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Lord of the Rings Needs to Work For a ‘Giant, Global Audience’ Says Amazon Studios Chief

The stakes are high for the Amazon Studios’ upcoming Lord of the Rings series. With a reported first season budget of $465 million, it will be one of the most expensive shows ever made.How do justify such an expensive endeavor? Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke said it was mostly due to the madness of the market, noting that Netflix paid $469 for two sequels to Knives Out.

But she also revealed Amazon’s lofty expectations for the forthcoming prequel. “As for how many people need to watch Lord of the Rings? A lot. (Laughs.) A giant, global audience needs to show up to it as appointment television, and we are pretty confident that that will happen,” Salke said.

Naturally, every show wants to garner a large audience, but Amazon is setting a high bar for The Lord of the Rings. In today’s world of fragmented entertainment, few shows can be called “event television.” Like its competitors, Amazon appears eager to fill the void created by The Game of Thrones, which capped off its run with a finale watched by 19.3 million viewers. It will face competition from Disney’s run of very successful MCU and Star Wars shows, as well as a planned Game of Thrones prequel.As for where all that money is actually going, Salke says that most of it is about building up the infrastructure for the rest of the show. “This is a full season of a huge world-building show. The number is a sexy headline or a crazy headline that’s fun to click on, but that is really building the infrastructure of what will sustain the whole series. But it is a crazy world and various people on this Zoom, mostly Bela and me, have been in bidding situations where it starts to go incredibly high. There’s a lot of wooing and we have to make decisions on where we want to stretch and where we want to draw the line,” Salke said.

Anyone who has watched the making of the original Lord of the Rings trilogy will know how much work that entails. There are the sets, the prop, and everything else that goes into bringing Middle-earth to life. It will once again take place in New Zeland, which served as the backdrop for Peter Jackson’s trilogy.

Amazon’s The Lord of The Rings: Every Confirmed Actor

Earlier this year, Amazon released the show’s plot synopsis, which promises to take viewers from the “darkest depths of the Misty Mountains to the majestic forests of the elf-capital of Lindon.” It is set during Middle-earth’s Second Age, and will take viewers back to an era in which “great powers were forged, kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin, unlikely heroes were tested, hope hung by the finest of threads, and the greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness.”

Production is currently underway, and you can find out which familiar characters may be showing up, which actors have joined the show, and our explainer of The Second Age.

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