Earlier this week, Amazon Studios closed a deal with the estate of author J.R.R. Tolkien to produce a TV series based on his enormously popular The Lord of the Rings mythos. Tolkien's world of Middle-earth has already produced six blockbuster films — three based on the Rings series proper and three more based on The Hobbit — and is beloved around the world, so another adaptation seems like a safe bet. Safe or not, though, this bet is said to be massive.
According to a new piece in The Hollywood Reporter, Amazon's deal for the series is expected to be for as many as five seasons, with a potential spinoff thrown in. Getting the rights alone reportedly cost the company $250 million, which means that when you add in all that associated production costs the eventual budget for the project could be as much as $1 billion. Yes, with a "B."
Why such a hefty investment? Well, because streaming is becoming a bigger business every day. Netflix, of course, has its own increasingly massive fleet of shows, and Star Trek: Discovery just gave CBS All Access its biggest subscriber increase ever. Amazon, which has its own crop of successful streaming series already, is not only trying to keep up, but trying to move ahead of the pack.
"The shift is the speed of things," ICM managing director Chris Silbermann told THR. "Now there is so much pressure to move the needle quickly, so this rush to big shows, big franchises, big budgets, big talent is all about making noise and making it fast."
The new Rings series, which will reportedly be a prequel set before The Fellowship of the Ring, has no current names attached in terms of acting, writing, or directing, but it's already creating buzz. We still don't know how soon we'll see the series, but Amazon is making a big impact on the streaming world right now, and that means that whatever comes next could be even bigger.