The Rings of Power teaser looks expensive

Originally published at: The Rings of Power teaser looks expensive | Boing Boing




I thought that The Wheel of Time was their first attempt?

(Despite this positive review I only made it halfway through the first episode before deciding that it wasn’t for me.)


I actually can’t, because when everything is CGI, money becomes meaningless to my eye. How can I tell that this is more expensive than any of the dozens of superhero movies? (Except it’s more hours, true.)

At this point I feel like the cost of CGI becomes connoisseurship — this battle has five thousand agents fighting, while that one only had a thousand, or this monster has individually moving hairs, which are more expensive than that one’s scales.


Expert writing, dammit, writing (dialog and plot), over all else. With crappy writing the finest production values and acting can’t save you. With excellent writing you could pay for stick-figure animation and still receive eyeballs. [sinks ominously back into bacta tank]


I assume the series will be drawn from various stories in The Silmarillion, which was compiled from Tolkien’s detailed and extensive backstory notes to LotR (which was itself written as backstory to The Hobbit!) So the original plots are there, the stories are solid, and given the proper treatment it could be as engaging as LotR. Perhaps more, because these stories were not as widely read as the original trilogy.

And Hollywood writers have mostly nailed the formula for transcribing original writing into appropriate dialog. That’s evident in the mountain of graphic novels that they’ve turned into A-list films. (Not that they aren’t all following the Save The Cat! playbook, because they are, but they’re still entertaining.) So there’s certainly hope that these will be tales worth watching, and since they were originally penned pre-Hollywood-formula, it’s possible for them to contain some novel surprises.

But I’m still not sure how they managed to spend $1G on a TV show. Does that include building new data centers to house the rendering farms needed for all the CGI?


except they are taking a cue from Peter Jackson’s LOTR approach, and going as fully practical as they can.they are using Weta and rebuilding props and sets based on the trilogy’s style. that’s why it costs so much – it’s not digital, it’s actual sets, people, and all the things as much as they can. plus they are committed to at least 5 seasons. it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but as a fan of the Silmarillion, holy hell i can’t wait.


I guess the parts that look like “wow, that’s a billion bucks” to me are the ones that are all clearly CGI.

But nice that there will be a lot of Weta stuff, although, again, with the quality of CGI these days I think that’s still a bit of a connoisseur detail.


Amazon does not have the rights to the Silmarillion, only LOTR and the Hobbit. The Tolkien estates won’t license out anything else. They confirmed that as recently as February.

So they’re basically stuck adapting a few references from the main text, and the small amount of material in the appendixes about the 2nd age.

They apparently have a Tolkien scholar involved who’s job it is to make sure they don’t include anything from any other sources, or create anything new that too closely resembles anything else. While also making sure it doesn’t contradict anything, as that would apparently violate their agreement with the Estate.

For pedantry’s sake: The Silmarillion was prepped for publication by Tolkien multiple times, a version under a different title (Think it was Book Of Lost Tales) was rejected by his publisher before Lord of The Rings. The version we have is the last version he prepped, which was completed from his notes and other works by his son.

LOTR was not written as back story for the Hobbit. It takes place after, and was written after. LOTR was written to utilize material from the rejected Silmarillion manuscript into a narrative and a proper sequel to the Hobbit. As demanded by his publisher. The Hobbit actually needed to be changed slightly in it’s next edition to properly tie it to the War of The Ring narrative.

The materials the Silmarillion was completed with would have been notes about the Silmarillion, earlier versions of it, material prepped for LOTR, but also the extensive mount of unpublished Middle Earth material Tolkien was basing it all on.

End Pedantry

Point being there’d be a fuck load. An epic fuck load. Of material to base this on. But they’re not allowed to use any of it.


Not sure I see much LotR DNA in GoT. More like the War of the Roses if the traditional fairy tales and superstitions of the time had been real.

Moreover, the difference in tone is obvious. GoT is HBO dark, violent, and edgy. Even Children of Hurin, the darkest of the Middle Earth source material, isn’t at the same level as GoT.

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Thanks for the details!

I’m a bit surprised that with that budget Tolkien’s estate wouldn’t sell.

I like how there’s space between every part of dialogue for a laugh track sound effect. Who writes this crack.

