August 29, 2022
When Amazon in 2017 beat out Netflix and HBO paying $250 million for the television production rights to “The Lord of the Rings,” it promised an over-the-top episodic series to come.
On Sept. 2, Prime Video will debut the first two of eight episodes of the original series, “Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.” The series has a reported production cost of more than $715 million, making it the most-expensive season of television ever created.
The show will debut two weeks after HBO bowed its “Game of Thrones” prequel, “House of the Dragon,” to impressive streaming viewership numbers.
Warner Bros. Pictures’ last “Lord of the Rings” movie — The Return of the King — was released in 2003, generating more than $1.1 billion at the global box office, in addition to millions more across home entertainment retail channels. The movie also won 11 Oscars, including best picture.
The studios’ three prequel films based on “The Hobbit” released in 2012, 2013 and 2014 were less successful financially and critically.
The television rights came about only after the estate of “Rings” author J.R.R. Tolkien reportedly sued Warner after it licensed the intellectual property for a series of online video games and slot machines. The settlement included auctioning off the TV rights with the proceeds to be split by Warner and the Tolkien estate.
Warner and the Tolkien estate had expected to get upwards of $75 million for the TV rights.
Amazon reportedly beat out Netflix and HBO by leveraging its book-selling e-commerce roots to continue selling Tolkien’s books. Indeed, Amazon shoppers voted “Lord of the Rings” the best book of the millennium in 1999.
“We are delighted that Amazon, with its longstanding commitment to literature, is the home of the text,” the Tolkien estate said in a 2017 statement when the deal was first announced.