Amazon’s Lord of the Rings (developed by J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay) and Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop (written by Christopher Yost) will be among 7 projects that have been granted border exemption by the New Zealand government, per Deadline. This means that the casts and crews of the shows will be allowed inside the country whether or not they are citizens in order to begin production on their respective projects. This announcement comes during the coronavirus pandemic, in which international travel is very restricted to decrease the potential of spreading the virus.
The other productions that have been granted border exemption in New Zealand are Netflix’s Sweet Tooth (produced by Robert Downey Jr.), director Peter Farrelly’s Greatest Beer Run, and Power Rangers Beast Morphers (created by Haim Saban), James Cameron’s Avatar sequels, and Netflix film The Power of Dog (produced by Jane Campion). It is projected that other productions will also receive border exemptions from New Zealand in the coming months.
According to New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE), New Zealand will allow a total of “206 film workers, along with 35 family members” into the country for the 7 productions already approved (Stuff). It is unclear how many more people they will allow into New Zealand when more productions are approved for a border exemption.
A New York Times graphic that tracks global coronavirus cases says that there have been “few or no cases in the past two weeks” in New Zealand, suggesting that the risk of contracting the coronavirus there is relatively low. Nevertheless, New Zealand is taking some precautions when inviting foreign film crews.
Lord of the Rings is based off of both the book series and the movie trilogy under the same name. The first two episodes will be directed by J. A. Bayona (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, The Orpahange). Cowboy Bebop is a live-action Netflix adaptation of the 1998 anime series under the same name. The original Cowboy Bebop ran for one season and can be found on Hulu. The showrunners have so far casted John Cho (Harold & Kumar Go to Whitecastle, Searching) , Mustafa Shakir (Brawl in Cell Block 99, Luke Cage), Daniella Pineda (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, The Vampir Diaries), and Alex Hassell (Two Down, Suburbicon).