Why Amazon Put Its $715 Million ‘Lord of the Rings' Series in the Hands of Two First-Time Showrunners

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Amazon's new $715 million "Lord of the Rings" series is the most expensive TV show of all time, but it was created by two showrunners with hardly any Hollywood credits between them.

After spending $250 million to land the rights to make a show set in Middle-earth, the ecommerce giant interviewed numerous A-listers — including "Avengers: Endgame" directors the Russo brothers — while searching for the right creators to bring its series to life.

But during the search, the Wall Street Journal reports, two relative unknowns impressed Amazon brass the most.

Patrick McKay and J.D. Payne were able to rise above dozens of "generic" pitches with their deeply thought out plan for a 50-hour television saga.

The duo's pitch for the show — which focused on a period in Middle-earth thousands of years before the events of the "Lord of the Rings" films — inadvertently aligned with the vision that J.R.R. Tolkien's grandson Simon Tolkien had for a series, according to the Journal.

"Simon Tolkien had an idea of the show he wanted," a source familiar with the show's production told the Journal, "and they went and pitched it without knowing it."

The younger Tolkien, who controls his grandfather's estate, was further impressed by Payne speaking Elvish and quoting the late author in their initial conversations.

Though it was a gamble to give McKay and Payne the keys to a show that has reportedly cost Amazon $715 million for the first season alone, so far it appears to have paid off.

Amazon says "The Rings of Power" premiere drew 25 million viewers around the world during its first 24 hours, though it is unclear what metric Amazon uses to measure views.

"The Rings of Power" releases episodes every Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on Prime Video.

Sign up now: Get smarter about your money and career with our weekly newsletter

Don't miss: Jeff Bezos reveals warning from his son for Amazon's 'Lord of the Rings' show—'Don't eff this up'

Copyright CNBC
Contact Us