It’s a Clash Of Prequels this week. As this week shall see two major franchises colliding with each other: Game Of Thrones (GOT) and Lord Of The Rings (LOTR). Both franchises have an enormous fanbase and cult following and are now returning with their own prequels. GOT with House Of The Dragon (HOTD) on Disney+, and Lord Of The Rings (LOTR) with Rings Of Power (ROP) on Amazon Prime. Who will emerge victorious in this clash? Let’s analyze.
Since its debut on 21st August 2022, HOTD has already released two of its episodes to date. The episodes of HOTD release every Sunday at 9 pm ET. Both the episodes received rave reviews from the critics as well as the audiences. ROP also debuts on Thursday, September 1 at 9 pm ET with the first two episodes. The early screenings of the two episodes have also received positive responses from the audiences and critics who have watched them.
It is said that in a series, audiences need at least two episodes to get a hold of the storyline and the world that the series is aiming to establish. Audiences are already familiar with the world of Westeros (GOT) and Middle Earth (LOTR), thanks to the original franchises. While LOTR was a series of 6 (each approx. 3 hr long) movies, there GOT was a series of 73 episodes across 8 seasons (each approx. 45 mins long) HBO tv show.
Both prequels deal with enormous fantasy worlds, rich with amazing characters. Both franchises had a number of characters with complex story arcs that got established as the series progressed. They each have amazing fantasy elements and characters. LOTR had Orcs, Dwarfs, Elves, Hobbits, Wizards, and Flying Eagles, whereas, GOT had Kings, Queens, Politics, and Flying Dragons.
HOTD, set 172 years before GOT, is the story of Targaryens, their rise to power and their doom. The series shall center on the civil war that erupts as members of the Targaryen family play politics to inherit the throne. Thi self-annihilating conflict, known as the “Dance of the Dragons”, will drive dragons to near-extinction and weaken the house itself. This prequel allows insight into the rise and fall of one of Westeros’ most prominent families while offering a look at how an earlier critical throne game played out.
ROP, deals with elaborating on the opening prologue of The Fellowship of the Ring i.e. the creation of the rings of power and Sauron’s One Ring. At the beginning of the series, Middle-earth is firmly entrenched peacefully in its Second Age, after an alliance of men and elves defeat Morgoth, the first big bad of Tolkien’s mythology. The series shall deal with how another such alliance must rise up to fight Morgoth’s apprentice, Sauron. It will also highlight various kingdoms at the height of their power, such as the Dwarf kingdom of Khazad-dûm, and the human kingdom of Númenor.
HOTD draws from George R. R. Martin’s 2018 novel, Fire & Blood, which serves as a pseudo-textbook of Targaryen family history. The author himself is heavily involved with the series. He thus regularly is giving his valuable input to the showrunners Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik. The book mainly focuses on just one house, and with the world of Westeros and Essos firmly established with the long run of GOT, the show has added advantage of proceeding much more smoothly.
However, ROP is slightly more complicated in its adaptation journey. However, since the books are very old and its author – J. R. R.Tolkien is no longer with us, the series is left to the interpretations of show makers. As Per a Vanity Fair report, the Amazon series only has the rights to use The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King, the appendices, and The Hobbit. All of these stories critically take place during the Third Age. But, many of the major events of ROP deal with the Second Age. The Second age events are covered in supplemental Tolkien materials like The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, The History of Middle-earth, and other sources that the series won’t have access to. The co-showrunner Patrick McKay has assured that they have everything that they need on the Second Age from the books that they have access to.
Variety reports that the overall production budget of the first season of HOTD was nearly $200 million, while the marketing budget according to Deadline Hollywood was in excess of $100 million, comparable to the marketing budget for a tentpole theatrical film. The first season of GOT shall have a total of Nine episodes. Recently the show has been renewed for a second season.
However, ROP has a reported price tag of $715 million, making it one of the most expensive shows ever made—and it certainly looks it. It’s one of the most visually astonishing television series ever put to screen. The first season shall have a total of eight episodes. Prime Video gave the series a multi-season commitment, believed to be for five seasons, as part of the initial deal with the Tolkien Estate. However, the streaming service still has to give a formal greenlight to future seasons before work could begin on them.
Real fandom finds happiness in every franchise that they are presented with. Both the prequels are rich in their own ways. Where HOTD sounds more interesting, ROP is more fun. The varied, colorful sceneries of ROP are a welcome and stark contrast to the slightly drab visuals of HOTD. HOTD deals with adult themes and doesn’t shy away from having adult scenes in it. ROP, however, is based on a much more family-friendly franchise that is loved by children and adults alike.
ROP is also isn’t as serious in tone as HOTD is. However, HOTD gets an upper hand with the fact that it’s playing off of an established playbook, coached by its mastermind. And in the case of ROP, a lot is pure invention, making for a high-risk, high-reward situation. However, in the right hands, ROP can surely rise shoulder-to-shoulder with HOTD. In the time, let’s just be thankful to live in such a golden age, and just enjoy the ride.