Amazon was ready to exit New Zealand for the production of its epic “Lord of the Rings” TV show. Following the mass shooting that happened in March, the studio was looking to Scotland as its new location if New Zealand could not assure the safety of its cast and crew.
With a billion in the budget to produce “Lord of the Rings” TV show, New Zealand would have lost a lucrative opportunity for its workers. However, the government assured Amazon that the country remains a very safe place for its film crews.
According to reports, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern talked with Amazon boss Jeff Bezos over the phone last May. It was understood that New Zealand offered incentives to film crews shooting in the country.
“Ultimately it’s a rebate based on what is spent and therefore you could say it’s a rebate based on revenue and benefits to New Zealand’s economy as well,” Ardern said.
Pre-production of “Lord of the Rings” is apparently ongoing in the north and west areas. A planned studio in Queenstown will likely also be erected.
“This, being the largest television production in the world, is an incredible opportunity for New Zealand to basically become Middle Earth forever. I mean, this is it; this is the defining movement. New Zealand – love it or not – is going to be Middle Earth,” Economic Development Minister David Parker said.
“Amazon has a huge subscriber base globally so you couldn’t calculate the amount of exposure it’ll get and what it will do to our tourism industry. Whether or not we need those tourists is another question … but it’ll absolutely cement New Zealand as a tourist destination.”
Meanwhile, it’s still unclear which story “Lord of the Rings” will follow from Tolkien’s work. While it was confirmed that the show will not cover the same stories as the trilogy released in 2001 to 2003, there are still plenty of tales that the esteemed author has written about Middle Earth that could be translated on screen.
Amazon plans to release the first season of “Lord of the Rings” sometime in 2021.