Two new Canterbury locations have been revealed in Amazon Prime’s highly anticipated new Tolkien ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’ series premiering September 2, with Mackenzie District ‘standing in’ as Middle‑earth™ once more.
Filmed in 38 New Zealand locations between 2019-21, the new ‘The Rings of Power’ series brings back popular characters from the The Lord of the Rings trilogy and explores more lore from Tolkien’s expanded works. With 382 shooting days, over 1250 cast and crew employed and a total economic spend by the production estimated at $667.8M, international members of the production crew were made welcome again in Middle‑earth™.
“For me, there's nothing like working with people who are from the country where you're shooting. You need that local knowledge, that local passion. [Being] able to explore the different places that New Zealand has to offer has been a real thrill,” says Callum Greene, Executive Producer.
Alongside the 87 sets built and seven stages used, an estimated 32 per cent of the series was shot on location, and New Zealand again leant itself perfectly to the fantasy world of Tolkien, with new locations on the Middle‑earth™ map to explore.
Kevin Spring - Location Scout and Supervising Location Manager
All the locations are outstanding and with the skill of our VFX department and combining some of these locations we've created worlds that none of the other Tolkien adaptations have ever seen. They’re going to be unique just by the nature of them being the tapestry of different places creating one world,”
“All the locations are outstanding and with the skill of our VFX department and combining some of these locations we've created worlds that none of the other Tolkien adaptations have ever seen. They’re going to be unique just by the nature of them being the tapestry of different places creating one world,” says Kevin Spring, Location Scout and Supervising Location Manager.
Spring explains why locations are critical to putting New Zealand on the film industry’s map with the diverse geography lending itself to other-worldly locations.
“It's a real showreel of New Zealand's locations. I’m just jaw-dropped, smacked in love with New Zealand locations. You look at where we've been and it's just an incredible showcase of the country. You can understand how shows like this bring the tourists in,” Spring says.
Screen CanterburyNZ Manager Petrina D’Rozario knows the strength of our local film industry in Canterbury and how critically important a location, especially close to the source material, can be.
“Locations can often be the main character in a film or series. They set the story and become almost as unforgettable as the hero,” D’Rozario says.
“Julie Andrews forever brings to mind Salzburg where she made her first twirling appearance in The Sound of Music almost 50 years ago. Closer home, The Lord of the Rings is synonymous with New Zealand world over.”
“As a regional screen office in New Zealand, we have seen regions develop economically when locations leave this indelible memory in minds of the audience. For instance, Hobbiton changed Matamata from a town with 20,000 annual visitors to a thriving tourist destination with more than 200,000 tourists pre-pandemic,” she says.
New Zealand’s screen industry has grown steadily over the past three years to $1.97B and Canterbury can grow its presence with just a $64M (FY to Mar 22) slice of the pie. Canterbury is NZ’s third largest screen sector with over 162 screen businesses based locally and 554 employees in production, with post-production services doubling over the last five years.
Alongside the boost to NZ on screen, the tourism industry is happy to welcome ‘Ringers’ back to our shores in a timely boost to visitation after Covid.
“It’s fantastic to see the Tasman Glacier and the Minarets in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park added to the Middle‑earth™ map,” says D’Rozario.
Petrina D’Rozario - Screen CanterburyNZ Manager
Screen is an important economic driver for the Canterbury region. One percent of visitors to New Zealand said they came because of The Lord of The Rings, six per cent said the movies were one of the reasons they visited, and 80 percent said they knew the trilogy was filmed here.”
“Screen is an important economic driver for the Canterbury region. One percent of visitors to New Zealand said they came because of The Lord of The Rings, six per cent said the movies were one of the reasons they visited, and 80 percent said they knew the trilogy was filmed here.”
Canterbury locations like Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, Lake Pūkaki and Mt Sunday leant themselves to Sir Peter Jackson’s epic sagas and let the world know Aotearoa’s backyard brings Middle‑earth™ to life. Other large productions have also shot extensively in Canterbury including Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Mulan, A Wrinkle In Time, Z for Zachariah and most recently Don’t Make Me Go.
Importantly, the screen industry contributed 8 per cent to GDP growth in Canterbury over the last three years and continues to be a key industry for ChristchurchNZ’s Innovation and Business Growth unit.