Are 'blockbuster' TV shows EVER worth the money

TV blockbuster hits… or mega misses? As Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power opens to lukewarm reviews, the other multi-million pound shows that failed to impress – and the success stories that were worth every penny

  • The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power received lukewarm critical welcome 
  • Didn’t convinced viewers, in spite of being most costly series to be ever made 
  • Season eight of Game of Thrones was disappointing in spite of £90m budget 
  • But Stranger Things is a worldwide hit, with episode each costing £30m to make

It is the most expensive TV show ever made, but in spite of its eye-watering £851million budget, The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power received a mix reception from critics. 

The Amazon extravaganza’s rousing special effects and awe-inspiring action scenes were enough to impress some viewers. Others were less taken with it, including the Daily Mail’s Christopher Stevens, who dubbed it a ‘disaster dragon.’

It joins a line of other costly projects that didn’t quite hit the mark in spite of having millions pumped into their budgets by eager studio executives. 

The final seasons of fantasy series Game of Thrones was one of its costliest, with a reported price tag of £90million, yet it was plagued with technical issues, leading viewers to complain that most of the crucial fight scenes were shot too dark and were not watchable. 

Meanwhile, The Pacific mini-series, produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, and starring Rami Malek, was the most expensive show ever made when it was released on HBO in 2010, with a budget of £188million, but in spite of this colossal budget, the show only opened to an audience of 3.1million.

But sometimes, the gamble pays off.

Netflix might be losing subscribers left and right, but the fourth series of Stranger Things, which cost £233million to make, was watched by 287 million of viewers and became the platform’s second most-watched show ever. 

And the Star Wars-inspired show The Mandalorian, which costs a reported £104million per season, was one of the highlights of Disney+’s first year in 2019.

Here, FEMAIL looks at which of these TV projects crashed and burned, and the ones who made a killing. 

MULTI-MILLION POUND MISSES…. 

THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RINGS OF POWER

The Amazon extravaganza is touted as the most expensive TV show ever made, but its rousing special effects and action scenes did not stop it from being panned by some critics, including the Daily Mail’s Christopher Stevens, who dubbed it a ‘disaster dragon’ Pictured: Morfydd Clark as Galdriel

One of the villains in the upcoming Rings of Power Lord of the Ring prequel. The show is the most expensive in history 

The much awaited fantasy epic is set to launch today, and is Amazon’s biggest gamble to date, with close to a billion spent on visual effects, casting, costumes and location shoots. 

The show takes place more than 2000 years before the events of the Lord of the Rings’ Peter Jackson movies which were released in the 2000s, based on the works by JRR Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings trilogy – The Fellowship Of The Ring, The Two Towers and Return Of The King.

This new prequel will tell the story of how the Rings of Power, crafted by the dark lords Sauron, came to be.

Jeff Bezos’ empire has spared no expense on producing the extravaganza, with securing the rights to the material alone costing Amazon £250million.

Coming nearly 20 years after the last of the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings movie came out means this series has big shoes to fill

But coming nearly 20 years after the last of the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings movie came out means this series has big shoes to fill. 

The original trilogy began with The Fellowship of the Ring being released in December 2001 and finished with Return of the King in December, 2003, grossing a total box office revenue for all three films of £2,590bn. 

Most importantly, it is quoted as one of the most beloved trilogy of all time, with the Two Towers movie earning a 95 per cent metarate on Rotten Tomatoes. 

While it awaits to meet its fate with audiences, The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power is not off to a great start with critics, who had mixed reactions. 

The Daily Mail’s Christopher Stevens panned the fantasy series ahead of its release, writing it was ‘so staggeringly bad, it’s hilarious,’ and adding: ‘Everything about it is ill-judged to a spectacular extreme.’

Meanwhile, the BBC called it a ‘visually staggering, flawed epic,’ writing that the first two episodes of the series were ‘promising,’ but admonishing that ‘maybe promising is not enough when expectations are this high.’

And the Evening Standard noted that the show was ‘struggling to find its feet,’ but gave it an acceptable score of three out of five stars. 

THE PACIFIC

The Pacific, which aired on HBO in 2010, focused on the real-life events of a September 1944 battle opposing Japanese and American soldiers on the island of Peleliu and reportedly cost £188million to make 

If this one one doesn’t ring a bell, you’ll have to travel back in time to 2010, the year were Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks worked together on this costly World War II epic. 

