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Amazon’s new Lord of the Rings television series is laying down roots in New Zealand.
The upcoming show, based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy novels, has already started preproduction in the country that was also home to the feature films. Production in Auckland is expected to begin in the coming months.
Landing the expensive streaming series represents a significant win for New Zealand. Not only did Amazon pay around $250 million for the global rights to the property, insiders have estimated that the total spend for the project could hit $1 billion, once production budgets, visual effects and the cast and creative teams are accounted for.
“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 and executive producers J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay said Tuesday in a statement. “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.”
Added the pair: “We are grateful to the people and the government of New Zealand and especially Auckland for supporting us during this preproduction 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.”
Set in Middle-earth, the TV adaptation of the iconic property will explore new storylines preceding Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring. The theatrical adaptations, directed by Peter Jackson, earned a combined gross of nearly $6 billion worldwide and garnered a combined 17 Academy Awards, including a best picture Oscar.
The new series will see J.A. Bayona (Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom) direct the first two episodes and also serve as executive producer, alongside his partner Belén Atienza. Other exec producers include Lindsey Weber (10 Cloverfield Lane), Bruce Richmond (Game of Thrones), Gene Kelly (Boardwalk Empire), Sharon Tal Yguado, Gennifer Hutchison (Breaking Bad), Jason Cahill (The Sopranos) and Justin Doble (Stranger Things).
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