A return to Middle Earth is breaking records over at Amazon Studios. The Hollywood Reporter confirmed that season one of The Lord of the Rings (LOTR) series surpassed all initial estimates costing a total of $465 million dollars. In New Zealand, where the entire season was filmed, that translates to NZ$650 million.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, these numbers were sourced by Stuff publication via a report from New Zealand’s Official Information Act. The documents not only had a record of the total cost but confirmed plans for at least five seasons of the series as well as potential spinoffs. Early estimates figured multiple seasons would max out at around $5ooM.
“What I can tell you is Amazon is going to spend about $650 million in season one alone,” New Zealand minister of economic development and tourism, Stuart Nash, said via The Hollywood Reporter. “This is fantastic, it really is … this will be the largest television series ever made,” Nash continued according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The series adaptation of the iconic fantasy tale is being helmed by showrunners J.D. Payne (Star Trek Beyond) and Patrick McKay (Flash Gordon), via The Hollywood Reporter. Set years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s (The Silmarillion, Beren and Luthien) The Hobbit and LOTR, the series will showcase a mix of old and new characters. Its main cast includes Ismael Cruz Cordova (The Undoing, Miss Bala), Joseph Mawle (The Hollow, The Passion), Robert Aramayo (Behind Her Eyes, Antebellum), Nazanin Boniadi (Ben-Hur, Counterpart), and Owain Arthur (The Patrol, A Confession).
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Amazon receives a tax rebate worth $114M – NZ$160 – which New Zealand officials described as a potential “significant fiscal risk.” However, the country views the eventual jolt to their tourism economy as worth the spending now. The series is set to debut sometime this year.
Much of the total includes more than just production costs. The Hollywood Reporter details acquiring Tolkien’s material alone – which Amazon purchased in 2017 – was a $250M transaction. One can also add the price of costumes, props, and other set designs. Compared to previous costly series, HBO’s Game of Thrones eventually cemented the $100M benchmark per season. Exactly a decade ago this month, season one premiered with episode one costing around $6M. By season eight, each episode was worth $15M.