The first season of an Amazon Studios TV series based on The Lord of the Rings has finished filming in New Zealand, after a slight delay due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The production was suspended for two weeks in mid-March 2020, with about 800 cast and crew members told not to report to the set or the production studio, according to the NZ Herald. Production resumed again in September that year.

In June 2021, series actor Benjamin Walker told Collider he wasn't sure when the show's first season would finish filming.

"It is a bit nebulous at this point. We've been here a long time and they'll let us go when they're done with us," he said at the time.

Amazon Studios says filming wrapped on Monday, and the eight-episode series will premiere on Amazon's Prime Video streaming service on Friday, 2 September 2022, with new episodes released weekly.

The series was among a handful of productions granted exemptions from New Zealand's Covid-19 travel ban, allowing crew members from outside the country to work there after undergoing testing and a period in quarantine.

The show will be the first new look inside J.R.R. Tolkien's universe since Sir Peter Jackson's final The Hobbit film in 2014.

Amazon Studios reportedly spent roughly NZ$660 million on the show's first season alone, and at least two seasons are in the works, potentially making the series the most expensive television show of all time.

To put that in perspective, that's about NZ$113m per episode. Game of Thrones, which has been one of the most expensive series in recent years, had episodes that were estimated to cost up to NZ$28m each.

Amazon paid a reported US$338 million for the rights to make a Lord of the Rings series, and the production is said to have a total budget of US$1.35 billion.

The show's makers say it "brings to screens for the very first time J.R.R. Tolkien's fabled Second Age of Middle-earth's history".

"Beginning in a time of relative peace, thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings books, the series follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth."

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Elijah Wood starred in Sir Peter Jackson's original Lord of the Rings movies. Photo: AFP

The show's cast includes the likes of America's Cynthia Addison (Spartacus, Arrow), Englishman Robert Aramayo (Game of Thrones, Behind Her Eyes), Welsh actor Owain Arthur and British comedian Sir Lenny Henry.

The series is led by showrunners and executive producers J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay.

Jennifer Salke, Head of Amazon Studios, said she's excited for fans to experience a new journey through Middle-earth.

"Our talented producers, cast, creative, and production teams have worked tirelessly in New Zealand to bring this untold and awe-inspiring vision to life," she said.

The Lord of the Rings film trilogy by Sir Peter Jackson came to an end with 2003's Oscar-winning The Lord of the Rings: Return Of The King.


https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/448393/nz-filmed-lord-of-the-rings-series-sets-2022-release-date