On Thursday, Variety reported that Amazon’s upcoming, untitled The Lord of the Rings series will move its production from New Zealand to the United Kingdom for future seasons. The first season will remain in post-production in New Zealand until June 2022, at which point the transition to the U.K. will begin.
‘Lord of the Rings’ Amazon Series Moves Production From New Zealand to U.K. for Season 2 https://t.co/p1ycgzFLdp
— Variety (@Variety) August 12, 2021
CNN provided Amazon’s statement on the move: “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.”
While Variety remarks that Amazon’s reasoning makes sense, given the U.K. home base of many of their productions, the announcement blindsided The Lord of the Rings fans. Though J.R.R. Tolkien’s (The Fellowship of the Ring, The Hobbit) Middle Earth may be a work of fiction, New Zealand has always been seen as the property’s terrestrial home. All modern live-action adaptations of Tolkien’s world have been produced in New Zealand, providing a boon for the local economy and providing an additional tourist attraction for The Lord of the Rings fans in Hobbiton.
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Fans are not the only ones disappointed in Amazon’s decision, with New Zealand’s Economic Development Minister, Stuart Nash, commenting: “the Amazon Studios’ decision in no way reflects the capabilities of our local film industry or the talents of the people who work in it. This is a multinational company that has made a commercial choice” (CNN).
As Amazon’s untitled The Lord of the Rings series is set to be one of the most expensive television projects ever produced and has already been confirmed for a second season, the streamer’s decision marks a monumental financial loss for New Zealand’s film industry. According to CNN, Nash informed “that following the decision to relocate production, the government would pull some financial incentives that had been awarded to Amazon.”
Star of the original The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, Elijah Wood (Wilfred, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency), communicated his thoughts on Thursday’s news with a simple face-palm emoji on Twitter.
— Elijah Wood (@elijahwood) August 12, 2021
Earlier this month, Amazon unveiled a September 2, 2022 date for the highly anticipated series. While specific details on the series thus far remain sparse, Amazon boasts a massive ensemble cast and provides the setting as “during the so-called Second Age, thousands of years prior to the events of both The Lord of the Rings books and The Hobbit” (Variety).
While Amazon’s untitled The Lord of the Rings project makes its unexpected journey out of New Zealand, Netflix remains in the country for their live-action production of anime Cowboy Bebop, which wrapped principle production in March.