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Amazon returns Lord of the Rings to NZ

Peter Jackson shot his Lord of the Rings trilogy almost entirely in New Zealand

Amazon Studios has confirmed that New Zealand will once again stand in for Middle-earth, as the country has been chosen as the location for its The Lord of the Rings series.

The adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s fantasy novels will explore new storylines preceding The Fellowship of the Ring, the first instalment of the saga. The series is currently in pre-production and cameras will start rolling in Auckland in the coming months.

The showrunners are JD Payne and Patrick McKay, who will also serve as executive producers alongside Lindsey Weber, Bruce Richmond, Gene Kelly, Sharon Tal Yguado, Gennifer Hutchison, Jason Cahill, Justin Doble, Belén Atienza and JA Bayona, who will also direct the first two episodes.

Payne and McKay commented: “As we searched for the location in which we could bring to life the primordial beauty of the Second Age of Middle-earth, 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. And we’re happy that we are now able to officially confirm New Zealand as our home for our series.”

New Zealand was previously the primary filming location for Peter Jackson’s trilogy of films based on the novels, released between 2001 and 2003.

Amazon spent a reported US$250m on the rights to adapt the fantasy novels for television in 2017 as part of a frantic content grab by the big global streaming players.

Competition has only increased since with the forthcoming launches of Disney+, WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, Apple TV+ and newly named Peacock from NBCUniversal.

Headline-grabbing content acquisitions by the platforms this week included Netflix paying over US$500m for the Seinfeld back catalogue, and a similarly hefty sum paid by HBO Max for all 12 seasons of The Big Bang Theory.

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