Amazon made news yesterday by announcing it had acquired the television rights to popular fantasy series, The Lord of the Rings. This comes just two months after Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos reportedly handed down a mandate to Amazon Studios to produce the “next Game of Thrones.”
As one of the best-selling fantasy series of all time (with a film franchise that earned a gross of nearly $6 billion internationally), The Lord of the Rings certainly has the potential to fulfill Bezos’s request. As Amazon Studios’ Sharon Tal Yguado stated, “The Lord of the Rings is a cultural phenomenon that has captured the imagination of generations of fans through literature and the big screen.”
However, some industry experts are skeptical the series will prove profitable. Amazon reportedly paid close to $250 million for the rights to the show with a multi-season commitment. And for a pre-Fellowship of the Ring concept like Amazon has proposed, it will likely cost $100–$150 million per season to produce.
Amazon Prime Video currently costs $99 per year, which is billed up front on an annual basis. This high upfront cost has often proved to be a bit of a hindrance when it comes to encouraging new subscribers. However, rumors began to resurface again this week that Amazon has been in talks with multiple TV networks, movie studios, and other media companies about providing programming to a free, ad-supported service.