Amazon to shift second season of ‘Lord of the Rings’ filming to the UK from NZ

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Amazon Studios will film the second season of its “Lord of the Rings” series in the UK, shifting the production base from New Zealand, where the popular movie adaptations of the fantasy novels were shot.

Post-production of the first season will continue in New Zealand through next June, the company said on Thursday. The show, which cost some $465 million for the first season alone, according to the Hollywood Reporter, is scheduled to premiere on Amazon’s streaming platform Prime Video in September 2022.

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While the company said the shift aligns with its strategy of expanding its production footprint across the UK, industry publication Deadline reported that New Zealand’s strict border closures during the pandemic kept British cast members from returning home for close to two years. The lockdown also prevented Amazon executives from visiting the sets to monitor shooting, the media outlet said.

In September 2019, when Amazon announced New Zealand as the production site for the show, it praised the country’s abundant “hospitality, and said it looked forward to deepening their partnership. New Zealand’s government is disappointed with the studio’s decision to move filming elsewhere, Economic Development Minister Stuart Nash said in a statement on Friday.

New Zealand, which saw a tourism boom after the first film of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy was released in 2001, attached great importance to Amazon’s series, agreeing to grant an extra 5 percent on top of the standard 20 percent rebate incentive for production budgets. That extra rebate will be withdrawn. Still, for the first season Amazon Studios is potentially eligible for a NZD$132 million ($92 million) rebate, Nash said.

“I am enormously proud of the New Zealand screen sector,” Nash said. “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.”

Amazon Studios’ move highlights the dilemma the film industry faces during the prolonged pandemic, which has delayed works on many Hollywood productions as international travel remains difficult.

Read more: Welcome to Orcland: ‘Lord of the Rings’ Amazon TV series to film in New Zealand

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