The Lord of the Rings filming location

The country of New Zealand has become synonymous with The Lord of the Rings, thanks to its vast array of varied landscapes and evocative environments used in Peter Jackson’s two J.R.R. Tolkien-inspired trilogies over the past twenty years. Amazon has been cagey about where it would set up camp for its upcoming The Lord of the Rings prequel TV series, but this afternoon, the company has revealed that showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay have chosen to also use New Zealand as a stand-in for the fictional land of Middle-earth.

According to a press release, pre-production has already begun on the new show and production is set to begin in New Zealand’s capital city of Auckland in the coming months. It’s not surprising news, but still cool – although it is notable that they aren’t setting up shop in Wellington, a city that’s home to Jackson’s WETA and one that, from my understanding, seems to have a bigger film infrastructure already in place. But Payne and McKay sound thrilled to be utilizing the country’s incredible locales to bring their show to life:

“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. And 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. We are grateful to the people and the government of New Zealand and especially Auckland for supporting us during this pre-production 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.”

New Zealand is truly one of the most beautiful countries on the planet, and while there are a few other places that can rival its natural wonders, it would have felt wrong to return to Middle-earth with a different backdrop in this series. Jackson’s movies did such a great job of using the country’s natural wonders to establish the aesthetic of the lands Tolkien’s characters inhabit, and I’m thrilled to know that at the very least, audiences will have a chance to revisit that world again.

In late 2016, my wife and I spent two weeks in New Zealand. You can check out some of its gorgeous scenery in this video we made of our trip (and yes, we obviously visited Hobbiton):

This Amazon series is set in Tolkien’s Second Age, an era many years before the events of The Hobbit or The Lord of the RingsJ.A. Bayona (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) is on board to direct the first two episodes of the first season, which is said to have 20 episodes. You can check out a complete list of the behind-the-scenes talent here, which includes several producers from shows like Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad. The series does not have a release date yet, but Will Poulter (Midsommar) and Australian actress Markella Kavenagh have been in contention for lead roles in the series, so I expect we’ll be hearing more about the show very soon.

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