A Lord of the Rings TV series came into sharper focus with Amazon’s official announcement, but what will it take to bring us back into Tolkien’s world? A new report suggests the multi-season prequel drama could cost practically all the gold in Smaug’s cavern.

Amazon initially confirmed a “multi-season commitment” to a prequel series set before The Fellowship of the Ring, along with a potential spinoff, though a new analysis from The Hollywood Reporter offers a few more specifics. The actual deal is said to be for five seasons, not including the spinoff, while global rights alone may have cost Amazon as much as $250 million. A hefty price-tag for sure, but one compounded by the actual costs of making the series, which might cross the $1 billion mark:

Once production budgets, casting, writers, producers and visual effects are factored in, the total for the Rings series — which will be set in Middle-earth and explore storylines preceding The Fellowship of the Ring — could hit $1 billion. Yes, $1 billion for a TV show.

For context, Amazon is said to only spend around $4 billion a year on its original content, while Peter Jackson’s six Rings and Hobbit films have a combined global box office of $6 billion (h/t The Atlantic). Finance industry observers told Deadline that Amazon’s deal was “insane,” while the series is likely to run between $100 million and $150 million each season. That’s “Game of Thrones at its peak” money.

We don’t yet know when Amazon might confirm additional details or a production plan (we’d guess a late 2019-2020 premiere at the earliest), but will a Lord of the Rings TV series pay off?

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