The HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones proved to be a critical and commercial hit once it debuted way back in April of 2011. By the seventh season, more than 30 million were tunning in to see each episode. But now that its eight and final season is over, will there be a cultural phenomenon as Game of Thrones?
Middle-earth: A Familiar Fantasy World
When you think of fantasy shows, what do you have in mind? Popular choices would definitely include the Harry Potter film franchise, Once Upon a Time, and even the animated hit Avatar: The Last Airbender. These are all great, but Amazon Prime set its sights on another fantasy realm: The Lord of the Rings.
Middle-earth has been part of the cultural zeitgeist ever since J. R. R. Tolkien published The Hobbit, or There and Back Again in 1937 and The Lord of the Rings in 1954. When Peter Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring arrived in 2001, the world realized just how amazing this fantasy world could be when translated onto the big screen — so much so that The Hobbit was also adapted and turned into a trilogy.
Amazon Prime’s High-Stakes Gamble
Netflix might be the world’s top streaming platform, but Amazon has a lot of money to burn. Its founder alone, Jeff Bezos, has a net worth exceeding $150 billion. And with competition among streaming apps heating up with the imminent entry of Disney+ this year, the company needed to go for the big guns.
The Lord of the Rings is a lucrative property. It’s proven its value with high box office returns and book sales reaching over 150 million copies. So if you wanted the rights to make a TV series out of it, you needed to have a deep pocket. Thankfully for Amazon, it had $250 million to settle the deal.
But Amazon has to pay for far more in the long run. Once you take in the cost of wardrobe, location, hiring excellent actors, and payment for each and every member of the series staff, the company could sell out over $1.5 billion. If this LOTR series doesn’t pan out, it’s going to be a financial disaster.
A New Yet Old World for Everyone
Some people don’t see the upcoming LOTR series as a hit like Game of Thrones. But the thing is that Amazon isn’t being reckless here. For one, it sought the help not only of Peter Jackson but also of GoT writer Bryan Cogman. The company is taking time to ensure that everything goes well at this stage.
And more importantly, Amazon isn’t just going to remake what was already told in the movies. Instead, the series will serve as a prequel to The Fellowship of the Ring. It’s still going to be in Middle-earth — and Amazon will still shoot many of the scenes in New Zealand — but it’s going to tell a different story.
Remember: The movies showed Middle-earth during the Third Age. On the other hand, the upcoming Amazon Prime series will occur in the Second Age. So if you’d like to witness how the Dark Lord Sauron came to create the One Ring, you’d better tune in once it premieres in 2021.