An epic battle of fantasy sagas is brewing on the horizon. Lovers of the genre have been long awaiting the Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings spin-offs. The time has finally come and the stage is set – coincidentally, around the same time. As such both the shows are vying to be crowned the best fantasy series of 2022.
Starting from 21 August, for the next ten weeks every Sunday, we will be receiving a new episode of House of the Dragon; whose finale will be aired on October 23. While Amazon's The Rings of Power – a prequel of JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings – will premiere on 2 September, this 8-episode long series will also reach its crescendo in the same week as House of the Dragon.
Money has been generously poured into the production and marketing for both properties creating a huge level of hype. The Rings of Power is the most costly TV production ever made, Amazon reportedly spent $60 million per episode. In comparison, House of the Dragon' estimated cost of $20 million per episode seems hamstrung.
Money is of no consequence to Amazon and they have no qualms in sinking as much money as they can into productions to net itself prestige shows in the service of receiving critical acclaim and award nominations. Amazon has long been trying to establish the next great franchise and the reason why is very clear, they want to cement themselves as a brand that puts out high quality content like their rivals HBO and Disney+.
The story of The Rings of Power is based on the 'second age of middle earth' far removed from the 'third age' where The Hobbit and Lords of the Rings films take place. However, JRR Tolkien only wrote around 150 pages in his novels about the second age. So, Amazon in fact came up with their own storyline based on the various appendices scattered throughout the books of the original trilogy. On the other hand, House of the Dragon is based on Martin's 2018 novel Fire and Blood – set two centuries prior to the events in Game of Thrones.
It is only natural to pit the two shows against each other and make comparisons. Trailers and teasers have been out for some time now. Fan theories and plot predictions are being made in great detail on various pop culture Youtube channels. In the eyes of the audiences this clearly isn't an apples to oranges comparison.
According to The Wrap, which tracks viewers' interests in TV shows, reportedly 20% more people are interested in House of the Dragon than Rings of Power.
Just like all other fanboys, I wonder if the coincidence of running both shows was a premeditated action after all. It appears to be a deliberate head-to-head. I presume that the one-on-one battle is ultimately beneficial for both shows. There will be debates – comparisons will be made, fierce exchanges will take place among the core fanbases. That's why I love the 'coincidence' of airing both the shows over the same period of time.
As the genre is the same – medieval fantasy – it is very likely that either people are watching both shows at the same time, or have interest in neither. I cannot think of many people who would rather watch or prefer one (at least in the beginning). I for one will definitely watch both.
Lastly, let's discuss the audience's justified apprehension about both shows: GOT ended disastrously. The fear of another bungled adaptation looms in the back of all fans' heads. Would it be as well executed as the beginning seasons of Game of Thrones? We can only wait and watch. Hopefully the showrunners have learned from the mistakes of Weiss and Benioff. Otherwise this could be a death knell for the 'Song of Ice and Fire' IP on the small screen.
On the flipside, the Rings of Power storyline is not actually adapting a plot that was penned by Tolkein. Those who are deep into the weeds of the lore of Middle-Earth, are already disappointed by the trailers and the amount of creative liberty they have taken with the chain of events in the 'second age', they have already had a red carpet premiere in LA and all members of the press who attended were embargoed and cannot release their reviews until a designated date, which doesn't indicate praise in the offing.