WELLINGTON/SAN FRANCISCO - New Zealand will be home again to hairy feet and pointed-ear Hobbits after Amazon Studios confirmed the Pacific country will be the location for its new “The Lord of the Rings” series, a TV show widely tipped to be the most expensive ever made.
The Amazon.com Inc unit said the multi-series adaptation will explore new storylines preceding author J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Fellowship of the Ring”, the first instalment in the famed fantasy trilogy set in the fictional land of “Middle-earth”.
Amazon bought the TV rights to Tolkien’s literary classic two years ago when screens were ruled by HBO’s blockbuster fantasy series, “Game of Thrones”. Unlike HBO and others such as Netflix Inc, a hit for Amazon could not only draw in viewers but also shoppers to its Prime subscription service.
Three movies made of The Lord of the Rings trilogy in the early 2000s were filmed in New Zealand by director Peter Jackson. They garnered nearly $3 billion at the box office and 17 Academy Awards.
Pre-production for the series has started, and production on the series will begin in Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city, in the coming months, the statement showed.
Tolkien’s prequel to The Lord of the Rings, “The Hobbit”, was also made into a movie trilogy by Jackson in New Zealand.
However, production ran into disputes with unions in 2010 over labour contracts that nearly sent filming overseas and resulted in the government changing employment laws.
“This is a sought after production and fantastic news for New Zealand’s screen sector and our economy,” New Zealand’s Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford said in a separate statement.