The Golden Age of TV we’ve been living through for close to two decades has seen the biggest and most popular shows on the planet continue to get more and more expensive to produce, but Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings has blown all of the competition out of the water and into the stratosphere.
Game of Thrones and The Mandalorian were estimated to cost roughly $15 million per episode, while the Marvel Cinematic Universe raised the bar even higher after it was revealed that the Disney Plus exclusives could run as much $25 million for less than an hour of television. However, that’s a drop in the ocean compared to Amazon’s adaptation of the J.R.R. Tolkien mythology, with the first season alone setting the streamer back $465 million.
When you consider that the company made a five-season commitment after they acquired the rights in the first place, those billion-dollar estimates might have been underselling it a little bit. In a new interview, Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke attempted to justify the exorbitant costs that come attached to The Lord of the Rings and here’s how she explained why they’re spending so much:
“The market is crazy, as you saw with the Knives Out deal. This is a full season of a huge world-building show. 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 [Bajaria of Netflix] 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. A giant, global audience needs to show up to it as appointment television, and we are pretty confident that that will happen.”
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The major Hollywood studios have been pinching their pennies and selling off a whole host of projects due to the financial implications associated with the Coronavirus pandemic, but streaming services appear to be more flush with cash than ever. As well as Netflix’s bumper deal for Knives Out sequels and Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings, AppleTV+ are spending $200 million on Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio’s Killers of the Flower Moon, while Paramount+ is being aggressive in its approach to shelling out top dollar on original movies and TV shows, so let’s just hope that the bubble doesn’t burst, or it’ll be bad news for the entire industry.