Dragons against hobbits

“Game of Thrones” v “Lord of the Rings”: a tale of old v new Hollywood

A century-old studio wages a big-budget war against a streaming upstart

HALF A BILLION dollars’ worth of swordplay, sorcery and sex is on its way to a small screen near you. On August 21st Warner Bros Discovery launched “House of the Dragon”, a spin-off from its racy smash-hit, “Game of Thrones”, made at a reported cost of over $150m. Hot on its heels, on September 1st Amazon Prime Video will release “The Rings of Power”, a more chaste but pricier drama based on the “Lord of the Rings” books. With a rumoured pricetag of $465m, Amazon’s offering will be the most expensive piece of television ever made.

This will make for an epic ratings battle. But it is also part of a longer-running war that pits old Hollywood studios against new streaming upstarts. Warner Bros will celebrate its 100th birthday next year. Amazon, which makes its money from e-commerce and cloud computing, launched its video sideline only five years ago. As the streaming wars intensify, each side believes it has the advantage.

Lately the dragons of old Hollywood have gained ground. Investors flocked to streaming specialists during lockdowns, but have lost interest as new subscribers have dried up.…