Hoping to cash in on the success of Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings, Amazon's TV series is reportedly spending big to bring the world of J.R.R. Tolkien back to life.
Written between 1937 and 1949, The Lord of the Rings is one of the best-selling novels of all time, which in itself should be enough to lure viewers to Amazon's streaming service. Although the epic saga has been adapted for radio several times and as twice as movies, Amazon's show marks the first time that Tolkien's story has been brought to TV screens. With such a monumental undertaking needed to condense The Lord of the Rings as a series, it makes sense that Amazon is putting a lot of effort into the project.
According to Reuters, Amazon's show has a proposed a budget of $500 million across a two-season deal. Adding this to the $250 million already spent on gaining the rights to The Lord of the Rings in the first place and it means the company is putting some serious faith in this idea as the "next big thing." The site analyzed the metrics for 19 Amazon Original shows to look everything from cost to viewership and how many new subscribers it brought to Amazon Prime. For example, The Man in the High Castle cost $72 million for season 1 and brought in 1.15 million new members to give a figure of $63 per subscriber. In contrast, season 2 cost $107 million and cost the company $829 per subscriber.
With The Lord of the Rings' rumored cost, it would need to bring in nearly three times as many new subscribers than both seasons of The Man in the High Castle combined, but can it be done? In today's society of major shows like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and Westworld all dominating the small screen, something like The Lord of the Rings could certainly be one to watch. Also, with Thrones wrapping its main series in 2019 and hoping to move forward with a variety of big-budget spinoffs, it leaves a nice gap in the market for The Lord of the Rings to sneak in.
However, when considering that Jackson's original trilogy (only) cost $281 million to make (unadjusted for inflation, of course), there is no denying that these are some eye-watering statistics that Amazon is throwing around. When looking at the box office return of The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King, it is a formula that worked considering they netted a tidy $2.9 billion. This is before even discussing the Hobbit trilogy - which actually made even more - meaning that fans are more than happy to part with their cash for a fantasy adventure to Middle-earth. That being said, to cost upwards of half a billion on a TV show means Amazon will need some serious viewing figures.
Technology and the sheer scale of TV shows have advanced a lot since Jackson brought Fellowship to theaters back in 2001, so it was always expected that Amazon would be paying a hefty price for production. If an adaptation of The Man in the High Castle managed to cause such a buzz for Amazon Prime, then execs can only imagine what kind of hype The Lord of the Rings could create. A TV adaptation has been on many a wishlist for decades now, while the idea of exploring previously untold Tolkien stories means that The Lord of the Rings is surely aiming to take over TV in a big way.