We've known for quite some time that amazon's Lord of the Rings series was going to be a massive undertaking. The show is filming in New Zealand, there are likely to be tons of expensive special effects / costumes / props, and while there are no massive names among the cast, there are over a dozen main cast members who'll be shooting a reported 20 episodes for the streamer, just in Season 1. All of those things add up, and even though we'd heard that it was going to be an expensive show before, now it appears that "expensive" actually means gobsmackingly huge.
After enduring a number of delays, the Lord of the Rings series is set to debut sometime later this year, but a new report from Morning Report (via Radio New Zealand) is saying that the amount of money spent to bring just Season 1 to fans is pretty insane. Apparently, the Minister for Economic Development and Tourism, Stuart Nash, confirmed that Amazon will be eligible for a government rebate of over $160 million for filming in the lush country, but only because the company will be spending, roughly, a whopping $650 million on production for the first Lord of the Rings season.
Let me write that again for you, because I'm sure you blacked out a for at least a few seconds and are currently having trouble seeing. Season 1 of Lord of the Rings is said to have cost $650 million to make. Now, yes, that is in New Zealand dollars, but the total in U.S. monies would still come to around $450 million, and, well, that's better, but not by much.
I don't know about you, but no matter how many times I read that figure and try to have it soak into my eyeballs and make sense to my brain, it just doesn't quite make it. Game of Thrones cost about a reported $90 million in its final season, and that was for six episodes. But, even if we up that number to a 20 episode season, it still only comes out to $300 million, so Amazon is really going to be doing the most when it comes to its Lord of the Rings series.
What's especially startling is that this amount of cash is reportedly being spent on just the first season. Previously, what we'd heard was that Amazon was set to spend around $500 million for the series overall. It was said that that price would be spread out over five seasons and a potential spinoff, with about $125 million going to production and marketing for each of the first two seasons. This was already three times the budget of another Amazon original, The Man in the High Castle, which ran for four seasons and was seen as a success by the streamer.
This does beg the question, if that original report about how much would be spent on Lord of the Rings was even close to being correct, how did such a massive jump in cost happen? I'm sure that having to institute new filming practices during an international health crisis has caused production costs to go up, but this seems like a lot even considering that situation. Though, if a recent report from one of the actors is any indication, some of the odd things they seem to be spending money on might be a factor.
At any rate, it would seem that the streamer has very high hopes for Lord of the Rings and its potential to bring in new subscribers. When it was first rumored that a show was being planned, many wondered why such a series was being done, when the films are still so beloved and not even that old. But, this new series will be a prequel instead of a reboot, and is set to take place thousands of years before the events of both The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings movies while also showing fans a never before seen kingdom.
Hopefully, all of the money spent will really pay off in terms of a well-developed story, amazing effects and perfectly cast characters. Obviously, Amazon wants Lord of the Rings to succeed, but so do millions of fans around the world.
Lord of the Rings should be ready at some point later in 2021, but until then, be sure to take a look at the winter / spring TV premieres!