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image sourceAmazon Studios

image captionA first glimpse of the new Lord of the Rings TV series

Production of the new Lord of the Rings television series will move to the UK from New Zealand, Amazon Studios has confirmed.

The as-yet-untitled fantasy epic is set thousands of years before the events in JRR Tolkien’s books The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

It is a major blow for New Zealand’s entertainment industry where the award-winning movies were also filmed.

UK culture secretary Oliver Dowden welcomed the decision.

He said: “Thousands of high quality jobs all across the UK will be created and supported by The Lord of the Rings television series so this is very exciting news.”

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Treasury have been approached for comment on whether Amazon Studios has been offered financial subsidies to move production to the UK.

Amazon Studios, the film and TV arm of the technology giant, has already spent $465m (£336.5m) on the first season of the show.

It said the shift in locations was part of a plan to expand its production space and consolidate its footprint in the UK.

The first season of the show will finish filming in New Zealand and will be shown on Amazon Prime in September 2022.

Production will then move to the UK and four more seasons of the show are expected to be made.

New Zealand’s economic development minister Stuart Nash said the government was “disappointed” by the decision.

In April, the New Zealand government had granted Amazon Studios extra subsidies on its production.

Amazon was already receiving a 20% rebate on its expenses for filming The Lord of the Ring series in New Zealand before the government added an extra 5%.

At the time, Mr Nash said the agreement with Amazon generated “local jobs and creates work for local businesses” and would “enable a new wave of international tourism branding and promotion for this country”.

Commenting on the decision to move production from New Zealand, Mr Nash said the country’s film industry was “incredibly competitive and highly mobile”.

“We have no regrets about giving this production our best shot with government support,” he said.

Amazon said it would not “actively pursue” the additional 5% subsidy it had been granted.

image sourceNew Line Cinema

image captionThe Lord of the Rings trilogy, starring Elijah Wood and Sean Astin, was filmed in New Zealand

Vernon Sanders, vice president and co-head of TV at Amazon Studios 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.”

New Zealand’s dramatic landscapes were also home to Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movie trilogies.

The first Lord of the Rings film, The Fellowship of the Ring, was released in December 2001 and the final part of the trilogy was screened in 2003.

The popularity of the films helped promote New Zealand’s tourist industry. Between 2001 and 2006, annual tourists to the country rose by 40% from 1.7 million to 2.4 million, according to a report.

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