Amazon Prime Video remained mum even as every Lord of the Rings fan predicted this — but now it's official. The Lord of the Rings prequel series will be filmed in New Zealand, Amazon announced Tuesday evening in the US, with the production team setting up base in the country's most populated city, Auckland. That's where the original The Lord of the Rings trilogy and its prequel follow-up trilogy, The Hobbit, were filmed as well, with Peter Jackson choosing his native New Zealand. Per Amazon, pre-production has already begun and the highly-awaited series — set in the world created by The Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien — will begin shooting in “the coming months”.
“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,” showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay said in a prepared statement. There was only ever going to be one answer for this query, and that's where Amazon's Lord of the Rings prequel series has naturally landed.
“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,” Payne and McKay added. “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.”
Though Amazon's Lord of the Rings prequel series is heading towards filming, little is known about its cast or plot. Will Poulter (Black Mirror: Bandersnatch) and Markella Kavenagh (The Cry) have been reported to be in talks to star, with the former in the lead. The series will take place during the Second Age in J.R.R. Tolkien's vast Middle-earth, which is hundreds or thousands of years before the events of the first The Lord of the Rings movie.
The picture is much clearer behind the scenes, for what it's worth, with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom director J.A. Bayona helming the first two episodes, and serving as executive producer alongside his partner Belén Atienza, Lindsey Weber (10 Cloverfield Lane), Bruce Richmond (Game of Thrones), Gene Kelly (Boardwalk Empire), Sharon Tal Yguado, Gennifer Hutchison (Breaking Bad), Jason Cahill (The Sopranos), Justin Doble (Stranger Things), and the aforementioned Payne and McKay.
Production is being handled by Amazon Studios, in cooperation with the Tolkien Estate and Trust, HarperCollins — the publisher of The Lord of the Rings books — and New Line Cinema, a division of Warner Bros. that worked on Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
Tolkien scholar Tom Shippey, part of the creative team announced in July, has revealed that The Lord of the Rings prequel series season 1 will have a total of 20 episodes, in contrast to the decreasing, sometimes single-digit episode count for streaming-era and prestige TV shows.
Amazon hopes to have The Lord of the Rings prequel series on the air in 2021.
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