Lord of the Rings set to become the most expensive TV show of all time

Amazon studios reportedly bought the rights to Tolkien's novels for $250 million

Jack Shepherd
Wednesday 15 November 2017 16:23
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The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings

Fans of J.R.R Tolkien’s fantasy epic The Lord of the Rings are both excited and terrified about Amazon’s upcoming TV series.

While the studio has revealed the series will focus on new storylines that precede The Fellowship of the Ring — with a potential spin-off also coming — little else is known.

However, an article by trade publication The Hollywood Reporter may reveal some more information, including how much the series will cost Amazon.

First off, purchasing the global rights to The Lord of the Rings — working with Tolkien Estate and Trust, HarperCollins and New Line — has reportedly cost $250 million.

That’s just the rights. The report adds that Amazon's megadeal is believed to run for five seasons, plus a potential spin-off. When you factor production budget, casting, writers, producers, visual effects, plus everything else, the series will likely cost upwards of $1 billion.

That price tag would easily make The Lord of the Rings the most expensive show of all time, usurping Netflix’s The Crown which has a budget of $130 million per season.

With a price tag of $1 billion, that would also put the series way above the budget of the movies: all three of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films cost $281 million, before advertising. They went on to make $2.917 billion worldwide. The budget for the three Hobbit movies was considerably more, standing at $675 million and making $2.932 billion. (These numbers are unadjusted for inflation.)

The news of a Lord of the Rings series came as a surprise to many. The Tolkien estate had a fraught relationship with New Line following a legal battle in 2012. The author’s heirs filed a lawsuit against the filmmakers after characters from the series appeared on slot machines and other games. An undisclosed settlement was met out of court.

Tolkien’s son, Christopher, has also been a vocal critic of the filmed adaptations, at one stage saying: "They gutted the book, making an action film for 15 to 25-year-olds.” Christopher resigned from the Tolkien estate on the 31 August earlier this year, only weeks before the Amazon deal was made official.

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