Written by Shona Smith on Aug 16, 2021. Posted in Production News

Lord of the Rings Series moves series 2 production to UK

Amazon Studios are moving production of the epic Game of Thrones-style series from New Zealand to the UK. The move is in line with the streamer’s strategy of expanding production space and consolidating its footprint in the UK. Production is expected to start in June 2022.

Amazon paid GBP250 million for the TV rights and GBP336.5 million has been spent on production of the first season of the show. Four more seasons of the show are expected to be made.

During 2020 Amazon Studios production brought in around NZ$650million and employed nearly 2000 New Zealanders. Not only would the series bring in production work, but a new wave of international tourism, branding and promotion of the country as middle earth. Between 2001 and 2006 when the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings Trilogy were released New Zealand saw a 40% rise in tourists annually.

Post-production on season one will continue in New Zealand until June 2022 and Amazon Studio have confirmed that they will continue to explore and invest in New Zealand.

Set thousands of years before Tolkien’s books Scotland and New Zealand were reported front runners to secure the first series of the production. Amazon made the decision to film the series in New Zealand, where every middle-earth production has been filmed to date.

Vernon Sanders, vice president and co-head of TV at Amazon Studios thanked "the people and the government of New Zealand for their hospitality and dedication and for providing The Lord of the Rings series with an incredible place to begin this epic journey."

Amazon had qualified for the 5% uplift on New Zealand’s 20% Screen Production Grant for International Productions. To date only five productions have received the uplift: Ghost in the Shell, The Meg, Mortal Engines, Pete’s Dragon and Power Rangers Dino Charge. Amazon said it would not "actively pursue" the additional 5% subsidy it had been granted.

New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) CEO David Strong acknowledged the impact on New Zealand cast and crew who worked on the series and in particular their dedication to excellence. “It’s a shame and I feel for everyone who has put their hearts into this production. Season two was expected to begin later in 2022, so our role now is to work hard to keep the Kiwi screen sector employed.”

Strong said their departure opens the door wider to others to come in and that the NZFC continues to work closely with the Government on assisting these productions.  “Other internationals have interest in shooting here, and that is an acknowledgement of our strengths.

We’re an easy country to do business in and New Zealanders have a reputation for being highly skilled, innovative and creative. Our locations are legendary, and we have competitive incentives and infrastructure. This coupled with the Government’s management of the COVID-19 pandemic positions us as an attractive partner for international productions.”

New Zealand has completed post-production work on Black Widow and Godzilla vs Kong, physical production on TV series Sweet Tooth and upcoming releases Avatar 2 and Cowboy Bebop.

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