With the success that CBS All Access has seen following the release of Star Trek: Discovery, streaming companies are willing to go all-in on creating similar exclusive franchises. In the case of Amazon’s recently announced Lord of the Rings series, that means throwing a potentially unprecedented amount of cash at the project.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the deal Amazon struck with J.R.R. Tolkien’s estate, publisher HarperCollins and New Line Cinema calls for five seasons of their LOTR prequel series, with the chance for a spin-off. When you factor in production budgets, casting, writers, producers, film crews, visual effects, and all the other aspects of creating such an epic show, insiders tell THR the series’ budget could hit $1 billion. That’s billion, with a B, folks.
To put that into perspective, a single episode of Game of Thrones reportedly costs $10 million. With six seasons consisting of 10 episodes and one consisting of seven, that puts the total production cost of the entire series to this point at about $67,000,000. Nothing to sneeze at, of course, but it pales in comparison to a series two seasons shorter and nearly twice as costly.
“This is a unique opportunity to tell new stories in a magical world that is a global phenomenon,” Sharon Tal Yguado, Amazon head of scripted, told THR. “As we build our diverse portfolio of programming, we are making some of our big bets on tentpole series.”
Just to be clear, by “big,” she means $1 billion dollars. With a B. They’re obviously banking on massive success for the series, with the global rights already being valued at $250 million. If that holds true, they’re already a quarter of the way to making their money back. One show to rule them all.