Amazon moves Lord of the Rings Season 2 from New Zealand to UK
Amazon is relocating to the UK from New Zealand for Season 2 of its The Lord of the Rings TV series.
The epic drama brings to screens for the very first time JRR Tolkien’s fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history. Beginning in a time of relative peace, thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings books, the series follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth.
The series is led by showrunners and executive producers J.D. Payne & Patrick McKay; they are joined by executive producers Lindsey Weber, Callum Greene, J.A. Bayona, Belén Atienza, Justin Doble, Jason Cahill, Gennifer Hutchison, Bruce Richmond, and Sharon Tal Yguado, co-executive producer Wayne Che Yip, director Charlotte Brändström, and producer Christopher Newman.
In front of the camera are Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Robert Aramayo, Owain Arthur, Maxim Baldry, Nazanin Boniadi, Morfydd Clark, Ismael Cruz Córdova, Charles Edwards, Trystan Gravelle, Sir Lenny Henry, Ema Horvath, Markella Kavenagh, Joseph Mawle, Tyroe Muhafidin, Sophia Nomvete, Lloyd Owen, Megan Richards, Dylan Smith, Charlie Vickers, Leon Wadham, Benjamin Walker, Daniel Weyman and Sara Zwangobani.
Filming on Season 1 wrapped this month and will premiere on 2nd September 2022.
Amazon is already looking ahead to Season 2, though, with pre-production to begin in January 2022, at the same time as post-production continues on Season 1. Season 2, however, will be based in the UK, with the sets built for the show shipped across to the country.
The move is at once a surprise and a homecoming, with Peter Jackson’s film trilogy based on the books using New Zealand’s landscapes to bring Middle-earth to life and Tolkein originally basing the landscape of the Shire on England’s countryside.
In 2019, Amazon ordered a hiatus on Season 1 to plan out efficient ways to prepare for Season 2 filming, by capturing some footage at the same time or even filming two seasons back-to-back. In 2020, though, the production was impacted, like other TV shows and movies, by the coronavirus pandemic. With New Zealand strictly controlling its borders to prevent the spread of the pandemic, the cast of the show were in the country for approximately two years, unable to visit and spend time with their families, while Amazon’s executives will also unable to travel into the country to visit the shoot, which was based in Auckland
As well as enabling cast and crew to stay close to home, moving to the UK will open up the possibility of filming in other European locations, such as Ireland, Malta or Iceland, all of which were used by Game of Thrones. The first season, with a reported budget of around $465 million, qualified for 20 per cent tax rebate from New Zealand’s Screen Production Grant, which rose to 25 per cent this year. Amazon, however, will not pursue that additional 5 per cent.
“We want to thank the people and the government of New Zealand for their hospitality and dedication and for providing The Lord of the Rings series with an incredible place to begin this epic journey,” said Vernon Sanders, VP and Co-Head of TV, Amazon Studios, in a statement. “We are grateful to the New Zealand Film Commission, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Tourism New Zealand, Auckland Unlimited, and others for their tremendous collaboration that supported the New Zealand film sector and the local economy during the production of Season One.”