Gandalf told Frodo to keep the ring secret and safe. Amazon is taking that advice to heart.
In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke boasted that the writers for its upcoming Lord of the Rings TV series are hard at work in what amounts to a safe room under several layers of security:
There’s a fantastic writers room working under lock and key. They’re already generating really exciting material. They’re down in Santa Monica. You have to go through such clearance, and they have all their windows taped closed. And there’s a security guard that sits outside, and you have to have a fingerprint to get in there, because their whole board is up on a thing of the whole season.
Taped windows. Security guards. Fingerprint access. It might sound excessive, but these intense security measures have become normal for major TV series and films in order to prevent script and set leaks in the era of internet spoilers. Amazon will reportedly invest more than $1 billion in the Lord of the Rings series alone—the least it can do is make certain that investment is protected.
As the most pirated show in the world, HBO’s Game of Thrones has set the standard for television security. After HBO was hacked in 2017 and episodes of the fantasy series were leaked, the network ramped up security even further for its eighth and final season, debuting in April: drone-killing technology, self-destructing digital scripts, and multiple endings to throw off the spoiler hounds.
Such measures have long been implemented for blockbuster films (Mark Hamill compared script security on Star Wars: Episode IX to a CIA tactic) but have only recently come to TV. Shows like Game of Thrones and Amazon’s Lord of the Rings are as lucrative as most Hollywood movies, and networks will do anything to protect their intellectual property, even if it borders on paranoia. When you’re spending $1 billion on a show, what’s another couple million to turn the writers room into Fort Knox?