New Zealand loses its precious “Lord of the Rings” series to the UK


Wellington, New Zealand — New Zealand has long been associated with The Lord of the Rings, but the sudden deprivation of filming of a major new television series has made the country more like Mordor than The Shire for hundreds of workers. became.

Amazon Studios announced on Friday that it would hit the small but vibrant screen industry in the United States and shoot the second season of the original series, inspired by JRR Tolkien’s book, in the United Kingdom.

“The move from New Zealand to the UK is in line with the studio’s strategy of expanding its production footprint and investing in studio space throughout the UK, and many of Amazon Studios’ tentpole series and films have already called the UK home. “We are,” the company said. statement.

This move has hit many in New Zealand. According to government statistics, the film is one of the most expensive in history, with Amazon spending at least $ 465 million in its first season and just finished filming in New Zealand.

According to numbers, the series employed 1,200 people directly and 700 indirectly in New Zealand.

“This is a shock to everyone,” said Dennis Roche, director of Equity NZ, a union that represents performers. “I really feel all the small businesses, the technicians who invested in this for the future. No one was drinking ink.”

Roche added that the industry is resilient, but said people feel disappointed with Amazon.

Amazon said an untitled series will take place in Middle-earth during the Second Age. It was thousands of years before the events depicted in Tolkien’s “Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” books and Peter Jackson’s subsequent films.

Shooting began last year, but was delayed due to the coronavirus. Post-production for the first season will continue until June in New Zealand, with the show premiering on Prime Video next September.

The move to the UK will take place just four months after Amazon signs a contract with the New Zealand Government to win a 20% ($ 92 million) and an additional 5% rebate. This had already been claimed by New Zealand taxpayers under a screen production grant.

Many parts of the world are competing for production by offering similar generous rebates.

At the time of the deal, New Zealand’s Minister of Economic Development Stuart Nash said the production would bring economic and tourism benefits to the country over the next few years, creating a “permanent legacy for our screen industry.” rice field.

Mr Nash said Friday that the government knew that Amazon was leaving just a day ago, and he was disappointed with the decision. He said the government was withdrawing an additional 5 percent of the offer.

Amazon said it would no longer pursue collecting extra money. However, New Zealand taxpayers will still pay at least $ 92 million.

“The international film sector is very competitive and mobile. I don’t regret giving the film the best shot with government support,” Nash said. “But we are disappointed with the local screen industry.”

New Zealand has become synonymous with the world of Tolkien’s orcs, elves and hobbits after Jackson directed six films in South Pacific countries. The “Lord of the Rings” trilogy and the “Hobbit” trilogy together generate box office revenues of nearly $ 6 billion.

When Amazon Studios first announced its shoot in New Zealand, it said that pristine beaches, forests and mountains were the perfect place to bring the pristine beauty of early Middle-earth to life.

Large ensemble casts include Cynthia Addai Robinson, Morphid Clark, Ismael Cruz Cordova, Sophia Nomvete, and Lloyd Owen.

Nick perry

Associated Press