After it was announced last year that Amazon was spending a fortune to bring J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous epic, “The Lord of the Rings,” to the small screen, little else has come out about the potential series. However, after a new report from The Hollywood Reporter, we are finally starting to see what this series might look like.
The report claims that Amazon spent $250 million just for the rights to make a TV series out of the franchise. And as THR reports, after you take into consideration the cost of casting, producers, visual effects, and everything else associated with bringing the fantasy epic to the small screen, Amazon could be on the hook for $1 billion or more.
The biggest contributing factor to that cost is the length of the commitment. When the streaming service purchased the rights to ‘Rings’ from the Tolkien estate, publisher HarperCollins, and New Line Cinema, they did so committing to no less than five seasons of television. Netflix and other TV makers have previously committed to two-season orders previously, but those have been mainly for shows that are more cost-effective and smaller scale.
Amazon isn’t able to take their time with the series, either. Another part of the deal is that Amazon guarantees they’ll begin production on the series within two years. So, even though two years seems like a decent runway for the streaming giant, with a production like this, and a five-year commitment, they may need every minute of time to get this series in front of cameras.
Buried in the report is that Amazon is also looking at the idea of a potential spin-off of the series. Clearly, “The Lord of the Rings” is the streaming service’s “Game of Thornes”-esque series, and they don’t want to be caught with their pants down after ‘Rings’ takes off on the small screen. They want to have ideas in place for any potential spin-offs, to help them recoup their money that much faster.
Another interesting wrinkle in the deal is with New Line, and its parent company Warner Bros. The film studio doesn’t actually own the rights to any TV adaptations of the Tolkien classic. However, it is reported that Amazon may use “material” from the films in the series. That means Amazon also had to write a check to New Line as part of that $250 million deal. While we don’t know what exactly “material” means, but with Peter Jackson’s trilogy looked at as a high-point in fantasy filmmaking, borrowing doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.
Lastly, as fans of Jackson might be wondering, the filmmaker isn’t part of the deal… yet. However, according to THR, there’s nothing stopping him from joining the series in some capacity, and his lawyer has helped the filmmaker create “a dialogue” with Amazon. So, who knows?
The more we learn about the Amazon “Lord of the Rings” TV series, the crazier it sounds. This is, by far, the largest play by the streaming service at trying to dominate the competition, with what is going to be the most expensive TV production in history. It’ll be interesting to see if the $1 billion investment pays off.