For the broadcasting rights of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power was paid $250 million. And for the first season, an additional $465 million was added. The series, which is on Prime Video as of today, is by far the most expensive ever. What does all that money go to?By Fabian Melchers
One episode of a large series often costs a lot of money. That’s how it goes The Crown to 13 million dollars (13 million euros) and sit Game of Thrones in The Mandalorian at $15 million. Disney series like WandaVision in Hawkeye reportedly cost $25 million per episode. But The Rings of Power seems to go well beyond that. With the eight episodes of the first season you are on a more than 58 million dollars each.
We have to qualify that amount. The sets, costumes and props created now can be used in later seasons. In total there are five seasons Scheduled. So the cost of the newer seasons may be less than this initial monster investment.
It is clear from the first episode that we are watching a very expensive series. As various storylines kick in, an array of detailed sets and epic battles pass by.
‘No stone or plate is real’
Film producer Alain de Levita (The Battle of the Scheldt, Banker of the Resistance) says that a lot of money goes into such a fantasy world. “Everything you see in the picture has to be made in advance,” he says. “No stone or sign is real. Mountains and cities in the background are often made with the computer, but the foreground consists of real sets. Both are very expensive. The Battle of the Scheldt something like that was limited to a few scenes. Here you can see whole new worlds being created, on a scale that I’ve rarely, if ever, seen for a series.”
Producer Klaas de Jong worked on, among other things: Michael de Ruyter, a film with many real sets, but also with old ships that came from the computer. “It contained about 1.5 million euros in CGI (digital animation, ed.)”, he says. “It was relatively simple by international standards, but very extensive for the Netherlands. Such a process is quite impressive. For each person who works on the CGI, you lose just 1,000 euros a day.”
‘Impossible in the Netherlands’
Rob Hillenbrink, who, among other things, made masks for the horror film Sint made, view some photos of orcs in The Rings of Power. “This is the usual Hollywood work,” he responds. “Nicely detailed and impossible in the Netherlands. People from all over the world come to a production like this. They travel from one workshop to another. Abroad you have specialists for every discipline.”
An orc mask already consists of several parts. Cheeks, noses and foreheads are separate parts, so that the face moves beautifully naturally. “First, those parts are modelled,” says Hillenbrink. “After that they go to the mold department. Then they end up with the people who mix the silicone. Then the hairs are pierced by other people. And then there is a team of experts to color the mask. Here in the Netherlands they do. we did the whole process ourselves, with three or four people. We also work way too hard here, actually,” he laughs.
‘It can always be better and better’
The Rings of Power sets the bar high in terms of production budget. How much more can it get? Do you see any difference at all between a $300 million production and a $400 million production? “There is never enough money,” says Hillenbrink. “It can always be more beautiful and better. And the more time you want to spend on something, the more expensive it becomes. But the market for this type of series is also very large.”
Still, De Jong has doubts about this. “When you release a movie in theaters, you can attract a huge audience worldwide,” he says. “But now everyone has to have access to your channel for that same reach. You may wonder how sustainable that is. Disney still has a fantastic catalog to draw from, but services like Prime and Netflix have to invest a lot to keep running. “
‘This series is meant to unpack’
It is difficult to see whether a series is successful, since streaming services themselves choose which figures they publish. “We don’t know that much about these payback models,” says De Levita. “But the principle is very simple: those streamers have to keep making high profile products to stay interesting. The Rings of Power will attract millions of new subscribers. They all pay a few euros a month, so that makes a lot of money. But at some point they saw everything again. So something has to be added.”
“But that’s also easy,” says De Levita. “It concerns such large numbers of subscribers that you also have a lot of money for content. You can then make three beautiful series or the most expensive series ever. With the latter you are unprecedentedly controversial. In that way it is also a business strategy . This series is really meant to be played with.”
Source: NU by www.nu.nl.
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