Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings Resumes Production in New Zealand: Report

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The Lord of the Rings prequel series has reportedly resumed filming in New Zealand. The Amazon Prime Video production has gotten the greenlight to continue in West Auckland, close to the island nation’s most populous city (Auckland) which had been the centre of a second COVID-19 outbreak in August, a couple of months after New Zealand had declared itself virus-free. Filming will resume on the first two episodes and then move deeper into season 1. Additionally, Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop will join The Lord of the Rings prequel series in resuming production, this Wednesday.

Deadline brings word of The Lord of the Rings prequel series getting back to work in New Zealand, picking up where it had left off in mid-March. It joins James Cameron’s Avatar sequels, which have been filming in New Zealand since June (and have largely completed), one of the first productions to do so thanks to the country’s success in combating COVID-19. Preparation work had been going on for the past couple of months, Deadline adds, and now the LOTR cast and crew are back on set.

COVID-19 hasn’t actually affected The Lord of the Rings prequel series because it had planned to take a 4–5-month break after the first two episodes anyway. The pandemic essentially brought that forward, with Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay using the forced time off set to work on scripts for season 2, as they had planned to do. That now means The Lord of the Rings prequel series can continue filming after director J.A. Bayona wraps on first two episodes.

Set in the Second Age of Middle-earth (the fictional fantasy world created by author J.R.R. Tolkien), Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings takes place hundreds or thousands of years before the events of the first The Lord of the Rings movie. The cast includes Robert Aramayo, Owain Arthur, Nazanin Boniadi, Tom Budge, Morfydd Clark, Ismael Cruz Córdova, Ema Horvath, Markella Kavenagh, Joseph Mawle, Tyroe Muhafidin, Sophia Nomvete, Megan Richards, Dylan Smith, Charlie Vickers, and Daniel Weyman among others.

Behind the scenes, Payne, McKay, and Bayona are also executive producers alongside 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), and Justin Doble (Stranger Things).

As for Netflix’s live-action remake of the Cowboy Bebop anime, the series had been forced on a 7–9-month hiatus last year after lead cast member Jon Cho suffered a knee injury on set. It’s now set to resume filming this week, per Deadline. Cho stars alongside Mustafa Shakir, Daniella Pineda, and Alex Hassell.

Christopher Yost (Thor: Ragnarok) is writer and executive producer on Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop, alongside Andre Nemec, Josh Appelbaum, Jeff Pinkner, and Scott Rosenberg of Midnight Radio, Yasuo Miyakawa, Masayuki Ozaki, and Shin Sasaki of Sunrise Inc. (the studio behind the original anime), Marty Adelstein and Becky Clements of Tomorrow Studios, Tetsu Fujimura, and Matthew Weinberg.

Amazon hopes to have The Lord of the Rings prequel series on the air in 2021. Netflix hasn’t set a release window for Cowboy Bebop.

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