sometimes quite political, sometimes quite sophisticated - but it’s also heartwarming and life-affirming and optimistic. It’s about friendship and it’s about brotherhood and underdogs overcoming great darkness.”
Although The Rings of Power’s exact budget has not been disclosed, the government of New Zealand - where the series was shot - placed production expenditures at $462 million for just its first season. “That figure includes building infrastructure that will be used in later seasons, and it’s been offset by a $108 million tax rebate,” VF explains.
When Amazon revealed the show’s official title in January, it did so in grand fashion, with a lavishly produced video that saw the words “The Rings of Power” forged in molten metal.
As it turns out, this teaser would be one of the last things worked on by the late, great Douglas Trumbull, who passed away last week. Tolkien fan site The One Ring spoke with Trumbull, who served as a special effects advisor, about making the title reveal.
“We all had in mind this idea of molten metal brilliantly glowing, so that there’s no question that what you’re looking at is a hot metal,” Trumbull said. “What we settled on was to mix some of these metals to get a certain color and a certain brightness. It was a combination of bronze and aluminum.”
VFX for The Rings of Power are being produced by (who else?) Weta FX. Both Jason Smith and Tim Capper serve as senior visual effects supervisor and visual effects supervisor, respectively. Smith was nominated at the 88th Academy Awards for his VFX work on The Revenant; Capper is known for his work on the visuals of Slow West, which won the World Cinema Jury Prize: Dramatic at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.
The Rings of Power premieres on Prime Video September 2, 2022.