Before landing on The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, Prime Video passed on making their The Lord of the Rings series about young Aragorn. There had been rumors that Prime Video was developing a series about the character played by Viggo Mortensen in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings movies. Aragorn's mysterious youth as a Dunedain ranger and exiled heir to the throne of Gondor seemed to give Prime Video plenty of room to tell new stories. The Rings of Power co-showrunner J.D. Payne confirmed to Total Film magazine that Prime Video passed on the Aragornshow. It also declined to pursue many other Middle-earth television pitches.
"When we first went up for the job, we were told there were literally dozens of other people who were also throwing their hat in the ring, and everyone was coming in with different things," Payne says. "Amazon bought the rights to the trilogy, the appendices, and The Hobbit. They said the field was wide open – any story within that material, you could tell. So you had people pitching the Young Aragon show, or the Gimli spinoff, or other kinds of things."
Payne's quote is interesting also because it implies that Prime Video has more of J.R.R. Tolkien's writings to work with than previously believed. Previous reports suggested that Prime Video built The Rings of Power with the rights to The Silmarillion's appendices and possibly a few passages from The Silmarillion itself. That they acquired rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy is new information. Given Warner Bros.'s claim to the same material, perhaps it is a matter of some contention.
Payne continued, describing how he and fellow showrunner Patrick McKay came up with the pitch for what would eventually become The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. "They wanted to make something that felt worthy of Tolkien," he told the magazine. "And as we really thought about it, and culled through the material, and saw all different kind of stories – that story of the Second Age, so the Dark Lord Sauron, and the Fall of Númenor, and the fight against Sauron at Mount Doom. That arc of the major Second Age events felt like such an amazing, untold story."
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is set thousands of years before The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, during Middle-earth's Second Age. It begins during a time of relative peace following the defeat of Morgoth, Sauron's master. The series chronicles the lives and adventures of its ensemble cast and promises to visit the Misty Mountains, the forest elf-capital of Lindon, and the shores of the island kingdom of Númenor.