“Rings of Power” showrunner Patrick McKay explains why the upcoming Amazon series isn’t really a prequel to “The Lord of the Rings.” Following Peter Jackson’s hugely successful adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit for New Line Cinema, Rings of Power will be Amazon Studios’ first foray into the fantasy world of Middle-Earth. In 2017, Amazon acquired the television rights to “The Lord of the Rings” for $250 million and committed to five seasons of “The Ring of Power” with a whopping $1 billion production cost, making it the most expensive series ever created.
Shortly after the purchase, McKay and J.D. Payne were invited as showrunners. Although they are not listed in the film’s credits, some of the duo’s past work includes writing a draft script for 2016’s “Star Trek Beyond.” In addition to Payne and McKay, the creative team also includes Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom from J.A. Bayona, who directs the first episodes and acts as an executive producer. The action of The Ring of Power, based on the story of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth, takes place during the Second Epoch, thousands of years before the events of The Lord of the Rings. However, there is now a debate about whether this is actually a prequel.
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During a new interview with EW, “Rings of Power” showrunner Patrick McKay explained why, in his opinion, the upcoming series is not a prequel to “The Lord of the Rings”. McKay says that instead of doing a show about a younger version of Middle-earth, their goal was to tell a story that could exist on its own. Read what he said below:
We weren’t interested in doing a show about a younger version of the same world that you knew where it’s something like a prequel. We wanted to go the way, the way, the way back and find a story that could exist on its own. We felt that it was not told at the level, scale and depth that we thought it deserved.
Despite the fact that “Rings of Power” is often called a prequel to “The Lord of the Rings”, McKay gives a good reason why this should not be. Despite the rationalization of the showrunner, The Rings of Power will still function primarily as precursors to The Lord of the Rings, exploring numerous origin stories such as the creation of the legendary rings and the rise of the Dark Lord Sauron. The series will also feature younger versions of characters from Peter Jackson’s films — Elrond (now played by Robert Aramayo) and Galadriel (played by Morfydd Clark).
The debate over whether “Rings of Power” is a prequel to “The Lord of the Rings” is mostly centered around technical details that seem to boil down to rights issues. For legal reasons, The Rings of Power cannot be considered a direct prequel to the trilogies of The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit films, since these rights remain with Warner Bros. However, “Rings of Power” was created in a style similar to Jackson’s films, which have similar feelings for fans of the Lord of the Rings.