Sometimes, it’s instructive to consider what it actually means for a television show to be successful. For House of the Dragon, for example, “success” meant brushing the cobwebs off an already-profitable brand and putting Game of Thrones center-level again. For a Netflix show like The Sandman, it’s about drawing in new subscribers – that means second, third, or even fourth series become much less appealing to the streaming service than another new show (with a brand new potential fanbase), due to that emphasis on growth first and foremost. For a BBC One drama like Marriage, there’s a simpler metric: essential acclaim, strong viewing figures, popularity with audiences.
The Rings of Power – or, to provide the series its right Amazon-approved and Tolkien Estate-lawyer tested title, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power – is in a barely different spot. Obviously, the wide strokes of success remain in place. The fable prequel will, ideally, break out past the US streaming market; it’ll set off inactive Prime Video customers to return to the platform, and new ones to enroll in the first time. Hopefully, it’ll garner strong reviews, and be met with superb reception by the section of the audience not sent into flurries of panic on seeing a Black dwarf.
But Amazon Prime is in a different business to streaming services like Netflix and Apple TV+, or a public broadcaster just like the BBC. Fundamentally, it’s a retailer: the factor of The Rings of Power is as much to get a person to buy the Peter Jackson DVDs, a amassed version of Tolkien works, and perhaps a few early Christmas buying too as it is for someone to actually watch the show. (Hence, perhaps, why so a lot of its projects are adaptations, and why so a lot of its originals locate themselves cancelled.) This first series cost $715 million alone, and it’s thought that if The Rings of Power continues to for its planned 5 seasons, that charge tag will exceed a billion dollars – it’s the most expensive tv show/Amazon Prime ad ever, however it doesn’t even represent a single per cent of the wider company’s 2021 revenue.
So, the conditions for economic success of The Rings of Power exist of their very own context. (Both for the wider enterprise and the production team: a second series is already underway, albeit admittedly set save money by filming withinside the UK rather than returning to New Zealand.) Instead, it’s searching usually for a cultural fulfillment – both because it’s a vanity/passion challenge for Jeff Bezos, seemingly an avowed Tolkien fan himself, and due to the fact Amazon Prime Video has but to ever have one in every of its originals meaningfully spoil thru into the zeitgeist.
That’s a tall order for any collection, but especially so for one that’s unavoidably going to be in comparison to an current and already clearly iconic trilogy of Middle Earth films. (There’s every other wrinkle in “what does success mean?” – The Rings of Power is trying to walk a difficult line, evoking the Peter Jackson films for the audiences who love them, while still remaining legally and aesthetically wonderful from them on the behest of the Tolkien property who famously did not care for Jackson’s take.) What does it clearly suggest for The Rings of Power to face on its very own? Is that even desirable? Will it only ever appeal to the dedicated hardcore
can it escape amongst a much wider audience?
Perhaps unsurprisingly – it is, lest we forget, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power – this isn’t a chain that appears especially involved with standing on its very own. Eventually, it’s going to chart the activities that cause the forging of the One Ring, however you wouldn’t always understand that immediately: the first episodes are pretty leisurely paced chessboard episodes, involved specially with putting in the portions and taking part in the time it takes to do so. This, clearly, was not a production where hours of storytelling were thought of as being a quarter of the show, but a prologue to something that might span fifty hours – it’s deeply indulgent, with both the strengths and weaknesses that implies.