Lord of the Rings Amazon Series Resumes Production in New Zealand

Amazon’s lavish Lord of the Rings television series is once again rolling cameras after COVID sidelined the production back in March.

Cate Blanchett as Galadriel in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Photo: New Line Cinema

Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings television series is, at long last, making its post-COVID comeback, with production having reportedly resumed after the purportedly billion-dollar-budgeted small screen project became just another name on the list of pandemic-pushed shutdowns this past March.

The currently-untitled Amazon series, based on the mythology of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth literary works The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and the Peter Jackson-directed films adapted from them, has resumed its West Auckland, New Zealand production, reports Deadline. The COVID-caused hiatus ultimately froze progress for six months, leaving things at a point in which the first two episodes of the series were on the verge of completion. Thus, the cast and crew under director J.A. Bayona, are picking up that proverbial spare as we speak.

Interestingly enough, the development occurs after New Zealand essentially cleared productions such as The Lord of the Rings back in May; a clearance that was embraced by another notable kiwi country production in director James Cameron’s ambitious concurrently-produced quartet of Avatar movie sequels. Additionally, Rings was also one of a handful of productions to be granted a border exemption back in July, which, combined with the May clearance, would have facilitated two months’ worth of progress by now. While no official explanation for the summer delay was given, it might have been safety-related.

Of course, the return to production for Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings should delight fans of the Tolkien multimedia mythos. The long-gestating TV project first made headlines well over a year ago with its reported $1 billion budget; clearly the largest of any television offering yet, signaling a potential watershed moment for the peak television era, especially in a theater-averse post-COVID world. The series will be set during Middle Earth’s Second Age—thousands of years before the events of Tolkien’s main novels—showcasing the era depicted in the prologue of 2001’s The Fellowship of the Ring, in which Sauron deceived Middle Earth’s human, elven and dwarven leaders by forging and distributing a magical entreaty of worldwide peace in the Rings of Power. As we all know, those turned out to be controlled by The One Ring forged by Sauron for his secretly-malevolent purposes, setting up the many-millennia-removed story of Tolkien’s novels.

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The resuming of production will see personnel like showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay back to work, along with a cast consisting of Markella Kavenagh, Robert Aramayo, Ema Horvath, Maxim Baldry, Joseph Mawle and Morfydd Clark, who inherits the role of elven Lady Galadriel (albeit a version that’s thousands of years younger,) from Cate Blanchett in the Jackson-directed films. Yet, with Amazon having proactively given The Lord of the Rings series a second season renewal this past November, the latest development also leaves said personnel with their work cut out.

Nevertheless, this return to an intimidating workload is a task that’s embraced with optimism. Indeed, as Samwise the Brave pertinently put it in 2002’s The Two Towers: “Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.”