You have to give Amazon credit for ambition. This "Lord of the Rings" series could truly be The One Thing to Rule Them All -- Especially Netflix.

The Hollywood Reporter just dished more on the incredible plans for what will surely be the most expensive TV show ever.

Amazon Studios beat Netflix for the $250 million rights deal from the Tolkien estate. According to terms of the agreement, Amazon must be in production within two years.

That may sound like a long time, but the deal includes a five-season commitment and includes a provision for a possible spinoff. Think of how much planning has to be done before they get started, knowing they are setting the foundation for a potential five-plus-year project. You don't want to wing that kind of thing.

As THR added:

"When production expenses like casting, producers and visual effects are factored in, the series is expected to cost north of $1 billion."

Read THR's report for more details. It'll be interesting to see the cast for this prequel project, whatever story angle they choose to take.

One interesting note says "Amazon may use material from the films" in the series. Since this is meant to be set before "Fellowship of the Ring," they must mean the "Hobbit" movies. Or maybe footage leading up to "Fellowship."

76th Annual Academy Awards - PressroomFilm director Peter Jackson may or may not get involved as an executive producer; they said it's up to him. He can't be happy about the series using his material, though, right?

Last we heard, from a Reuters report of Amazon's internal numbers, they were saying it would cost about $500 million or more for two seasons. That would suggest $1 billion for four, and even more for five -- not to mention a possible spinoff.

If this fails, you still have to give them props for going all-in. If it succeeds, this could be what separates Amazon from the streaming pack and keeps it ahead.

Add to all of this Disney's new streaming service, expected to arrive in 2019 and be cheaper than Netflix. (Everyone is still looking to Netflix as the one to beat, for now.) So we have Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Disney, plus myriad other SVOD options. Which ones are viewers going to be willing to pay for each month, or on an individual basis? What will keep their loyalty?

So far, this LOTR project has not announced any casting or production dates. But since they are on a two-year deadline to start what might be a five-plus-year project, you can be sure they are hard at work figuring it out.

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