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Amazon paid hundreds of millions of dollars for the rights to turn J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings into an epic TV series for its Amazon Prime Video streaming service. The site also committed to a reported five seasons of the show, meaning this is a huge, long-term investment But now we’re getting a sense of just how big that investment really is.

An article in Morning Report (via The Hollywood Reporter about the investment Amazon is making in New Zealand to shoot the project there cites Minister for Economic Development and Tourism Stuart Nash in stating that “Amazon is going to spend about $650 million in season one alone.” That’s in New Zealand dollars — converted to U.S. dollars, the number becomes $465 million for just one season of TV. (For point of comparison, a season of Game of Thrones cost HBO about $100 million.) With eight episodes planned for Season 1, that comes out to a cost of about $58 million per episode. (For another point of comparison, The Fellowship of the Ring cost about $90 million.)

Amazon will be eligible for a tax rebate from the New Zealand government — and given the size of the production, it could be a substantial one in the range of more than $100 million. Even after that rebate, you’re looking at one of the most expensive TV shows ever made. If Amazon is making five seasons of the show on this scale, The Lord of the Rings could be a $1 billion television series. Developed by J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, it’s expected to premiere later in 2021 on Amazon Prime Video.

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