Amazon Studios Chief On Their $465 Million LOTR Series: ‘A Giant, Global Audience Needs To Show Up’

Back in April, news hit that Amazon’s Lord of the Rings series will cost $465 million just for the first season. That’s apparently on top of the $250 million that the streaming studio reportedly paid the Tolkien estate for the global rights. So, there’s a reason why Amazon’s attempt at making the next Game of Thrones has been called one of the most expensive TV series ever made.

During a panel discussion of Hollywood’s most powerful women, Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke got candid about the LOTR series’ hefty price tag, and why “the market is crazy” right now as evidenced by the $469 million that Netflix is paying Rian Johnson for two Knives Out sequels. However, she argues the price is worth it because the money that Amazon is investing now will streamline production on later seasons of the Middle-earth series. Although, Salke does concede that the whole thing requires a massive audience showing up, which is a pretty big gamble. Via The Hollywood Reporter:

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 and me, have been in bidding situations where it starts to go incredibly high. 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. 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.

Set thousands of years before the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, the Amazon series will focus on the Second Age of Middle-earth when Sauron first created the One Ring. According to the official synopsis, the series will “take viewers back to an era in which great powers were forged, kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin, unlikely heroes were tested, hope hung by the finest of threads, and the greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness.”

(Via The Hollywood Reporter)