Despite New Zealand being the iconic backdrop for the fantastic lands of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy — as well as his The Hobbit trilogy — it looks like Amazon is packing up shop and moving halfway across the world for season two of their new series. Variety reports that Amazon Prime Video’s prequel series, based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s vast body of work on Middle-earth, has set filming locations for its second season not in the Southern Hemisphere, but just outside of London, at Bray Film Studios and Bovingdon Airfield.
While they are certainly not the only locations that will be used for the production of such a massive series, both Bray and Bovingdon boast quite the resume of projects shot on their locations, with the former having been the sight of shoots for hit musicals like Mamma Mia and Rocketman, while the outdoor Bovingdon has been the home of shoots for action blockbusters like Justice League and Fast and the Furious 6. The series will mark the first time any live-action adaptation of Tolkien’s work has been produced outside of New Zealand, causing a significant upset to the country’s production sector.
According to Variety, pre-production is set to begin in the second quarter of 2022 for a premiere in September. No specific plot details have been revealed — as is usual for such massive adaptations of existing IP — but Amazon has confirmed that the series will follow an ensemble cast of characters and take place during the Second Age of Middle-earth, a prequel set thousands of years before the events of both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
“I think [the move to the U.K.] speaks to the depth of talent here, the reputation, the skills, the infrastructure,” said Dan Grabiner, head of originals at Amazon Studios U.K. “It is a large production. To make an operation like that work, you need world class people and world class talents working on it.”
Lord of the Rings, starring Sir Lenny Henry, Morfydd Clark, Peter Mullan, Joseph Mawle, and Robert Aramayo, is led by J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, who serve as showrunners and executive producers. Also on the EP team are Lindsey Weber, Callum Greene, J.A. Bayona — who is also set to direct for the series — Belén Atienza, Justin Doble, Jason Cahill, Gennifer Hutchison, Bruce Richmond, and Sharon Tal Yguado.
The series is set to premiere on September 2, 2022, with episodes rolling out on a weekly basis.
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