Yes, The Rings of Power Feels Like A Billion Dollar Show;  What Does It Really Mean For Amazon?
Yes, The Rings of Power Feels Like A Billion Dollar Show; What Does It Really Mean For Amazon?

Yes, The Rings of Power Feels Like A Billion Dollar Show; What Does It Really Mean For Amazon?

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Before being called Lord of the Rings: The Ring of Powerit’s called “Amazon $1 billion” Lord of the Rings shows.” Headlines around Power Ring always contextualized by the sheer amount of money behind the TV series for Prime Video. And the financial damage will leave you gaping: in 2017 Amazon paid $250 million just for the rights to the Tolkien estate with at least a $750 million commitment for five seasons. The first season alone ended up costing $465 million. For comparison: HBO’s Rome The series was the most expensive TV production ever, except for talent salaries, in 2005: the first season cost an estimated $100 million.

Stories from Power RingExpenditure’s also wrapped up in two of the film’s favorite production words: tax breaks. Like Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings and Hobbits trilogy, Power Ring received a sizeable tax rebate of around $100 million from the New Zealand government for filming in that country. They got a break at a much higher rate than most productions, but still abandoned this deal in favor of shooting in the UK for the upcoming season. Obviously, money is not a problem for this production.

Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke justified the high cost of the first season by explaining that they were “building the infrastructure that will sustain the entire series.” The studio has the intention of investing years into this show and putting every last dollar to good use. So with the African island nation of Comoros’ annual GDP budget committed to bringing Tolkien’s world to life, does the show really feel like a billion dollars wasted?

The truth is that the show does look amazing. The little details that make the fantastical world feel beautiful are everywhere. The armor and detailed costumes stand out, but the tiniest twigs and branches Harfoot wears are where Amazon money really shines. Magnificent shots showcasing the natural beauty of the world alongside impressively constructed towns and villages bring a cinematic quality to a show that TV has been trying to emulate for years. And VFX, in which 9,500 shots were completed, is on par with the best film productions and even better than most Disney releases in recent years. There is a feeling when watching Power Ring that show required to look good. Every inkling of his cheapness and crew will be ridiculed from every part of the internet for a “billion dollar show” to come out no better than the average Netflix production.

And again, Power Ring still pales in comparison to what could have been done with that kind of money. It’s inevitable to compare Power Ring to Lord of the Rings series, which sets the bar high for what can be done to bring fantasy to life. The budget for all three films was just under $300 million and is considered one of the great achievements of filmmaking: 48,000 pieces of armor, 10,000 real arrows, 1,800 Orc body suits, and a battle with an extra 250!

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But the most valuable thing that a production can buy with their money is not people or products, but time. First season of Power Ring went from writing to airing in less than 3 years while Lord of the Rings spent 2 years in pre-production before recordings were shot. But with such a huge investment, I doubt anyone at Amazon would want to spend too long just planning a show. (Amazon bought the rights and commitments to make the series in 2017; they don’t yet know what the actual show will look like). What can? Power Ring been done with an extra year just to design and imagine the world they have a blank check to make?

I will never know the answer because Power Ring it’s not just a TV show, it’s just one avenue in Amazon’s desire for complete control over culture and commerce. Mark Sweney in Security in a nutshell: “Amazon’s TV strategy should support a broader strategic goal: getting people to buy more stuff.” If you move your mouse or press a button while watching Power RingAmazon overlays will invite you to buy a Tolkien book or provide a trailer Silmarillion to interest you. Power Ring is the synergy between Amazon’s vertical and horizontal integration. They want to own every possible sector and every possible move.

Power Ring is just the latest development in Streaming Wars for supremacy. Having a big name brand and engaging content is better than any slow approach. When Amazon bought the rights in 2017, they came out of some major scandals and were generally considered low on the production ladder compared to Netflix. Putting record-breaking dollars behind much-loved intellectual property is a great way to get people talking about your streaming offerings instead of the actual cost of your two-day delivery.

