Is the Lord of the Rings TV show too expensive to succeed?
By Joe Harker
The Lord of the Rings series of films are iconic parts of cinematic history. They made massive amounts of money and raked in awards, so naturally everyone would like to be part of a project that was anywhere near as successful.
Amazon is funding a TV series that aims to bring JRR Tolkien's work to the small screen, reportedly paying $250 million for the rights and setting aside the better part of $1 billion for the production budget and marketing. Yikes.
That kind of money would make Lord of the Rings the most expensive TV series of all time, which may be expected for such a big project. You've got to spend money to make money and Amazon is clearly hoping for the sort of series that rakes in massive profits of several billion. Practically, it has to, in order to justify the huge expense involved with the project. Amazon isn't going to go bust, but the huge investment in Lord of the Rings may have created a situation where the series has to be a mega hit to top all other shows to be considered a success. It not only has to succeed, but it has to outdo every other TV series ever made in terms of acclaim and profit.
Amazon invested heavily in Lord of the Rings hoping to secure the next Game of Thrones, the George RR Martin fantasy series adapted by HBO into a hugely popular show. This is Amazon's chance to blow rivals like Netflix out of the water with a big budget series that has millions around the world watching. The deal to secure the rights ties them down to a five-season commitment, meaning it's going to be making episodes for quite a while.
However, there are some problems. The films made by Peter Jackson are so iconic that there may be no topping them and the TV series will instead be focusing on previously untold stories from before The Fellowship of the Ring. If people were tuning in to see a different version of Frodo Baggins' quest they may be disappointed.
Forbes calls Amazon's decision to put $1 billion into Lord of the Rings "absolutely insane". By avoiding the material already covered by the Peter Jackson films there may not be five seasons worth of content to adapt without stretching things out. The name of the franchise will bring in viewers but Amazon might have a huge job on their hands to keep them interested for several years.