The original content arms race between streaming services continues as reports indicate that Amazon and Warner Bros. are in talks with the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien for the rights to a Lord of the Rings television series, but is it worth the reported price tag of $200-250 million?
With Game of Thrones coming to an end, Middle-Earth has become the most highly coveted fictional setting to create a series in, perhaps only rivaled by the Star Wars universe. These fully fleshed-out worlds come ready to roll with their own lore, history, and fan bases, but apparently cost an exorbitant amount to license.
According to Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva, a show of this magnitude would likely have a budget of $100-150 million each season, and that doesn’t even include development, talent and production. The final six episodes of Game of Thrones season 8 cost a whopping $15 million apiece, and Netflix paid $10 million an episode for The Crown and The Get Down, so Andreeva’s estimate may be a little low if the seasons have more than ten episodes.
When you consider the upfront cost for the rights to the LOTR is equivalent to two seasons of the most expensive show on TV (GoT), it does seem a little ridiculous. On the flip side, Middle-Earth is one of the few ready-made settings to create the next Game of Thrones, which Jeff Bezos desperately wants.
Despite the high price, Deadline says the TV series rights “do not encompass all characters and are limited,” which may explain why HBO passed on the bidding war. Andreeva reports that Netflix and Amazon are still in the running.