Blockbusters are no longer just a tool of the film industry. HBO is shelling out upwards of $90 million for the final season of Game of Thrones, Netflix (NFLX) dropped a reported $130 million on The Crown and Amazon (AMZN) is planning to blow both price tags away with its new Lord of the Rings TV series. It’s all just part of the game these days.
“The shift is the speed of things,” ICM Partners managing director Chris Silbermann told THR. “Now there is so much pressure to move the needle quickly, so this rush to big shows, big franchises, big budgets, big talent is all about making noise and making it fast.”
According to the outlet, Amazon’s deal to bring Middle Earth to the small screen is for five seasons, including a potential spinoff. THR‘s sources peg the global rights at $250 million while production costs are rumored to reach as high as $1 billion. Wow. Just wow.
The Amazon series will feature adventures that take place before The Fellowship of the Ring, with some eager fans clamoring for a storyline that explores the forging of the rings of power.
“This is a unique opportunity to tell new stories in a magical world that is a global phenomenon,” Amazon head of scripted Sharon Tal Yguado told the outlet. “As we build our diverse portfolio of programming, we are making some of our big bets on tentpole series.”
Television has been trending upwards in quality, scope and ambition for some time. In addition to the big budget spectacles like Game of Thrones currently on the air, more and more event series are on the way. Disney (DIS) recently announced plans for a live action Star Wars TV show for its 2019 streaming platform. CBS All Access is setting subscription records thanks to Star Trek: Discovery. Aside from Lord of the Rings, Amazon has three big sci-fi projects in the works. Entertainment is in the midst of a serious arms race.
“All content is good content,” Silbermann added. “The new world is built on value creation and things that get viewers’ attention.”
That means more familiar IP titles like big budget adaptations of beloved source material, which is great. But that also means that smaller series like Rectify and Mr. Robot may be a dying breed, which is not so great. The TV industry needs to find a happy medium between monolithic moneymakers and quality scaled-down niche hits.
But admittedly, we’re still distracted by that $1 billion bill Amazon is wracking up. Whew boy.