In brief: Amazon is putting a lot of faith into its upcoming "Lord of the Rings" series. The company has invested a record $465 million into producing the first season alone, but that could be considered a fair amount for "the largest television series ever made."
Amazon had already bet big on a Lord of the Rings series when it paid $250 million to secure the rights to the franchise in 2017. The Hollywood Reporter confirmed that the company would spend roughly NZ$650 million (~$465 million) on the first season---initial reports claimed Amazon would spend $500 million on multiple seasons. While that figure does include startup costs, it's still an obscene amount of money.
"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 Lord of the Rings series' first-season budget dwarfs the biggest shows in television history. The final and most expensive season of Game of Thrones cost $90 million, or $15 million per episode; Disney's Marvel series cost up to $25 million per episode, which means WandaVision's first nine episodes totaled around $225 million; the Mandalorian, meanwhile, came in around $100 million for season one.
The show is causing some controversy in New Zealand---the same location used for the movies---over higher-than-usual subsidies offered by the country's government, with the first season qualifying for $160 million in taxpayer-funded subs.
"These grants are part and parcel of the international film industry, and without this you don't get a look in the door," said Nash. Stuff reports that Amazon is also required to partner with local companies to invest in R&D as part of the deal, and it could establish offshoots of its other businesses in the country.
According to the official description, the Lord of the Rings show 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." The series is scheduled to arrive later this year.
Image credit: Andrei Diomidov