Following the announcement in November that a Lord of the Rings TV show was in development, some huge numbers have been thrown around. Amazon reportedly paid a massive $250 million just for the TV rights to JRR Tolkien’s classic books, and last month it was reported that the company could spend up to $500 million for the first two seasons. A new story in The Hollywood Reporter has now put the total price as high as $1 billion.
According to THR, the huge price tag is due to the fact that Amazon is required to make five seasons of the show. It is very unusual for a series of this scale and cost to have an upfront commitment of this size, but these were the terms of the deal with the Tolkien Estate and publishers HarperColllins. In addition, Amazon must have the first season in production within two years.
New Line Cinema, who produced Peter Jackson’s hugely successful Lord of the Rings movies, do do not own any of the TV rights to Tolkien’s work, so the show could technically stand apart from the films. However, New Line were included in the talks, and THR reveals that Jackson has already started “a dialogue” with Amazon, and that the studio “may use material from the films.” Another intriguing aspect of the deal is that it also includes the rights to make “a potential spinoff,” indicating that, if successful, we’ll be watching a lot of Tolkien on our screens for many years to come.
Jackson’s first Lord of the Rings trilogy collectively made more than $2.9 billion, with the final instalment, 2003’s The Return of the King, making more than $1 billion alone. It won 11 Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director. Jackson followed this with three Hobbit films, which also made $2.9 billion worldwide.