“There was a time when the world was so young…” (setup)
“There had not been a sunrise!” (LAUGHTER at crappy line)

“But even then…” (setup)
“There was light!” (LAUGHTER at crappy line)

“Call to me Call to me” (hilariously cheesy fantasy song)
“Elves have forests to protect!” (LAUGHTER)


Christopher Tolkien was very, very opposed to adaptation and licensing things out in general. And refused to sell or lease any rights at all.

The Hobbit and LOTR film and TV rights were sold by JRR decades ago and have just been out there. Amazon managed to collect them up from the wild.

Christopher retired handing off management of the estate to younger family members, then passed in 2020.

That there’s any cooperation with the Estate at all is down to those younger family members being more open to licensing. There was apparently a serious reworking of the rights and licensing for Amazon.

There’s been rumors that Amazon had gotten access to something else, but at most it seems to be notes about the appendices. Or permission to use things there that might step on rights for other works.

Otherwise they seem to be holding to the don’t license anything new thing for now.

I’ve been enjoying how poorly written that trailer is for about fifteen minutes now.

Can someone verify if this was a Tolkien line? Perhaps @Ryuthrowsstuff knows? This wasn’t written anywhere by Tolkien, right? If so, was it from his drunk nights at ye ole tavern?

It’s very funny to take this opening line seriously. What is the math for how this even makes sense? If there wasn’t a sunrise, how was there light? Maybe the sun just popped down on a cable? How would there be a forest without light to build a tree? (you’d need at least 1,000 sunrises for even a small bunch of trees, let alone 10,000 sunrises for a forest)

You can’t wrap bad writing in a billion dollars worth of sound effects and delicate narration to make it work. This isn’t the writer’s fault. Because no one is able to contribute without committee on big vehicle crap like this. I’m sure it was hundreds of people’s input. A bunch of doubt. A bunch of audience testing. Offend no one, but inspire! Maybe it was a nice opening line like “There was a time long ago” and it got workshopped into “There had not been a sunrise!” You can’t recover from an opening line like that.

I’m reminded of my favorite line from the animated Tick show, where he is frightening a bunch of kids around a campfire. I can’t remember the exact phrasing but it’s one of the funniest lines ever written, and intentionally so: “There once was a time where everything that is air … was wood!”

The more you think about everything being turned to wood the funnier it gets. The air in your lungs: Wood! The air around you: Wood! It’s an endless horror. I’m getting the line partially wrong, but that’s how you write something. Evoke the mind! The trailer reminded me of it, but not on purpose. I miss good writing. That animated Tick show was brilliant.

Not to my knowledge. It appears to be glossing some explanation bout them trees from the appendices though. Seem like clunky dialogue/narration based on a foot note for sure.

They do not have the licenses to tell you!


Hence, the absolutely timeless brilliance of “Rejected”

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Tolkien’s silmarillion does mention 2 trees as the source of light, before the sun and moon were made.

“In seven hours the glory of each tree waxed to full and waned again to naught; and each awoke once more to life an hour before the other ceased to shine. Thus in Valinor twice every day there came a gentle hour of softer light when both trees were faint and their gold and silver beams were mingled.”

I believe there were also 2 lamps on towers taller than mountains, before the 2 trees, that lit the world that were destroyed as well. Many creation myth stories in the silmarillion.


Ah, praise to you, @beetleshake ! Thanks for that. i appreciate the text there.

On one hand, I sort of feel “go home, Tolkien, you’re drunk.” But I do like it written as something loose and imaginative. So he was a little high and got fancy about two glowing trees. cool.

So make it magnificent with the interpretation! All the more, it highlights exactly how the rewrite of the trailer slips. They could have held to the tree symbol; instead they try to resolve poetry into a tangible and state what isn’t there. It makes it laughable. I suppose since they didn’t have the rights to quote the nice prose there so they thought to just rewrite it into a cliffs note. “World was so young there weren’t even been a sunrise” is still a cracked bell clunker.

Stoned jokes aside, the way Tolkien writes this is very lovely. I appreciate the reference. Definitely respect you for providing it, too. Thank you.

Hollywood should die, really, as a means of ingesting literature, or representing literary ideas. But that’s another topic.

I don’t even like the adaptations, but goodness we need shorter copyright terms.


In the hope of being able to ascertain exactly what bits of Tolkien’s writings Amazon had permission to use, I checked out the Wikipedia page for this show and found mischief afoot.