Amazon Studios has set New Zealand as the location for its upcoming series production of “The Lord of the Rings,” following in the footsteps of the movies made by Peter Jackson. Pre-production on the series has started, and production on the series will begin in Auckland in the coming months.
“We knew we needed to find somewhere majestic, with pristine coasts, forests, and mountains, that also is a home to world-class sets, studios, and highly skilled and experienced craftspeople and other staff,” said showrunners and executive producers J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay.
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The three hit “Lord of the Rings” films helmed by Jackson, himself a Kiwi, were largely shot in New Zealand, and some of the locations have since become tourist attractions. Produced by New Line Cinema, the movie trilogy based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy cycle earned nearly $6 billion worldwide and garnered a combined 17 Academy Awards.
The new TV series will be produced by Amazon Studios in cooperation with the Tolkien Estate and Trust, HarperCollins, and New Line, a division of Warner Bros. Entertainment.
“The scale of Amazon Studios’ series, based on ‘The Lord of the Rings,’ will create significant economic benefits and employment opportunities,” said Kerry Prendergast, chair of the New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC). “The New Zealand Film Commission, along with the broader industry and New Zealand partners, welcome the opportunities Amazon Studios will bring.”
NZFC chief executive Annabelle Sheehan said that the series will employ vendors from across New Zealand, and include location shooting in several regions. The main production base will be in Auckland, on the North Island.
Little is known about the plot of the “Lord of the Rings” series beyond the fact that it will explore new storylines preceding Tolkien’s “The Fellowship of the Ring.” The show’s official Twitter account sent out an image of a map, along with the two messages: “One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them, In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie,” as well as “Welcome to the Second Age.” In Tolkien’s mythology, the Second Age was the time during which the Rings of Power, including Sauron’s One Ring, came into existence.
J.A. Bayona (“The Orphanage,” “Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom”) will direct the first two episodes and serve as executive producer, alongside his partner Belen Atienza. Executive producers are Lindsey Weber ( “10 Cloverfield Lane”), Bruce Richmond (“Game of Thrones”), Gene Kelly (“Boardwalk Empire”), Sharon Tal Yguado, Gennifer Hutchison (“Breaking Bad”), Jason Cahill (“The Sopranos”), and Justin Doble (“Stranger Things”).
To date, Variety has revealed that the cast includes Australian actress Markella Kavenagh and British actor Will Poulter (“Black Mirror: Bandersnatch,” “The Maze Runner”).