The show, which aired on HBO at the time of its release, focused on the real-life events of a September 1944 battle opposing Japanese and American soldiers on the island of Peleliu. 

The ambitious mini-series, which came to be before the age of mass streaming, cost a reported £17.2million per episode to make, amounting to an overall budget of £188million. 

The grand budget was attributed to the attention both Hanks and Spielberg paid to perfect historical accuracy, the show’s special effects and a strong cast, which included Rami Malek, pictured

Critics noted some gory scenes, which were the epitome of shock value at the time, but would perhaps leave viewers cold in the post Game of Thrones and Squid Game era we live in

The grand budget was attributed to the attention both Hanks and Spielberg paid to perfect historical accuracy, the show’s special effects and a strong cast, which included Rami Malek. 

At the time of its release, the show was the most expensive series ever made, and was praised for its spectacular battle scenes. 

Critics noted some gory scenes, which were the epitome of shock value at the time, but would perhaps leave viewers cold in the post Game of Thrones and Squid Game era we live in. 

However, in spite of this colossal budget and heavy marketing campaigns, the show was not an immediate success with viewers, and open to an audience of 3.1million. 

GAME OF THRONES

It was also estimated that a whopping 44 million people, spread over 173 countries, watched each installment by the end of season 8 of Game of Thrones. The last series cost £90million to make, for six episodes (pictured: Kit Harington as Jon Snow and Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen)

With plenty of sex, violence and action to boot, the HBO fantasy show revolutionised TV when it came out in 2011, and it grew to become on the most expensive series of all time.

From the first episode on, viewers were immediately entranced by the dark fantasy universe created by George R. R. Martin, with 3.03million tuning in to watch the first series finale in the US alone. 

Its last season, which aired in 2019, and counted episode, ended with a finale watched by 19.3million in the US. 

It was also estimated that a whopping 44 million people, spread over 173 countries, watched each installment by the end of season 8

It was also estimated that a whopping 44 million people, spread over 173 countries, watched each installment by the end of season 8. 

The blockbuster series, which had been awaited for two years by rabid fans worldwide, is rumoured to have cost £90million, for only six episodes, making it the most expensive show to be made at the time. 

This expensive price tag did not save Game of Thrones from critics and audiences alike, who found the end of the fantasy epic to be lacking, both in style and in content. 

Viewers were disappointed with the anti-climatic revelation that Bran Stark was the one picked to sit on the Iron Throne instead of his half brother Jon Snow or Daenerys Targaryen, who had been fan favourites since the start of the show. 

The last season was also plagued with technical issues, including crucial battle scenes who were filmed without much light, leading viewers at home to complain they couldn’t see much of the action.  

THE BLOCKBUSTERS THAT WERE WORTH THE MONEY

STRANGER THINGS

Each of the latest series of Stranger Things’ nine episodes cost a reported £25.6million to make, amounting to £233million for the series overall (Finn Wolfhard as Mike and Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin in Stranger Things’ latest series)

The directing duo The Duffer Brothers went big on the latest series of Stranger Things, with a finale lasting 2h20 packed with costly special effects (pictured: Millie Bobbie Brown as Eleven)

Hawkins has come long way since Stranger Things debuted on Netflix in 2016, and the series budget has grown exponentially since its early days as well. 

The directing duo The Duffer Brothers went big on the last series, with a finale lasting 2h20 packed with costly special effects. 

Each of the latest series’ nine episodes cost a reported £25.6million to make, amounting to £233million for the series overall. 

In comparison, Bridgerton, one of the other Netflix hit shows of 2022, cost £7million per episode to make, not even a third of this the sci-fi favourite.   

Each of the latest series’ nine episode cost a reported £25.6million to make, amounting to £233million for the series overall

This costly gamble paid off, with Stranger Things 4 bringing in 287 million viewers since its release day in June, making it the second most watched show of the streaming platform, behind the gory and fascinating Squid Game. 

And the fourth series of the show also received good reviews overall, with a 88 per cent audience and critic score on Rotten Tomatoes. 

In comparison, the third series had a 89 per cent rating on the same platform, and the first season, which is the most beloved of the series, a 97 per cent.

Stranger Things shows no sign of stopping, with a reported budget for its fifth and last season set to equal what Netflix spent on series four. 

