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Lord of the Rings' TV show executives meeting with Government

Author
NZ Herald,
Section
Business,
Publish Date
Sunday, 23 December 2018, 11:35a.m.
Some reports tip that the Lord of the Rings TV series will focus on the early life of Aragorn, played in the film trilogy by Viggo Mortensen, left. (Photo / File)
Some reports tip that the Lord of the Rings TV series will focus on the early life of Aragorn, played in the film trilogy by Viggo Mortensen, left. (Photo / File)

Executives from the American company producing a $1.5b Lord of the Rings TV series were in town this week for a meeting with a top-level Government Minister at a time when film studio space is scarce.

A spokesman for David Parker confirmed the Economic Development Minister met with Amazon representatives but would not comment further.

"They discussed productions in New Zealand," Parker's spokesman told the Herald.

Amazon Studios is the TV arm of the US tech behemoth Amazon, owned by US billionaire Jeff Bezos.

One of the productions Amazon is behind is a TV version of Lord of the Rings - tipped to be shot somewhere in Aotearoa.

The plot of the series is still unknown; though some reports tip it would focus on the early life of Aragorn, played in Sir Peter Jackson's 17 Academy Award-winning film trilogy by Viggo Mortensen.

Jackson is not involved with the Amazon series but told a New York Comic conference that he is "kind of looking forward to it."

"I was a guy who didn't get to see the Lord of the Rings like everybody else because I had to make it, so I'm looking forward to seeing somebody else's take on the Tolkien world," Jackson reportedly told the audience.

This week's ministerial meeting with Amazon comes as Kiwi film studios are being booked "chocka" by Hollywood, with the number of movies shot in New Zealand doubling in two years.

"We're really, really busy, 100 per cent," South Pacific Pictures chief executive Kelly Martin told the Herald in September.

"We've just confirmed another project in January so there's more work around than space, our studios are chocka. People are desperate for space."

Ateed Screen Auckland manager, Michael Brook, also told the Herald earlier this year the industry was thriving and forecast "a lot more activity would be taking place" in 2019.

The Government earlier this year abandoned plans to rein in ballooning subsidies for Hollywood, citing film industry opposition and the threat of lawsuits from the producers of James Cameron's Avatar films.

Parker began a review after the Herald revealed the deal giving studios cash payments of up to 25 per cent of their local spending on productions had totalled $575 million since 2010.

But Parker, in September, said following consultations with industry around the viability of their business - and thousands of accompanying jobs - without subsidies, and legal advice over a 2013 deal signed with Avatar producers, said cuts or changes to the subsidy scheme were now off the table.

"We're not proposing to introduce a cap. We accept that the subsides are necessary, and we accept there's a benefit to the country," he said earlier this year.

 

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