SINGAPORE - With a rumoured cost of more than US$1 billion (S$1.4 billion) for a five-season production commitment, The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power is certainly ruling them all, having earned the title of the most expensive series ever made.
Just as the film trilogies of The Lord Of The Rings (2001 to 2003) and The Hobbit (2012 to 2014) "set a high bar" for the upcoming highly anticipated fantasy series, also adapted from the books of J.R.R. Tolkien, in the way they "treated Tolkien's themes really seriously and held them sacrosanct", showrunner and executive producer Patrick McKay hopes the new creation will do the same.
The first season of The Rings Of Power premieres on Amazon Prime Video on Sept 2, with new episodes available weekly.
All eight episodes were shot in New Zealand, where the films were also produced.
Beginning in a time of relative peace, The Rings Of Power follows an ensemble cast of characters as they confront the re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth.
It is set in the Second Age, the time when the powerful spirit Sauron in secret created the rings that would cause the crisis 3,000 years later in the Third Age, a period covered in The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit films.
Speaking to reporters at an online press conference, executive producer Lindsey Weber says the show features a large ensemble cast and a visual design that looked to the novels, rather than the previous six Peter Jackson-directed films, for inspiration.
"The Second Age is so much its own thing," she says, adding that the races of men, dwarves, elves and hobbits had their own culture and environment.
"What would each world look like? Each one has its own shapes and colour palette and each one of our department heads had to try and achieve something that is uniquely Second Age, and Middle-earth."
McKay promises the show will tap Tolkien's "vast map" to feature lands only glimpsed at, or never shown, in the films - from the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains to the majestic forests of Lindon to the breathtaking island kingdom of Numenor.
"We're going to coastlines, and going into the ocean and the far south. That's just in the first two episodes. Amazon felt that the story had to be told in a way that honours the imagination of Tolkien and we are humbled by the resources they gave us to do so," he says.
And as for Middle-earth humans during the Second Age, life could be pretty miserable, as Tolkien "left a trail of breadcrumbs" about their condition, adds McKay.
Compared with the hobbits and humans, who in the Second Age are yet to achieve their potential, elves and dwarves are at the peak of their power.
"For mortal men on Middle-earth, it's the dark years because, as Tolkien says, they are at a disadvantage. They are not in the grand and beautiful kingdoms, the way that elves and dwarves are," says McKay.
He adds that the show will create a more well-rounded image of Second Age humans than the one depicted in the films, which mention only that men of that time were "fragile and loved power" and therefore were easily tempted by Sauron's gift of the cursed rings, which enslaved them.
Without explicitly giving them names, "Tolkien suggested characters in lots of places", says McKay, including human ones.
With writing partner John D. Payne, he says he built on Tolkien's clues and created Halbrand, a man from the Southlands (played by Australian actor Charlie Vickers) whose journey becomes entangled with that of the high-born elf Galadriel (Welsh actress Morfydd Clark).
McKay hints that Halbrand, as befits a man who has had a hard life, is a "reluctant hero" and he believes that viewers are "going to be excited to follow on his journey".
The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power premieres on Amazon Prime Video on Sept 2.