Last month, it was revealed that the first season of Amazon’s highly-anticipated fantasy series Lord of the Rings has cost the streaming service roughly NZ$650 million – which translates to $465 million in U.S. dollars, and while this may seem a little excessive, an Amazon executive has addressed the reported budget.
“The market is crazy, as you saw with the Knives Out deal [Netflix paid $469 million for two sequels]. This is a full season of a huge world-building show,” said Amazon executive Jennifer Salke in a discussion during a recent Hollywood Reporter roundtable. “The number is a sexy headline or a crazy headline that’s fun to click on, but that is really building the infrastructure of what will sustain the whole series. But it is a crazy world and various people on this Zoom, mostly Bela and me, have been in bidding situations where it starts to go incredibly high. There’s a lot of wooing and we have to make decisions on where we want to stretch and where we want to draw the line. As for how many people need to watch Lord of the Rings? A lot (Laughs). A giant, global audience needs to show up to it as appointment television, and we are pretty confident that that will happen.”
While we will have to wait and see if the nearly half a billion U.S. dollars is justified and well spent when the first season is released, Amazon has actually spent much more of the property as they have already put around $250 million forward just to pick up the rights to J.R.R. Tolkien’s book series.
Amazon’s Lord of the Rings is set to be directed by Charlotte Brändström (The Witcher, Jupiter’s Legacy) who will helm two episodes, J.A. Bayona (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) who will direct the first two episodes and British Chinese director Wayne Che Yip who will helm four episodes while JD Payne and Patrick McKay will serve as showrunners.
Amazon Studios’ forthcoming series brings to screens for the very first time the heroic legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history. This epic drama is set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and will take viewers back to an era in which great powers were forged, kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin, unlikely heroes were tested, hope hung by the finest of threads, and the greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness. Beginning in a time of relative peace, the series follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth. From the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains, to the majestic forests of the elf-capital of Lindon, to the breathtaking island kingdom of Númenor, to the furthest reaches of the map, these kingdoms and characters will carve out legacies that live on long after they are gone.
Lord of the Rings will star Robert Aramayo, Owain Arthur, Nazanin Boniadi, Morfydd Clark, Ismael Cruz Córdova, Ema Horvath, Markella Kavenagh, Joseph Mawle, Tyroe Muhafidin, Sophia Nomvete, Megan Richards, Dylan Smith, Charlie Vickers, Daniel Weyman, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Maxim Baldry, Ian Blackburn, Kip Chapman, Anthony Crum, Maxine Cunliffe, Trystan Gravelle, Lenny Henry, Thusitha Jayasundera, Fabian McCallum, Simon Merrells, Geoff Morrell, Peter Mullan, Lloyd Owen, Augustus Prew, Peter Tait, Alex Tarrant, Leon Wadham, Benjamin Walker and Sara Zwangobani.