Deadline is reporting that Amazon has hired Juan Antonio (J.A.) Bayona to direct the first two episodes of their The Lord of the Rings television series, which is being created to run on their Prime Video service. Bayona recently directed Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.
The series will explore new areas of the story-lines surrounding the world of Middle Earth, which was created by British author J.R.R. Tolkien for his Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings stories.
Bayona is, of course, thrilled with his new gig:
"J.R.R. Tolkien created one of the most extraordinary and inspiring stories of all time, and as a lifelong fan it is an honor and a joy to join this amazing team. I can't wait to take audiences around the world to Middle-earth and have them discover the wonders of the Second Age, with a never before seen story."
Bayona will not only direct the first two episodes, he will be an executive producer alongside his producing partner, Belén Atienza.
The new The Lord of the Rings series is being written by JD Payne and Patrick McKay, with a writer's room believed to include scribes from Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones. Here's Payne and McKay on Bayona's hire:
"We are thrilled to have J.A. and Belen joining the fellowship as we continue to develop this epic series. We have been great admirers of J.A.'s work for years, and know that his epic, cinematic, and deeply heartfelt aesthetic is the perfect sensibility to bring Middle-earth to life anew."
While I wasn't a huge fan of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, I have enjoyed a lot of Bayona's work. His first feature film was The Orphanage, in collaboration with Guillermo del Toro. He wnet on to direct A Monster Calls, The Impossible, and the first two episodes of Penny Dreadful for Showtime, which were stunning.
Here's Jennifer Salke, Head of Amazon Studios:
"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. We are all excited for them to join our writers J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, and we can't think of a better way to begin this journey to Middle-earth."
The Lord of the Rings series has taken some serious negotiations with the Tolkien estate, and will explore the Second Age of Middle Earth, which covers several thousand years of history. The Second Age ends when Isildur destroys Sauron by cutting the One Ring from Sauron's finger with the shards of his father's sword, Narsil. This scene has been portrayed before in Peter Jackson's Fellowship of the Ring movie.
A lot of the stories and songs featured throughout The Lord of the Rings center on events that occured during the Second Age, including the Last Alliance of Elves and Men, the felling of the White Tree of Minas Ithil, the creation of the Ring Wraiths, and the founding of the Grey Havens by Cirdan.
I think it's safe to say that the creative team at Amazon could probably run a thousand seasons worth of episodes based off of the background material Tolkien prepared for his The Lord of the Rings books.
This is a developing story, we'll report more information as we get it!