Smaug would be livid. Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings series, the streamer’s big IP investment that they hope will be their culture-capturing phenomenon a la Game of Thrones will reportedly cost $465 million in just its first season.
The Hollywood Reporter claims that this budget has been confirmed by the New Zealand government, which is very wrapped up in the series’ production.
Amazon will be getting a $114 million tax rebate from the country because of its incredible spending—if Amazon is truly spending this much money, it would easily be the most expensive TV show ever made. Thrones, for example, only cost around $100 million per season at its most expensive, even as costs rose towards its more effects and battle-heavy finale. $465 million would be 16,030 median Amazon employee salaries ($29,007 a year) or about .0026 of one Jeff Bezos (estimated net worth of $177B).
It’s a ridiculous figure, which THR is smart to point out might be frontloaded with world-building costs. If Amazon truly plans for this series to be their streamer’s main attraction, it’ll be going on for a good long while. That means building out its version of Middle-earth could be a massive up-front investment that means later seasons won’t cost as much…or it could mean that it’ll just be a ridiculously expensive show that continues to point out the growing disparity in the entertainment industry between massive blockbusters and tiny indies throughout its run.
Maybe Bezos will be a fan and personally finance dozens of seasons, giving J.R.R. Tolkien’s world depth that even the language and history-obsessed author couldn’t dream of.
Those wanting to know more about the series can find everything we know about it so far here.