Amazon Studios has revealed that the production of the upcoming Lord of the Rings television series will be relocated from New Zealand to the United Kingdom.
The yet-untitled fantasy epic takes place thousands of years before JRR Tolkien’s writings The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. It’s a big setback for the entertainment business in New Zealand, where award-winning films were also shot.
Oliver Dowden, the UK’s cultural secretary, applauded the decision.” The Lord of the Rings television series will create and support tens of thousands of high-quality jobs across the United Kingdom,” he stated.
Amazon Studios has been requested for comment on whether financial subsidies have been provided to shift production to the UK by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Treasury.
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Amazon Studios, the company’s film, and television division, has already spent $465 million (£336.5 million) on the first season of the show.
The move was part of a goal to expand its production space and consolidate its footprint in the UK, according to the company. The first season of the show will wrap filming in New Zealand in September 2022 and will premiere on Amazon Prime. After then, production will transfer to the United Kingdom, where four more seasons of the show are planned to be produced.
Stuart Nash, New Zealand’s economic development minister, expressed disappointment with the decision. The New Zealand government gave Amazon Studios more production incentives in April. Before the government added an extra 5%, Amazon was already getting a 20% reimbursement on its expenses for filming The Lord of the Rings series in New Zealand.
Mr. Nash claimed at the time that the arrangement with Amazon will “allow a fresh wave of worldwide tourism branding and promotion for this country” by creating “local jobs and creating work for local businesses.”Mr. Nash said the film industry in New Zealand was “extremely competitive and highly mobile” when asked about the decision to transfer production there.
“We have no regrets about putting our best effort into this production with government funding,” he said.
Amazon announced that it will not “actively seek” the additional 5% subsidy it had been offered.
“The people and the government of New Zealand for their hospitality and dedication, and for providing The Lord of the Rings series with an amazing venue to begin this epic journey,” said Vernon Sanders, vice president and co-head of the TV at Amazon Studios.
The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film trilogies, directed by Oscar winner Peter Jackson, were shot in New Zealand’s stunning landscapes. The Fellowship of the Ring, the first Lord of the Rings film, was released in December 2001, and the third and final instalment in the trilogy was released in 2003.
The films’ popularity aided in the promotion of New Zealand’s tourism economy. According to research, annual visits to the country increased by 40% from 1.7 million to 2.4 million between 2001 and 2006.