It looks highly likely that Amazon is working on developing the show, based on what has been reported and rumored. So given that, what worries or exites you most about Amazon being the network?
What worries Narg the most is the LotR’s deal Amazon did with the Tolkien estate. They not only paid an estimated $250 Million for just the rights, but they also committed to at least 5 season with each season estimated to have a budget of around $150M. Given the money involved there is no doubt that they expect this show to be their flagship over the next decade.
Amazon’s budget for original content though is in the billions each year, so $150M is still only a small slice of the overall pie, but will they be willing to invest the same amount in “The Wheel of Time”? If they don’t, will “Wheel of Time” come off looking like LotR’s poorer cousin? Narg used to think, WoT could get away with 5-7 Million per episode, but TV show budgets have been ballooning over the last few years and GoT’s final season is estimated to be up to $15M per episode. At a minimum WoT might need at least $10M per episode. Anything less and the visual production values might turn people off before the story can hook them.
Another question is, does Amazon actually want to have both shows on air? Could they have taken up the option to air WoT just to stop someone else from doing so? As far as we know Sony Pictures Television is still the production studio and one would assume there is some sort of use it or lose it clause as Sony only makes money if they actually produce something. How long that lasts for, could determine how long we have to wait before we find out if Amazon is actually going to Greenlight the show. They could just sit on it and let their option lapse.
Amazon could also be hedging their bets by doing both shows. While there is little doubt that the LotR’s spinoff show will attract viewers just on the name recognition alone, the question is, will it actually do more/be better than the average TV show? It’s unlikely any fantasy of Sci-fi show that follows GoT will be able to match it’s numbers. Westworld for example only had 3 million viewers for it’s season two premiere compared to 16 million for the finale episode of GoT last year. Would Amazon be happy with that given their huge upfront investment? Most likely not, but they’ll be stuck with it for at least 5 years and given that the content of the shows will be new material from new writers and not a direct adaptation of Tolkien’s own words, then there is a possibility that it could bomb big time after the initial excitement wears off. WoT on the other hand, assuming Rafe remains fairly faithful to the books, has a proven story line that has been proven to be both addictive and compelling. As long as the writers don’t go down the “Legend of the Seeker” or “Shannara” route and the production values are high, then there is a good chance that WoT could outperform the Middle Earth show and help offset a poorer than expected performance by it.
What excites Narg the most, is that assuming Amazon, don’t sit on the show or show favoritism, we should see “Wheel of Time” hit our screens before the Middle Earth based show. We know from Harriet, that a script has been done. Even if it’s just for the first episode and a season one outline, that’s still far ahead of where the LotR’s show is at. As far as we know they don’t even have a writer attached to the project yet. If Amazon greenlight the show anytime soon, it could also get out before the next wave of fantasy shows from other networks(Witcher, Kingkiller Chronicles), which will give it some room to nab an audience share before the field becomes overcrowded.
Anyways Narg has rambled long enough. Your turn