"The Lord of the Rings" Series Suspends New Zealand Production

Amazon Prime Video's upcoming The Lord of the Rings prequel series has officially suspended production for two weeks over the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, though the NZ Herald is reporting that the 800 cast and crew of the West Auckland shoot were told that "there are no clear answers to when we will resume production".

The NZ Herald was forwarded a watermarked copy of the announcement sent out by GSR Productions, stating:

"In an abundance of caution, UAP [Untitled Amazon Project] has suspended production for the next two (2) weeks commencing Monday, March 16. This is done in an environment where travel restrictions directed at the control of Covid-19 are issued daily by New Zealand and most other countries."

lord of the rings
Amazon Prime Video

The memo goes on to cite travel health and safety concerns for the cast and crew as well as concerns about travel restrictions. While details on compensation and other procedures will be coordinated on Monday, all member of the production are directed to "not report to the set or to the studio without the express permission of your supervisor."

The prequel series stars Robert Aramayo, Owain Arthur, Nazanin Boniadi, Tom Budge, Morfydd Clark, Ismael Cruz Córdova, Ema Horvath, Markella Kavenagh, Joseph Mawle, Tyroe Muhafidin, Sophia Nomvete, Megan Richards, Dylan Smith, Charlie Vickers, Daniel Weyman, and Maxim Baldry.

In the video below, LotR fans learned the creative team's killer line-up of talent – including Amazon's ex-genre head Sharon Tal Yguado as well as Lindsey Weber (10 Cloverfield Lane), Bruce Richmond (Game of Thrones), Gene Kelly (Boardwalk Empire), and Tal Yguado – as well as writer/executive producer Gennifer Hutchison (Breaking Bad); writer/executive producer Jason Cahill (The Sopranos), and writer/executive producer Justin Doble (Stranger Things).

Writers Payne and McKay are developing the series and serving as showrunner, with Bryan Cogman (Game of Thrones) serving as a consultant. Juan Antonio (J.A.) Bayona (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) is set to direct the first two episodes, with Bayona also serving as executive producer alongside producing partner Belén Atienza. Amazon Studios produces, in conjunction with the Tolkien Estate and Trust, HarperCollins, and New Line Cinema.

"J.R.R. Tolkien created one of the most extraordinary and inspiring stories of all time, and as a lifelong fan it is an honor and a joy to join this amazing team. I can't wait to take audiences around the world to Middle-earth and have them discover the wonders of the Second Age, with a never before seen story."

– J.A. Bayona

lord of the rings

While specific details on the Lord of the Rings series are still few-and-far-between, we do know that the new stories will take place prior to J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Fellowship of the Ring." Also very telling are the tweets that have come out from the series' official Twitter account, which allude to the "Second Age" – a time when the Rings of Power were first revealed.

"We are thrilled to have J.A. and Belén joining the fellowship as we continue to develop this epic series. We have been great admirers of J.A.'s work for years, and know that his epic, cinematic and deeply heartfelt aesthetic is the perfect sensibility to bring Middle-earth to life anew."

– JD Payne & Patrick McKay

In addition to names listed above, the creative team behind Amazon Prime's "Lord of the Rings" series are executive producers Lindsey Weber, Bruce Richmond, Gene Kelly, and Amazon's former head of genre programming Sharon Tal Yguado; writer and executive producer Gennifer Hutchison; writer and executive producer Jason Cahill; writer and executive producer Justin Doble; consulting producer Stephany Folsom; producer Ron Ames; writer and co-producer Helen Shang; and writing consultant Glenise Mullins. Bayona will executive produce alongside partner Belén Atienza.

About Ray Flook

Serving as Television Editor since 2018, Ray began five years earlier as a contributing writer/photographer before being brought on board as staff in 2017.

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