Amazon Prime Video is a fascinating streaming service. First of all, its UX is an absolute disaster — Prime Video’s interface operates as if it’s a decade old. It’s more like the Amazon website than it is Netflix or Hulu. Just a mess.
Amazon Studios, on the other hand, is largely, and unsurprisingly, successful. They’ve backed prestige dramas such as Manchester By The Sea and have created massive hits like The Boys. They just released Coming 2 America and have the Michael B. Jordan-starring Tom Clancy thriller Without Remorse set to release later this month.
And yet, despite all this, I imagine you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who considers Prime Video one of their Top 3 favorite streaming services, and that’s likely due to their lack of a bonafide mega-hit (The Boys is getting there but still isn’t a Game of Thrones, Stranger Things level success).
That’s likely to change very soon, though, as Prime Video’s absolutely, mind-blowingly massive Lord of the Rings series is set to debut later in 2021. How massive, you ask? The first season alone cost $465 million to produce, easily making it the most expensive season of a TV series ever made. For content, the final season of Game of Thrones had a budget of around $100 million.
Amazon will spend roughly NZ$650 million — $465 million in U.S. dollars — for just the first season of the show. That’s far above previous reported estimates that pegged the fantasy drama as costing an already record-breaking $500 million for multiple seasons of the show.
“What I can tell you is Amazon is going to spend about $650 million in season one alone,” Stuart Nash, New Zealand minister for economic development and tourism, told Morning Report. “This is fantastic, it really is … this will be the largest television series ever made.”
The figures were released as part of the New Zealand government’s Official Information Act and initially reported by the New Zealand outlet Stuff. The documents also confirmed the studio’s plan to film potentially five seasons in New Zealand — as well as possible, as-yet-unannounced spinoff series. [via THR]
Here’s the official synopsis for the series, which is set thousands of years before the events of the Lord of the Rings films, via Prime Video:
“Amazon Studios’ forthcoming series brings to screens for the very first time the heroic legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history. This epic drama is set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and 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. Beginning in a time of relative peace, the series follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth. From the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains, to the majestic forests of the elf-capital of Lindon, to the breathtaking island kingdom of Númenor, to the furthest reaches of the map, these kingdoms and characters will carve out legacies that live on long after they are gone.”
At this time, the series has no official release date. As for the cast, it’s largely made up of unknown talents (which isn’t a diss, just a statement of fact): Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Maxim Baldry, Ian Blackburn, Kip Chapman, Anthony Crum, Maxine Cunliffe, Trystan Gravelle, Lenny Henry and more.