THE CROWN

The Crown’s fourth series alone, which aired in November 2020, is thought to have cost £112million, Pictured: Emma Corrin as Princess Diana in the fourth series of The Crown

After premiering in November 2016, The Crown, which was one of the first Netflix Original series along House of Cards, became one of the streaming platform’s glitziest hits. (pictured: Olivia Colman as The Queen in series four of The Crown)

After premiering in November 2016, The Crown, which was one of the first Netflix Original series along House of Cards, became one of the streaming platform’s glitziest hits. 

When the first season came out, it was rumoured to have cost £92million to make, which was denied by its creator Peter Morgan. 

The fourth series alone, which aired in November 2020, is thought to have cost £112million. 

And it is thought the fifth series, which will focus on the sour end of Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s marriage, is expected to be released in November this year, will have double the budget of £224million.

While it was always understood the show took artistic liberties with historical facts, its fourth series, which focused on the early years of the Prince of Wales and his first wife’s marriage, was plague with accusation of inaccuracies

It was also reported that The Crown, which is set to end after its sixth series, has got the go-ahead for five prequels, with a budget of £500million, meaning Netflix is to serve more lavish historical drama than ever. 

While it was always understood the show took artistic liberties with historical facts, its fourth series, which focused on the early years of the Prince of Wales and his first wife’s marriage, was plague with accusation of inaccuracies. 

The outrage was so strong that it led to a national debate on whether the show should come with a disclaimer that it is a work of fiction, something Netflix has said it won’t be doing for The Crown’s upcoming series. 

THE MANDALORIAN

Set in the colourful Star Wars universe, the Mandalorian was one of the highlights of Disney+’s first year in 2019 and reportedly cost £104million to make 

The space flic follows the events of the original Star Wars saga’s last installment Return of the Jedi, and stars Game of Thrones’ Pedro Pascal as Mandalorian bounty hunter named Din Djarin who rescues a baby belonging to the same species as Yoda

Set in the colourful Star Wars universe, the Mandalorian was one of the highlights of Disney+’s first year in 2019. 

It was also a risky gamble for Disney+, who poured £13million in each of the eight episode of the show’s first series, coming up to £104million overall. 

The space flic follows the events of the original Star Wars saga’s last installment Return of the Jedi, and stars Game of Thrones’ Pedro Pascal as Mandalorian bounty hunter named Din Djarin who rescues a baby belonging to the same species as Yoda. 

Baby Yoda, as it became known, was one of the series’ biggest selling points, and spawn even more revenue for Disney in merchandise

Baby Yoda, as it became known, was one of the series’ biggest selling points, and spawn even more revenue for Disney in merchandise. 

The show was also well-received among Disney fans, who gave it an overall 93 per cent score on Rotten Tomatoes.

It’s second series, which also aired in 2020, was equally praised and got the same overall rating, 

The show’s third season, which is set to hit the screens in February, 2023, is one of the platform’s most anticipated shows. 

HOUSE OF DRAGONS

The Game of Thrones prequel House of Dragons, which stars Matt Smith, pictured, cost a reported £172million to make, and an additional £86,4million in marketing

Those those who like their fantasy with a splash more of scandal, HBO has finally released the first season of its much talked about Game of Thrones prequel, House of Dragon. 

The epic, which stars Matt Smith, cost a reported £172million to make, and an additional £86,4million in marketing. 

In comparison, the last series of its predecessor, which counted only six episodes in total, cost an eye-watering £90million to produce. 

Much of that money went into the special effects of the show, which, as the title suggests, is all about showcasing the dragons that were so talked about in Game of Thrones, but seldom seen.  

In comparison, the last series of its predecessor, which counted only six episodes in total, cost an eye-watering £90million to produce 

So far, it seems like HBO’s gamble has paid off, with the series’ first episode having been watched by 20million eager viewers since its release last week

So far, it seems like HBO’s gamble has paid off, with the series’ first episode having been watched by 20million eager viewers since its release last week. 

This popularity right off the bat secured the renewal of the show for a second series after only one episode rare, a feat only a few can pretend to have achieved.  

It was a success with audiences and critics alike, with Christopher Stevens giving it a four out of five star rating, applauding its convincing graphics and modern treatment of women.  

Meanwhile, The Guardian touted the Game of Thrones’ prequel as ‘gorgeous, opulent television.’ 

Source: Read Full Article