Sir Ian McKellen has said that while filming “The Hobbit” he felt “miserable” compared to the role of Gandalf in “Lord of the Rings” because of too much virtual production -19 world.

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Amazon has announced that it will be filming the second season of its unnamed television series “Lord of the Rings” in the UK rather than New Zealand, where the first season and Peter Jackson’s Oscar-winning film trilogy were filmed.

Amazon Studios said Thursday that moving from New Zealand is part of its strategy to expand its manufacturing presence in the UK and invest in studio space in the UK. The exact locations were not disclosed.

Industry publication Deadline reported that New Zealand’s strict Covid-19 lockdown rules meant that the show’s cast, more than half of whom are British, were unable to return home for nearly two years. The country’s border control measures have also reportedly prevented Amazon executives from visiting the sets.

The landscapes of New Zealand, home to rugged snow-capped mountains, vast blue lakes and rolling green hills, helped make the films a huge hit. The country has strong ties to the franchise, with hundreds of its 5 million residents featured in the films and a special museum in the capital, Wellington.

Amazon had already praised New Zealand for its abundant hospitality when it announced the series in 2019 and said it was looking forward to deepening the relationship.

Moving to the UK, where Lord of the Rings writer JRR Tolkien is from, has reportedly disappointed some New Zealand lawmakers. The New Zealand government did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Tourism boom

New Zealand experienced an increase in tourism in the wake of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. In 2004, according to the New Zealand Tourism Guide, approximately 6% of New Zealand’s visitors (approximately 120,000 to 150,000 people) cited the film franchise as a top reason for visiting.

The country had offered Amazon an additional 5% on top of the standard 20% discount incentives for production budgets.

The additional discount is now being withdrawn, but Economic Development Minister Stuart Nash reportedly said Amazon was still eligible for a $ 132 million New Zealand discount ($ 92 million).

Amazon Studios has shared its first image in its upcoming untitled series “Lord of the Rings,” which will appear on its streaming service on September 2, 2022.

Amazon Studios

The first series cost Amazon around $ 465 million, according to The Hollywood Reporter, and is set to premiere on Amazon’s Prime Video streaming platform in September 2022.

“We would like to thank the people and government of New Zealand for their hospitality and dedication, and for making The Lord of the Rings series an incredible place to begin this epic journey,” said Vernon Sanders, VP and Co-Head of TV at Amazon Studios, it said in a statement.

“We are grateful to the New Zealand Film Commission, Department for Business, Innovation and Employment, Tourism New Zealand, Auckland Unlimited and others for their great collaboration in supporting the New Zealand film sector and local economy during the production of the first season.”