Back in November, the online retail giant bought the rights to the J.R.R. Tolkein for $250 million (beating Netflix's bid in the process). Now, The Hollywood Reporter says Amazon will likely spend a whopping total of $1 billion to bring J.R.R. Tolkien's series to life for its streaming platform. Amazon also signed a five-season commitment to the fantasy series and is obligated to go into production within two years or they'll lose the rights to the franchise—and their $250 million.
With this price-point, it's likely Lord of the Rings will join the ranks as one of the most expensive TV series ever. Amazon Studios' original series like Sneaky Pete, Transparent, and The Man in High Castle, run 10 episodes per season. If the same goes for LOTR, that works out to about $20 million per episode, making it $5 million more than Game of Thrones' final season cost at $15 million per episode and a tie for Steven Spielberg's HBO miniseries The Pacific. As Uproxx points out, $1 billion is also one-eighth of Netflix's entire 2018 spending budget.
The series won't just be a cardboard cutout of Peter Jackson's run of six film adaptations (counting The Hobbit) though, since it'll also "explore storylines preceding The Fellowship of the Ring," according to The Hollywood Reporter. Lord of the Rings has been criticized for lacking people-of-color in its narrative—something Amazon could rectify as well.
"This is a unique opportunity to tell new stories in a magical world that is a global phenomenon," Amazon head of scripted Sharon Tal Yguado told THR. "As we build our diverse portfolio of programming, we are making some of our big bets on tentpole series."