But Power Ring not just a piece of hollow “content” inherently tied to a multi-year marketing strategy. The show was created by JD Payne and Patrick McKay who launched the series to Amazon with just a few film credits. They made this event created through their passion for the subject matter. In his interview with gamesRadar about the production, director JA Bayona said of Galadriel and Elrond’s long dialogue scene in Episode 1, “But doing that scene, I know it’s not about the set piece. That’s what the show is all about. ” Power Ring made by people who love Tolkien and seem very happy to be able to tell interesting stories in a fantastical world. It’s not about maximizing the number of views with their endless dollars. They found joy in the little bits of knowledge and stories that prompted Tolkien to write page after page about trees.

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The amount of money spent bringing to life some of the worlds of passionate people in stunning resolution shows a true cross-section of Power Ringhis role as a TV show. It reminds us of an excerpt from an internal memo at Paramount in 1982 in which Michael Eisner (future Disney CEO) wrote, “We have no obligation to create art. We have no obligation to make history. We have no obligation to make any representations. But to make money, it’s often important to make history, make art, or make some important statement. We always have to make films that are entertaining, and, if we make films that are entertaining, sometimes, we will reliably make history, art, statements, or all three.” For all press Power Ring get for bringing diversity to the world of Tolkien or how beautiful it looks, all of these things are incidental to Amazon’s real goal of making money. TV is a business, but Power Ring feels more like a product than most shows because it has been and always will be discussed in the context of that $1 billion price tag. It can be made cheaper and still look good and driven by passionate people. All the beauty, all the headlines, it’s just part of the marketing strategy.

The most disappointing part of Power Ring is that even with all this money, Amazon can’t buy the world’s attention. The streaming numbers haven’t been released yet but based solely on online buzz and anecdotal conversations, HBO’s fantasy rivals Dragon House seems to be very more popular. You can place Power Ring on your homepage you can box each Prime delivery saying “WATCH RING OF POWER” You can even have everyone’s Alexa sing the Howard Shore score over and over until an episode starts playing. But genuine joy for a project must be felt through the screens and conveyed among people.

So what does it mean to spend $1 billion on a show? That means things will only go up more and more. The world of streaming is getting faster and the people who will be the fastest will be the ones who have the most money to burn. Amazon has the resources to make a billion dollars, doesn’t it Netflix? What is Paramount?

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Amazon is excited Power Ring as a risk but I don’t believe it. Salke said the project was “not for the faint of heart” and the series was often described as a “gamble” or “gamble” in the media. But Power Ring have an all in all risk go all in poker hand when you have stake in the casino. Amazon provides tax breaks, they spend money on building a streaming platform they haven’t paid much attention to in years, and the company is reportedly making $1.29 billion dollars a day! Digital researcher Andrew Hare described Amazon’s approach to the show’s success as “worth it for them to see how this shot lands.” Success will support the prevailing strategy that you can buy attention through IP and acquisitions. Failure meant Amazon had to revamp their streaming strategy and reassemble their Idea Men. Either way, the only losers are the shows that think they’re important to Amazon when in fact it’s just the latest corporate approach in crowdfunding.

I don’t want to Power Ring failed because I really like the people behind it. I don’t want to Power Ring to succeed because I don’t think the message that you can buy yourself cultural legitimacy over IP is the right way to go. But with viewership numbers undisclosed and Amazon already committed to another season, it looks like it will be a while until we find out what the story of the billion-dollar series really is. Maybe all the effort, teamwork and passion will come together to create a powerful show that can rule it all. Or maybe Power Ring destined to be lost to time at the bottom of the river with all the other content that didn’t survive Streaming Wars.

Leila Jordan is a writer and former world record holder for jigsaw puzzles. To talk about all things movies, TV and useless trivia, you can find it @galaxyleila

For all the latest TV news, reviews, listings and features, follow @Paste_TV.

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