Amazon's billion-dollar, five-season Lord of the Rings adaptation is slowly gathering steam, bulldozing inexorably towards an attempt at streaming TV domination, and accumulating personnel along the way. Now it's got a director, who's no stranger to big-budget effects work: Juan Antonio Bayona, director of The Orphanage, A Monster Calls, and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. He'll direct the first two episodes, setting the tone for the series, and remain as executive producer for the show's run, joined by producing partner Belén Atienza.
Bayona is certainly excited about the series, saying (according to Deadline): “I can’t wait to take audiences around the world back to Middle-earth and have them discover the wonders of the Second Age, with a never-before-seen story.” That story, drawn on ancillary Tolkien material and a healthy portion of original writing, comes to us from lead writers JD Payne and Patrick McKay, who wrote Star Trek Beyond and a currently-shelved fourth Star Trek film, and a writers' room including Game of Thrones' Bryan Cogman. Apart from taking place before The Lord of the Rings proper, we don't really know what it'll actually be about. Payne and McKay are excited about Bayona, too, citing his "epic, cinematic, and deeply heartfelt aesthetic."
They're not wrong! Bayona's films haven't all been great holistically, but his direction has been pretty damn impeccable throughout his career. Even Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, a hot mess from a character and story perspective, is filled with setpieces that are the series' best since The Lost World's clifftop T-Rex sequence. His films are draped in style and atmosphere, and a big fantasy property like The Lord of the Rings surely offers him further opportunity to create such work. To what degree he'll follow or depart from Peter Jackson's iconic take on the material remains to be seen.
What also remains to be seen is whether or not Amazon spending a billion dollars (approximately 0.5% of Jeff Bezos' fortune, for fans of economic inequality) will be a good investment. Is anyone truly excited about this show? Did the ordeal of The Hobbit simply exhaust audiences on Tolkien adaptations? Sound off in the comments below.