Amazon needs "Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" to be a hit

The sword and sorcery epic is challenging the "Game of Thrones" franchise for the crown of most successful fantasy TV series
Actor Morfydd Clark as Galadriel in “The Rings of Power”
Actor Morfydd Clark as Galadriel in “The Rings of Power”
Image: Amazon Studios
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When Amazon delivered its first look at Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power with a teaser trailer during Super Bowl LVI, it became the most-watched online trailer in the sporting event’s history. That was a good start considering that the show’s $465 million budget is the most Amazon Studios has ever spent to produce a television series.

And that figure only represents the production cost for the first eight-episode season. It doesn’t include the $250 million Amazon paid the Tolkien estate for television rights. Together, the series has cost $715 million so far. With at least five more seasons planned, The Rings of Power will push far past the billion-dollar mark as soon as season two, which has already been approved for production.

“The Rings of Power” is launching against direct competition from HBO’s “House of the Dragon”

For comparison, Game of Thrones cost HBO roughly $100 million per episode, and the more recent spinoff, House of the Dragon, will cost even less at roughly $150 to $200 million for the entire season. Two weeks ago, the buzz around Dragon was far outpacing Rings, but that may soon change.

Some of the early reactions to the trailers have resulted in mixed reviews, with some hardcore Tolkien fans on social media and on YouTube voicing skepticism. Meanwhile, on Rotten Tomatoes, the first two episodes of the show have garnered an 85% positive rating from professional reviewers.

Perhaps the most revealing reactions have come from fans who attended Cinemark’s special screenings of the episodes at movie theaters, which kicked off on Wednesday (Aug. 31) night to packed venues in the US. So far, fan reactions have been enthusiastic, but since the event was free, it’s difficult to gauge those in-theater impressions.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power - Official Trailer | Prime Video

The real test will be how the series is received by the 175 million Amazon Prime Video viewers at home. The next 48 hours will determine whether or not Amazon’s biggest bet ever on original programming has succeeded. It could make or break its plans to engage in similarly large productions in the future.