Coronavirus: Amazon's 'Lord of the Rings' Shuts Down Production in New Zealand

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Still 2001 - Photofest - H 2017

Production staff, reportedly numbering 800, have been stood down from Monday after the country closed its borders March 13 in the strongest response to the spread of the coronavirus by any country worldwide.

Production on Amazon’s $1 billion Lord of the Rings series in New Zealand has been suspended for two weeks as the country grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, with staff told "there are no clear answers to when we will resume."

The New Zealand Herald published advice from producers GSR Productions sent to all cast and crew Sunday, which said: "In an abundance of caution, UAP [Untitled Amazon Project] has suspended production for the next two (2) weeks commencing Monday, March 16.”

"This is done in an environment where travel restrictions directed at the control of Covid-19 are issued daily by New Zealand and most other countries."

Cast and crew are due to received other details of the shutdown and associated procedures Monday. It did not say when production was expected to resume.

No one involved in the production is believed to have tested positive for the coronavirus but cast and crew were directed to "not report to the set or to the studio without the express permission of your supervisor."

The memo said the shutdown was being done to “minimise stress on the resources and infrastructures around us by doing our part to reduce population density in our communities and daily activities, in efforts to help reduce the spread of the virus."

“We will provide updates as we continue to evaluate trends and developments,” the memo said.

Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand, secured production of the streaming series with the New Zealand Film Commission kicking in subsidies worth a reported $151 million (NZ$250 million) under the NZ government's Screen Production Grant.

Before the coronavirus disruption, the series had been expected to begin streaming on Amazon Prime in 2021.