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An Unexpected Move

‘The Lord of the Rings’ series season 2 to film in the UK instead of New Zealand

By Kara Santos Published Aug 16, 2021 6:32 pm

Middle-Earth is officially moving from New Zealand to the United Kingdom.

The Lord of the Rings series on Amazon Studios will be filming its second season in the UK rather than New Zealand, where shooting on the first season recently wrapped.

Amazon Studios announced the unexpected move in a statement on Friday (August 13), in what is seen to be a huge blow to New Zealand’s film industry. 

“The shift from New Zealand to the UK aligns with the studio’s strategy of expanding its production footprint and investing in studio space across the UK, with many of Amazon Studios’ tentpole series and films already calling the UK home,” said Amazon Studios.

The announcement marks the first time a production based on the epic-fantasy books will not be filmed in New Zealand, where Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson shot his The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film trilogies.

Aside from offering one of the most generous location incentive schemes in the world, New Zealand is also home to the multi-Oscar-winning post-production and digital effects firm Weta Digital and props maker Weta Workshop. 

The country has also built location-based entertainment assets, including the Hobbiton movie set tour, and various location tours built around Tolkien books and films.

As reported by Variety, government figures published in April show that Amazon was estimated to be spending about NZ$650 million ($455 million) on season one—making it one of the most expensive productions in history. It would have been eligible for a rebate of about NZ$162 million ($114 million), the government said, though it later reduced that figure.

Filming of the first season which started in April 2020 and ran for 18 months, including a hiatus enforced by the COVID-19 pandemic, employed 1,200 people in New Zealand directly and a further 700 indirectly.

Amazon Studios will reportedly continue post-production work on the first season in New Zealand till June 2022.

The series takes place on Middle-Earth during the Second Age, which is thousands of years before the events of Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings books.

“The series follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth,” said Amazon.

The series is slated to premiere on Amazon Prime Video in more than 240 countries and territories worldwide on September 2, 2022.

(Images via Amazon Studios)