The final season of HBO’s blockbuster series “Game of Thrones” garnered headlines for costing $90 million (aka $15 million per episode), but that price tag is chump change compared to the millions Amazon is reportedly spending on its upcoming “Lord of the Rings” television series. Early reports in 2018 pegged at least two seasons of “Rings” costing Amazon in the $500-million range, but now The Hollywood Reporter confirms just the first season is set to cost around $450 million.
The $450 million price tag was first reported by New Zealand publication Stuff, which confirmed the series qualifies for a government subsidy of NZ$160 million because the budget is estimated at NZ$650 million (which translates to 450 million in U.S. dollars). A source close to Amazon confirmed the Stuff report as accurate.
Stuart Nash, New Zealand’s Economic Development Minister, touted “Rings” as “the largest television series ever made” in an interview with Morning Report, adding, “What I can tell you is Amazon is going to spend about $650 million in season one alone. This is fantastic, it really is.”
Nash added in a statement (via Reuters), “The agreement with Amazon generates local jobs and creates work for local businesses. It will enable a new wave of international tourism branding and promotion for this country.”
According to Stuff, the “Rings” production is estimated to lead to “51,000 nights spent in hotels, 76,000 car hires, and 29,000 truck and van hires…A separate Deloitte report said the production would help the screen sector add NZ$500 million to the economy by 2024.”
To put the $450-million price tag into perspective, note that Peter Jackson spent around $280 million to make the original “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. The follow-up “Hobbit” trilogy cost a reported $623 million.
Amazon’s “Lord of the Rings” cast includes Robert Aramayo, Owain Arthur, Nazanin Boniadi, Morfydd Clark, Ismael Cruz Córdova, and Ema Horvath. Clark, an acting breakout last year thanks to her performance in “Saint Maud,” is rumored to be playing a young Galadriel. The show is developed by J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay and features direction from “The Orphanage” and “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” director J. A. Bayona. The director is helming the first two episodes of the series, while “Hunters” and “Preacher” director Wayne Che Yip is confirmed to be directing four episodes.