The new Amazon The Lord of the Rings series, The Rings of Power , made history by becoming the most expensive TV show of all time . Beating Stranger Things 4 's episode budget of $30 million with an episode budget of $58 million, the showrunners were trusted to deliver something spectacular for Amazon and the franchise fans.
So why did Amazon trust two showrunners with hardly any Hollywood credits between them?
After spending $250 million to obtain the rights from the Tolkien estate to make the first show set in Middle-earth, the streaming and e-commerce giant interviewed a number of A-list showrunners and directors like the Russo brothers to take on the behemoth of a show.
According to the Wall Street Journal , two relative unknowns impressed Amazon the most with their passion and dedication to the world created by J.R.R. Tolkien.
“The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay. Credit: Getty Images
Patrick McKay and J. D. Payne delivered an impressive pitch with a deeply thorough plan for a 50-hour television saga.
Their pitch for the show focused on a period of Middle-earth thousands of years before the events of The Lord of the Rings films, which lined up with Simon Tolkien's idea for the series.
"Simon Tolkien had an idea of the show he wanted, and they went and pitched it without knowing it," a source familiar with the show's production told the WSJ. The grandson of the late author was further impressed by Payne during their initial conversations for the show, in which Payne spoke Elvish and quoted J.R.R. Tolkien.
During a panel at the Television Critics Association, the Hollywood Reporter wrote that McKay believes that their show has "deep roots" in "the books and in Tolkien."
He continued, saying, "If we didn't feel that way, we'd all be terrified to sit up here. We feel that this story isn't ours. It's a story we're stewarding that was here before us and was waiting in those books to be on Earth... We feel deeply, deeply, connected to those folks and work every day to even be closely connected."
The passion McKay and Payne displayed for Amazon and the Tolkien estate showed that they had a clear vision of the story they wanted to tell, and were in service of the fans of the movies and the novels. Was it a gamble to give these first-time showrunners such a costly project? Yes, but everyone believed in the project and the story that needed to be told.
'The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power' Credit: Prime Video
I will say that the risk was rewarded well. Amazon says that The Rings of Power premiere drew in 25 million viewers around the world during its first 24 hours. While it is unclear what metric Amazon uses to measure views, Jennifer Salke, the head of Amazon Studios, said in a statement that the show was a resounding success for the platform.
"I am so grateful to the Tolkien Estate—and to our showrunners J. D. Payne and Patrick McKay, executive producer Lindsey Weber, cast and crew—for their tireless collaborative efforts and boundless creative energy. And it is the tens of millions of fans watching—clearly as passionate about Middle-earth as we are—who are our true measure of success,” Salke said.
Having a clear vision of the project you want to create will generate confidence in yourself and confidence in others who can clearly understand the story you want to tell. While there are some showrunners or directors of a franchise who failed to create a successful continuation of a story, Payne and McKay had a detailed plan for a detailed story based on the history we briefly heard of in the films while building on Middle-earth.
The Rings of Power releases episodes every Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on Prime Video.
Have you watched? Let us know what you think of the series in the comments below!
Source: The Wall Street Journal