China hopes Amazon’s Lord of the Rings will fill the void left by Game of Thrones
HBO blockbuster’s disappointing finale leaves Chinese fantasy fans eager for more
Like the rest of the world, China is still reeling from the disappointing conclusion to HBO’s Game of Thrones. But now fans of fantasy dramas can finally look forward to what they hope will be a worthy successor to one of the biggest blockbuster series of our time.
Over the weekend, Amazon released a trailer teasing the creative staff behind their upcoming Lord of the Ring series. The team includes industry heavy hitters who have worked on some of the biggest hits on TV and film, including Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, Toy Story 4, Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom and more.
Amazon’s brand-new series, which doesn’t have a release date yet, will be set in Middle-earth’s Second Age. The period precedes the Third Age depicted in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit. The news has set LOTR fans on fire, including those in China, where the original films hold a special place in the hearts of fans.
“I’ve watched the movies over 10 times and read the original books four to five times,” one ecstatic Weibo user commented. “I memorized the Hobbits’ family tree, drew a map of Middle-earth, learned a number of Sindarin and Quenya phrases, learned to write the Ring Verse in Black Speech, and studied Annals of the Kings and Rulers and The Silmarillion. I should probably get a tattoo of White Tree of Gondor on my back next.”
“Lord of the Rings is a story that can surpass Game of Thrones,” said another commenter. “Looking forward to it.”
“Let’s see if this could become the next Game of Thrones (the first seven seasons),” echoed another person.
The first LOTR film arrived in China nearly two decades ago. Fellowship of the Ring opened in April 2002, a few months after the country joined the World Trade Organization, which required the country to increase its film import quote. That year, China increased its quota from 10 to 20 films per year (it’s now at 38).
That first film of the trilogy and the final one, The Return of the King in 2004, became the country’s top-grossing foreign films in their respective years, according to China Film Insider.
(The Two Towers missed the mark in 2003 partly because of the country's deadly pneumonia-like SARS outbreak. The epidemic forced officials to shut down cinemas and other entertainment venues, cutting the number of theatrical showings.)
Today, the trilogy still boasts an exceptional 9/10 rating on Douban, China’s largest film-rating site.
In a nod to the importance of the Chinese market, Amazon has previously said it’s partnering with the Hong Kong-based Leyou Technologies to create a Lord of the Rings game for PC and consoles. The free-to-play massively multiplayer online (MMO) title will be distributed worldwide by Amazon, with the exception of China, where Leyou will handle distribution.
While Amazon has yet to announce the cast of the upcoming drama series, there’s at least one original actor who’s already bailed on the Fellowship. Orlando Bloom suggested to The Hollywood Reporter that he’s probably too old to reprise the role of Legolas.
But some fans in China, where Bloom has more than 2.3 million followers on his verified Weibo account, think there’s still a place for the elf prince.
One Weibo user proposed that Bloom could take the role of Thranduil, the father of Legolas: “He can play the elf-king.”
Others, though, lamented that Bloom is only human.
“After all, no one can be immortal like elves,” said one person.