Middle-Earth is moving from New Zealand to the United Kingdom.
Amazon Studios announced Thursday that it is moving the filming of the second season of its highly anticipated, and extremely expensive, “Lord of the Rings” series to the United Kingdom.
“The shift from New Zealand to the UK aligns with the studio’s strategy of expanding its production footprint and investing in studio space across the UK, with many of Amazon Studios’ tentpole series and films already calling the UK home,” Amazon said in a statement.
The first season of the series is being produced in New Zealand and is set to debut on September 2, 2022 on Prime Video, the company said. The show will premiere in 240 countries and territories and new episodes will be available weekly.
The show will take place “thousands of years before the events of Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings books” and will follow an ensemble cast. Some of those characters will be familiar while others will be new.
New Zealand’s Economic Development Minister Stuart Nash said he was disappointed by the decision.
“The Amazon Studios’ decision in no way reflects the capabilities of our local film industry or the talents of the people who work in it. This is a multinational company that has made a commercial choice,” he said.
Nash said that Amazon was spending more than $460 million in New Zealand to produce the first season. He said that following the decision to relocate production, the government would pull some financial incentives that had been awarded to Amazon.
Nearly two decades ago, Peter Jackson’s “The Lord Of The Rings” trilogy, which won 17 Academy Awards, was largely filmed in New Zealand and showcased the country’s natural scenery. The project broke box office records around the world and prompted a spike in tourism to New Zealand. Jackson was knighted by the country’s government in 2010.
In its statement, Amazon thanked “the people and the government of New Zealand for their hospitality and dedication and for providing The Lord of the Rings series with an incredible place to begin this epic journey.”
The New Zealand Film Commission did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNN Business.
The still untitled “Lord of the Rings” series is significant for Amazon as it attempts to further root itself in the streaming world. The show was first announced in 2017 and has garnered attention for its reported production budget.
The fantasy franchise — which tells the tale of Hobbits, wizards, elves and humankind battling evil and temptation in Middle Earth — has charmed audiences for decades leading to a cult-like fanbase.
— Frank Pallotta and Julia Hollingsworth contributed to this report.