Head of Amazon Studios says the high budgets are for assets to be leveraged over many seasons.
Hollywood Reporter published a roundtable discussion with several studio heads, including Amazon’s Jennifer Salke; and of course the conversation turned to LORD OF THE RINGS, which is the biggest budgeted TV series in history. “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.”
A day later, Amazon announced that director Wayne Yip is the newest Executive Producer of LOTR, making a baker’s dozen of 13 E.P.’s in charge; and confirmed the recent rumor of the first woman to direct for Middle-earth with Charlotte Brändström joining the production, who seems fully on board:
“I’m very excited to be guided through Middle-earth by JD’s and Patrick’s vision.”Charlotte Brändström, LOTR Season 1 Director
Global, Global, Global
It’s no secret Amazon wants LOTR to be a global show; and they shouldn’t have to worry, since JRR Tolkien’s LORD OF THE RINGS is the worldwide best selling fictional book of the 20th century, and is still considered one of the biggest selling fantasy books in every one of the 38 languages it’s published in. New Line and WB’s Middle-earth films set international sales records, and LOTR is still the most awarded film series in history across the globe.
Amazon’s Salke reinforced her global mandate multiple times, saying, “I’m so grateful to be in the position to drive this part of our business globally… A giant, global audience needs to show up to it as appointment television, and we are pretty confident that that will happen… It’s a global storytelling world, and these companies better get on board because it’s already late.”
LOTR has always been global in nature, but this being Amazon the real global reason is simple. “As for how many people need to watch Lord of the Rings? A lot. (laughs)” says Jennifer Salke. As head of Amazon Studios reporting to Jeff Bezos, there’s probably a constant conversation about metrics. But what makes a global show now may differ from what came before, with Salke adding, “The more diverse the cast, the better; the more diverse and authentic the storytelling, the better.”
For context on the 13 E.P.’s on Amazon’s show, New Line Cinema’s Lord of the Rings had only one active Executive Producer in Mark Ordesky, with the other 4 E.P. credits going to studio heads. This could be seen as a singular visionary in charge, just as there was a singular visionary director for all the films; and just as J.R.R. Tolkien was the singular visionary who never collaborated in crafting Middle-earth.