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‘Lord of the Rings’ First Season Cost Nearly 1/2 a Billion Dollars

3 Minute Read
Apr 17 2021
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Amazon Studios is not cutting a single corner on this show.

Amazon battled Netflix for the rights last in 2017 and snagged a $250 million rights deal with the Tolkien estate, New Line, and publisher Harper Collins. That price tag is tiny compared to what the estimated cost of the production will be. The negotiations have resulted in a 5 season commitment from Amazon. The initial rumors were putting it at $100-150 million budget per season with an overall pricetag of $1 billion or ~350,000,000 potatoes.

We have learned that those rumors were waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay off. The price tag on first season is…

$465,000,000 or ~162,750,000 Potatoes

$465 million. That’s $365 million more than the first season of GoT and over $150 million more than the cost of Peter Jackson’s LoTR movies combined. Amazon hasn’t commented on it, but the numbers are coming from the New Zealand government’s Official Information Act. The country’s Minister of Economic Development and Tourism confirmed the number in an interview.

“What I can tell you is Amazon is going to spend about $650 million [NZ] in season one alone. This is fantastic, it really is … this will be the largest television series ever made.”

Sorry, Game of Thrones, I know it’s your 10th anniversary and I’m gonna let you finish but…

The show is taking us to the Second Age – a time filled with bloodshed that starts with the founding of Númenor and is capped off with The War of the Last Alliance. The entire period is plagued by Sauron being Sauron. He created the Rings of Power, built Barad-dûr, and lost a significant finger during the Second Age. There’s a lot to cover, and expect multiple episodes centered around epic battles (which is likely where a lot of that money is going).

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The official synopsis…

“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. It 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.”

No title yet, so I guess we’ll go on calling it Amazon’s Lord of the Rings TV Show. The size and lack of huge names of the confirmed cast list reminds me of Game of Thrones. Casting was something GoT was very adept at – hopefully, the casting directors on this will be just as good. There’s at least one LoTR alumnus on the list – Peter Tait from LotR: The Return of the King. I’m sure there will be others, but for now Amazon is holding who is playing who close to the vest.

The first season of the show (which is slated to debut on Amazon Prime later this year – not sure if they’ll hit that target or not) is currently filming in New Zealand. If you’re hankering to watch the movies, HBOMax has both the LoTR trilogy and The Hobbit trilogy right now.

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