The Atlantic

Why Amazon Just Spent a Fortune to Turn Lord of the Rings Into TV

There is no “Moneyball” for media. In entertainment, overkill is underrated.
Source: bandita / Flickr

Amazon has acquired the television rights to J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy series The Lord of the Rings. With this deal, which industry publications estimate at being worth $250 million, Amazon can use the classic Middle-earth mythology as a canvas for several different TV shows, including backstories of beloved characters like Aragorn.

The gargantuan deal is perhaps the most important event in the history of Amazon’s television business. It carries major implications for the streaming wars with Netflix, Hulu, and (soon) Disney, as well as critical lessons for business strategy in an age of content abundance.

First, the deal signals an abrupt turn for Amazon. Five years ago, and , the company’s slate is full of minor hits, like , and a lot of outs. Complicating matters, in October, the company’s head of film and television, Roy Price, quit amid several allegations of sexual harassment.

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic5 min read
Living In California Is Living On The Edge
For residents, the recent earthquakes are a reminder that the state is always poised on the brink of disaster.
The Atlantic3 min readPolitics
Qatar Responds: Don’t Cancel the 2022 World Cup
The tournament’s host country pushes back on Franklin Foer’s proposal that FIFA change course and reallocate funds to women’s soccer.
The Atlantic6 min readPolitics
Malta’s Fledgling Movement for Abortion Rights
The country is the only one in Europe that outright bans abortion, but public perception is slowly shifting.