Amazon has selected a director for its upcoming Lord of the Rings TV series: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’s J.A. Bayona, reports Deadline. Bayona will direct the first two episodes of the series and will serve as executive producer along with producer Belén Atienza. The announcement doesn’t reveal when the series will debut on Amazon Prime Video or what other directors will be involved in the series.
In the announcement, Bayona confirmed what Amazon had been teasing earlier this year: the show will be set in the “Second Age” of Middle-earth, and it will be a “never before seen story.” Jennifer Salke, the head of Amazon Studios, said in a statement that “the scope and breadth of J.A.’s world-building is exactly the right fit for our ambitions for The Lord of the Rings. He’s a passionate and collaborative director who has brought new stories to life with his multitalented producing partner, Belén.” Bayona most recently directed the latest installment of the Jurassic Park franchise, but he’s also known for films like A Monster Calls, The Impossible, and The Orphanage. He’s also worked in television before: he directed the first two episodes of Showtime’s Penny Dreadful.
In 2017, Amazon officially greenlit the series for multiple seasons, and last year, it hired writers JD Payne and Patrick McKay to write and develop the series. The studio has also been rumored to have been talking with Peter Jackson about keeping the world of the series consistent with that of his two film trilogies.
Amazon revealed earlier this year that the show would be set before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogy. While his novels are better known, Tolkien developed an enormous world and history, of which the books are a tiny part. This series appears to be taking place thousands of years earlier, chronicling the rise of Sauron and the creation of the rings of power. Amazon has also teased that the kingdom of Númenor — which is essentially Tolkien’s equivalent of Atlantis — will play a part.
Tolkien’s world is a huge get for Amazon, which is working to grow its customer base as companies like Apple and Disney muscle their way into the streaming video market, especially as HBO’s Game of Thrones just ended. HBO has at least three Game of Thrones spinoff shows in the works, and other streaming platforms, like WarnerMedia, are readying their own epic shows, like a tie-in series for Denis Villeneuve’s forthcoming film Dune. With Lord of the Rings, Amazon will have its own major franchise that already has widespread name recognition.