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Amazon’s Lord of the Rings prequel TV show could cost more than the movie trilogy

Eyebrows were raised when Amazon handed over a reported quarter of a billion dollars for the rights to make a TV show based on The Lord of the Rings. That’s a pretty hefty outlay before a single scene has been shot.

Now we’re learning Amazon is preparing to spend around the same amount again on production and marketing of its highest-profile original TV show to date.

Reuters has published information claiming the total would rise to $500m overall, simply for one or two of the seasons.

That would beat the estimated $280m it cost (pre advertising) to make the entire trilogy of Peter Jackson’s Lord of The Rings movies in the early 2000s.

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Amazon has already announced it’ll make multiple seasons of the show, featuring stories previously unexplored on screen, but still based upon Tolkien’s original writings.

The company has yet to confirm when the first season is likely to air, or whether any of the original cast and production team will return to Middle Earth for the new journey.

“The Lord of the Rings is a cultural phenomenon that has captured the imagination of generations of fans through literature and the big screen,” said Sharon Tal Yguado, Head of Scripted Series, Amazon Studios following the announcement.

“We are honored to be working with the Tolkien Estate and Trust, HarperCollins and New Line on this exciting collaboration for television and are thrilled to be taking The Lord of the Rings fans on a new epic journey in Middle Earth.”

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Cost per ‘first stream’

The goal, as it has always been, is to boost Amazon Prime memberships. Today’s report also highlights Amazon’s method for determining the value of its shows in attracting newcomers to the service.

The company’s “first stream” calculation looks at the first show members stream via Prime. It is the production costs divided by the number of viewers who chose that content to stream first.

The cheapest thus far has been The Grand Tour, the company’s Top Gear rival. The show cost $78m to make, which worked out as a cost of $49 per member.

That’s compared to Good Girls Revolt, which cost $81 million at a whopping cost of $1,560 per “first steam” Prime user. That’s down to the reported mere 52,000 streams worldwide. Despite some critical acclaim it was cancelled after just one season.

Is the LotR series the Amazon show you’re most looking forward to? Or do you have some reservations? Drop us a line @TrustedReviews on Twitter.

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