But is that a predictor of quality?
In 2017, Amazon bought the rights to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings- a fantasy book series turn movie trilogy with a massive critical and commercial success that continues to be rampant in nerd culture to this day. Scheduled to air in September of next year, this series will take place thousands of years prior to the events in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogies. Like the prior movies, this series is being filmed in New Zealand. Though, a recent release from the country’s government’s official information act revealed the staggering costs behind the show. Production costs alone have reach up to 650 New Zealand Dollars, which converts to about $465 USD. But that’s just production. After factoring in costs like marketing, distribution, and merchandising, the projected cost may be closer to $1 billion USD. To put that in perspective, one season of HBO’s Game of Thrones costed around $100 million to produce.
With such large budget, naturally, expectations among the public are high, but some more dedicated fans of Middle Earth (including yours truly) are a bit skeptical to assume that budget size will equate to quality and success. There’s no doubt that the production team will be adding all the bells and whistles to the show’s special effects. It will likely be a visual masterpiece. However, it was a comment made by Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos that he wanted The Lord of the Rings TV series to be the next Game of Thrones. On the outside, that comment could make sense, with Game of Thrones being a fantasy series with success in a global market, why not attempt to make the new The Lord of the Rings TV series similar in style? It’s been reported that Amazon will be adding more violence and nudity to their new series in the hopes to gain the interest of the same demographic as Game of Thrones. However, this is where some fans started to criticize Amazon executives for not acknowledging the key differences in the two shows that made them successful in their own rights.
Excessive sex and gore do not have to be present in a story to make it successful. The Lord of the Rings was wildly successful without a major dark undertone in the narrative. You didn’t need to see two characters like Aragorn and Arwen getting intimate to understand their strong romantic chemistry. By using elements from other shows as a template for success, its easy to overlook the characteristics that make the original so iconic and popular. However, there is cautionary tale that they should be following from the progression of Game of Thrones: Game of Thrones season 8 is known in the mainstream as being a critical failure. Without getting into a rabbit hole of details, season 8 of the show presented issues when the show writers were left without any new material from the author of the Song of Ice & Fire author, George R. R. Martin. In lieu of that material, season 8 was written by a team that seemingly missed the mark on a lot of the story structure and narratives that Game of Throne fans loved from Martin’s Novels. The Lord of the Rings TV series will not be based on any existing stories from J.R.R. Tolkien, but writers employed by Amazon. Many fans have claimed that one of the major reasons for Lord of the Ring’s past success was because the stories remained so faithful to the source material, so Lord of the Rings TV show will have a lot to live up to.