Many Prime Video subscribers probably did a spit take when they saw the budget for Amazon’s upcoming Lord of the Rings series. Last month, word broke that the series would cost $465 million just to produce its first season, easily making it the most expensive TV show ever made. But in a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke explained the logic behind the series’ hefty pricetag.
When asked about The Lord of the Rings, Salke simply pointed to recent trends in the streaming market.
“The market is crazy, as you saw with the Knives Out deal [Netflix paid $469 million for two sequels],” said Salke. “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.”
Technically, Netflix only spent $469 million on the rights to Rian Johnson’s Knives Out sequels, not their actual production budgets, which are expected to be at least $40 million apiece like the original film. Meanwhile, Amazon previously spent $250 million on the rights to J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy series in 2017, long before they figured out how much the TV show itself would actually cost. Regardless, Salke and her fellow executives are hoping The Lord of the Rings’ rabid fanbase justifies their purchase.
“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,” continued Salke. “As for how many people need to watch Lord of the Rings? A lot. (Laughs) A giant, global audience needs to show up to it as appointment television, and we are pretty confident that that will happen.”
The Lord of the Rings is now filming in New Zealand and will reportedly hit Amazon Prime later this year.
What do you make of Salke’s reasoning for spending so much on the series? Let us know in the comment section below!
Recommended Reading: J.R.R. Tolkien 4-Book Boxed Set: The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings
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