Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy became a major cinematic moment for many reasons. Spot on casting and a heartfelt interpretation of the source material were definitely major factors, but the idyllic New Zealand landscapes helped create a world that many have tried to duplicate but none have mastered so well. As fans of J.R.R. Tolkien's work are getting new media to obsess over -- Amazon Studio's upcoming Lord of the Rings series -- Middle-earth is going to look quite different, as the second season will be coming production from New Zealand to the U.K.
The first season wrapped filming on August 2 after an 18-month shoot that was beset with pandemic delays and cost a historic $456 million. According to The Hollywood Reporter, this decision was largely economical, as Amazon has already invested large sums of money in studio space in the U.K., and will be shooting many other projects there, including Good Omens, Anansi Boys, Citadel, The Power, and The Rig.
However, according to insiders, the logistical challenges of shooting during a pandemic are also at play here. Over half of the cast is from the U.K., and people would have to quarantine for 14 days after returning to New Zealand, therefore limiting people's ability to leave and return to production. That being said, postproduction of season one will continue in New Zealand through June 2022, and preproduction of season 2 will begin in the U.K. early in 2022.
The loss of this major production will hit New Zealand hard, as it was a major source of revenue and tourism. "It's a shame and I feel for everyone who has put their hearts into this production. Season two was expected to begin later in 2022, so our role now is to work hard to keep the Kiwi screen sector employed," David Strong, CEO of the New Zealand Film Commission, said, reports Variety. Strong explained that the series" decision to leave "opens the door wider to others to come in" and that "the NZFC will continue to work closely with government on assisting these productions to shoot in the country."
The series, which has not yet announced an official name, will hit Amazon Prime on September 2, 2022. Very little is known about the project other than the fact that it will take place thousands of years before the events of The Lord of the Rings and will see Middle-earth during its Second Age. The first image was released on August 2, so it's officially time to start preparing to go there and back again.