Amazon’s Lord Of The Rings to cost more than any television show in history.
Hollywood is famous for using superlatives like “the best” and “the priciest” and “biggest ever” in its promos for movies and television productions. Invariably, these boasts come with plenty of exclamation points at the end of the copy, as if to reinforce and practically shriek the proclamation in ads online, in newspapers and teaser clips aired on TV and in movie theatres.
If only it always worked out the way these boasts promise. Too often, in spite of massive budgets and lots of promotions, the productions that follow fall far short of the quality promised by that advance P.R.
Let’s hope that is not the case with Amazon Prime’s premier season one production of “Lord Of The Rings.”
The show, which is filming in New Zealand, is costing, according to local officials, more than any television show in history, budgeted at $465 million (USD) for the first season’s episodes alone.
Other shows, including HBO’s “Game Of Thrones,” topped out at approximately $100 million (USD) per season. (No word yet on when LOTR will begin to air). However, shooting is now underway around New Zealand.
Stuart Nash, the minister for economic development and tourism in New Zealand, was palpably excited when interviewed on a morning talk show recently. He said, “This is fantastic… it really is. This will be the largest TV series ever made.”
Subscription-based streaming services like Amazon and Netflix have altered the television landscape forever. These services pour money into productions that will appeal to audiences, and choosing to film “Lord of the Rings” was, truthfully, rather a “no brainer,” considering how successful and lucrative the film series has been.
And while filming in New Zealand is pouring millions into the country’s economy, officials sweetened the pot by giving Amazon millions in tax breaks and other enticements to ensure the filming remains on location there. (It also helps that the nation is one of the few around the globe that has successfully beaten back the coronavirus, making it safe for casts and crews to work unimpeded).
In addition to giving New Zealand a small fortune in production money infused into various communities, Nash said he also hopes the series furthers the country’s “brand” as the home of the LOTR.
Peter Jackson, the film trilogy’s director, is a native of New Zealand, and he made certain that the movies were filmed in approximately 150 different locations around the country. The movies, and now the television series, are based on books by J.R.R. Tolkien, an English author and scholar who first leapt to fame in 1937 when “The Hobbit” was published.
— The Lord of the Rings on Prime (@LOTRonPrime) March 24, 2021
The advent of streaming services around the globe has brought on what television critics often refer to as a “new golden age” of TV. Series, movies and mini-series are given massive budgets on these platforms and attract big name stars, many of whom would never have considered doing TV early in their careers. Actors like Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant are just a few of the A-listers who’ve done television shows now.
It remains to be seen whether the new “Lord Of the Rings” television series will live up to the advance hype. Too often money is poured into shows that fare only modestly with critics and audiences alike.
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But if the success of the LOTR film franchise is a barometer by which to predict how viewers will respond, chances are it will be a hit around the world. And New Zealand will continue to affirm its reputation as the home of Middle Earth, Tolkien style.