Prime Video is forging a new path for “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.”
The big-budget series debuted its first two episodes September 2, with an Amazon source telling The Hollywood Reporter that reviews are being held for 72 hours to weed out trolls — and not of the hulking J.R.R. Tolkien variety, though possibly as witless. (Racists have criticized the series’ diverse casting.) “The Rings of Power” currently has a 34 percent average audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, compared to an 87 percent critics score. As of print, there are zero reviews for the series on Prime Video with users unable to post.
A representative for Prime Video had not returned IndieWire’s request for comment at publish time.
Recently, Disney+ Marvel series “She-Hulk” was confirmed to be “review bombed” on Rotten Tomatoes with an 88 percent critics score distinctly different than the initial 36 percent audience score. The audience score later rose to 50 percent. Review bombing is birthed after a group collaborates to upload negative reviews for its “perceived cultural or political issues rather than its actual quality,” as THR defined the term.
Current Rotten Tomatoes reviews range from the racially-blind series being slammed for mirroring “current politics” in a story that was “already written and should not have been sullied” to calling it “boring.” One review reads, “Reflecting world diversity in Middle Earth is an odd goal, albeit good for marketing maybe, but it was clearly more important than making a functional TV series.”
Co-created by showrunners JD Payne and Patrick McKay and already renewed for five seasons, the cast behind “Rings of Power” anticipated racist backlash.
When the studio originally released a photo of its multicultural cast, Amazon was immediately met with vitriolic online trolling, as fans took to social media to slam certain roles based on race and gender.
“Obviously there was going to be push and backlash,” Tolkien scholar Mariana Rios Maldonado told Vanity Fair, “but the question is, from whom? Who are these people that feel so threatened or disgusted by the idea that an elf is Black or Latino or Asian?”
Series executive producer Lindsey Weber added, “It felt only natural to us that an adaptation of Tolkien’s work would reflect what the world actually looks like. Tolkien is for everyone. His stories are about his fictional races doing their best work when they leave the isolation of their own cultures and come together.”
IMDb, which Amazon also owns, has not suspended audience ratings for “Rings of Power.” Currently, the series stands at a 6.1 average score out of 10.
IndieWire’s Ben Travers gave the series a B rating, writing, “‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’ flutters to life in bursts, offering reason enough to believe, with time to play out its own story and optimize its own strengths, the Prime Video creation could leave its own gleaming mark on J.R.R. Tolkien’s still-expanding universe.”