This will be the biggest television series ever made. The highly anticipated series will cost far more than earlier record-breaking valuations.
Amazon Studios’ The Lord of the Rings TV show is going to cost a lot of money.
The Hollywood Reporter has established that Amazon will spend about NZ$650 million – $465 million in U.S. dollars – for just one season.
That’s far above previously reported estimations that said the fantasy drama will cost as much as record-breaking $500 million for multiple seasons of the show.
“What I can tell you is Amazon is going to spend about $650 million in season one alone,” Stuart Nash, New Zealand Minister for Economic Development and Tourism, told Morning Report. “This is fantastic, it really is … this will be the largest television series ever made.”
The numbers were released as part of the New Zealand government’s Official Information Act and originally reported by the New Zealand outlet Stuff. The reports also confirmed the studio’s plan is to record potentially 5 seasons of the show in New Zealand – as well as possible, as-yet-revealed spinoff series.
By contrast, HBO’s Game of Thrones costs about $100 million to produce per season, with its per-episode cost beginning at around $6 million for season one and finally rising to around $15 million per episode in the eighth season.
It’s worth pointing out that the budget for the following seasons of LOTR could be far less than the season one number. There are significant start-up costs when creating a new fantasy world – such as sets, costumes, and props – that will likely be used throughout the series.
Amazon’s spending will trigger a tax rebate of NZ$160 million ($114 million U.S). This is slightly controversial in New Zealand as the government could end up on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars to help support Amazon’s elves-and-hobbits drama series. Stuff announced that the country’s treasury has named the show a “significant fiscal risk” given there is no capped upside to how much Amazon – and therefore the government – might pay. But others point out that the increase in local spending by the production plus the potential tourism rush from Lord of the Rings fans far exceeds the taxpayer-funded kickbacks.
Amazon got up the rights to J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved Middle Earth franchise in 2017, and early on it was decided the show could end up ultimately becoming the world’s first TV show to cost $1 billion after factoring in the rights deal, production, and marketing for many seasons.
The Lord of the Rings “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, 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. 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.”
The show’s huge cast includes Robert Aramayo (Game of Thrones), Owain Arthur (Kingdom), Nazanin Boniadi (Counterpart), Tom Budge (The Pacific), Ismael Cruz Cordova (The Catch), Ismael Cruz Cordova (Ray Donovan), Joseph Mawle (Game of Thrones) and many others. J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay (Star Trek 4) serve as showrunners on the upcoming series.
The show is currently in production for a planned air date later this year.