Middle-earth will return to New Zealand as Amazon Studios confirmed that it will shoot the new Lord of the Rings television series there.
New Zealand - where Peter Jackson filmed the original Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies - is reprising its role as the backdrop for the fantasy epic, based on J.R.R. Tolkien's novels. Amazon Studios revealed this week that it will shoot the Lord of the Rings TV series in the North Island with production expected to begin at three sites across Auckland in the coming months. Wellington had been considered as a possible location but studio space is limited at the moment with director James Cameron currently filming his four Avatar sequels there.
READ MORE: How to get to Middle-earth
Set to be the most expensive TV series ever made (with a budget of NZ$1.3bn/£660m), the Lord of the Rings TV series will chronicle events that preceded the The Fellowship of the Ring, so viewers will be treated to new storylines rather than a rehashing of the one adapted for the movie trilogy. Variety reported earlier this month that Black Mirror actor Will Poulter will star in the show, alongside Australian actress Markella Kavenagh. Pre-production has just started but the series is not expected to hit Amazon's streaming service until 2021.
"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," showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay said in a statement. "And we’re happy that we are now able to officially confirm New Zealand as our home for our series based on stories from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.”
They added: "we are grateful to the people and the government of New Zealand and especially Auckland for supporting us during this pre-production phase. The abundant measure of Kiwi hospitality with which they have welcomed us has already made us feel right at home, and we are looking forward to deepening our partnership in the years to come."
The series is likely to renew interest in attractions like Hobbiton Movie Set and Farm Tours. Located in the rolling hills near Matamata, and half-owned by Peter Jackson, this is where large parts of the Rings and the Hobbit films were shot. It's unclear yet though if the set will be used in the TV series. Jackson himself won't be working on the show but he has hinted that he may help out with scripts.