Amazon’s TV and film division is set to shift its Lord of the Rings series production to the UK from New Zealand in a major boost for the country’s booming creative sector.
The move marks an upbeat investment in the UK’s television industry, with Amazon Studios having already injected around $465m (£336m) into the first season of the show.
The ecommerce and technology giant said the move was part of a plan to expand its production space and consolidate its footprint in the UK.
The not-yet-named show is anticipated to have at least four more seasons made – which, if Amazon keeps up its current rate of investment, could make the show one of the most expensive in history.
The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movie trilogies were both filmed in New Zealand, with the country’s sweeping landscapes lending itself to the fantasy genre.
The first season of the upcoming Lord of the Rings-based series will be set where the previous films were set, before making the move over to the UK.
The New Zealand government said it was informed of the move yesterday and was disappointed with the decision.
“I am enormously proud of the New Zealand screen sector. The Amazon Studios’ decision in no way reflects the capabilities of our local film industry or the talents of the people who work in it,” said economic development minister Stuart Nash.
Nash said an extra five per cent incentive offered by New Zealand’s Screen Production Grant in addition to a 20 per cent grant the production already qualifies for would be withdrawn. Amazon said it would not pursue the five per cent financial uplift.
Filming is currently underway for the first series of The Lord of the Rings, which is scheduled to be released in September 2022.
Amazon has said the first series will be available in more than 240 countries, with new episodes released weekly.
The saga will be set thousands of years before the events narrated by author JRR Tolkien in his books.
The production shift is the latest show of confidence in the UK’s film industry as film and TV makers rush to make new content amid a streaming-led boom.
A string of major film studio projects have recently been announced, including a Blackstone-backed £700m studio complex in Hertfordshire and a major new hub in Dagenham.