Amazon Studios plans to make its “Lord of the Rings” television series one of the most expensive ever-produced, costing a grand total of $465 million … and that’s just for the first season alone.
According to The Hollywood Reporter (THR), the show will cost more than the entirety of the original trilogy, far above initial estimates. To illustrate just how gargantuan of a number that is, one season of “Game of Thrones” cost $100 million to produce.
“Amazon will spend roughly NZ$650 million — $465 million in U.S. dollars — for just the first season of the show,” reported THR. “That’s far above previous reported estimates that pegged the fantasy drama as costing an already record-breaking $500 million for multiple seasons of the show.”
“The figures were released as part of the New Zealand government’s Official Information Act and initially reported by the New Zealand outlet Stuff,” continued THR. “The documents also confirmed the studio’s plan to film potentially five seasons in New Zealand — as well as possible, as-yet-unannounced spinoff series.”
Stuart Nash, New Zealand minister for economic development and tourism, told Morning Report that the show will simply be one of the most expensive ever produced.
“What I can tell you is Amazon is going to spend about $650 million (in New Zealand dollars) in season one alone,” Nash said. “This is fantastic, it really is … this will be the largest television series ever made.”
Despite the large price tag, not all of it will be going to production, considering that the rights to Tolkien’s property alone cost an estimated $250 million to acquire. The show will reportedly center on the mythical Second-Age of Middle-earth during the time of the dark lord Sauron’s conquests prior to the One Ring falling into obscurity.
“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,” says the show’s official description. “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.”
Worried fans who fear Amazon will pollute Tolkien’s world with woke social-justice messaging should rest assured that Tolkien’s estate has put highly strict limitations on what the studio can do with the product.
“The Tolkien Estate will insist that the main shape of the Second Age is not altered. Sauron invades Eriador, is forced back by a Númenorean expedition, is returns to Númenor,” Tom Shippey, a Tolkien scholar, told the German fansite Deutsche Tolkien “There he corrupts the Númenoreans and seduces them to break the ban of the Valar. All this, the course of history, must remain the same. But you can add new characters and ask a lot of questions, like: What has Sauron done in the meantime? Where was he after Morgoth was defeated? Theoretically, Amazon can answer these questions by inventing the answers, since Tolkien did not describe it. But it must not contradict anything which Tolkien did say. That’s what Amazon has to watch out for. It must be canonical, it is impossible to change the boundaries which Tolkien has created, it is necessary to remain ‘tolkienian.'”
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