Amazon’s ‘The Lord of the Rings’ Series Breaking Major Tradition With Season 2

Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings filming is complete for season 1. And season 2 has already been green-lit. But the second season is going to break a tradition established by Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy. And it’s a truly surprising move from Amazon Prime’s series.

Ian McKellen as Gandalf and Elijah Wood as Frodo in 'The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Amazon's 'Lord of the Rings' series will be the next installment of the beloved franchise.
Ian McKellen as Gandalf and Elijah Wood as Frodo in ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring’ | New Line/WireImage/Getty Images

Where are they filming ‘Lord of the Rings’?

Amazon’s Lord of the Rings series is debuting on Prime Video on Sept. 2, 2022. Episodes will debut weekly. The series announced the highly anticipated release date on Twitter on Aug. 2, saying “a new journey” will begin.

And it will be a new journey, indeed. One of the only things the Amazon and Jackson franchises will have in common is the fact they both filmed in New Zealand. But that won’t be the case for season 2. For the first time in the franchise’s history, Lord of the Rings will not be filmed in New Zealand. According to Deadline, Lord of the Rings Season 2 will film in the United Kingdom. All of Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies filmed in New Zealand. And its filming locations have become successful tourist attractions and serve as a beloved landmark of the revered films.

Lord of the Rings Season 1 is still in post-production, which will be completed in New Zealand as planned. That won’t be complete until June 2022, and then the season will debut three months later in September. Pre-production for Lord of the Rings Season 2 starts Jan. 1, 2022. According to Deadline, all of the sets from season will be moved from New Zealand to the U.K. And the change of location is likely due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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How many episodes are in LOTR season 1?

The highly anticipated series will be set in the Second Age of Middle-earth, as that’s the only time period J.R.R. Tolkien’s estate permitted Amazon to use. Production of the series’ 20 episodes was delayed by the pandemic. When production resumed, the cast and crew were required to remain in New Zealand for about two years. This caused many of the English cast members to be separated from their families for a long stretch of time, including holidays.

Filming in the U.K. will allow British cast and crew members to be closer to home. The season 1 production crew consisted of many New Zealand residents. Season 2 will hire British residents instead so New Zealanders don’t have to be far from home. The exact filming locations for Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings have not been determined.

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Where did Tolkien get his inspiration for Middle-earth?

Some fans might be concerned about the move from New Zealand. After all, the country has been dubbed the “Home of Middle-earth” by filmmakers and fans alike. But there is merit to the series filming in the U.K.

Tolkien was born in South Africa and moved to England at 4 years old with his family. The author based the Shire on rural England. According to BBC, he once said in a newspaper interview that The Shire was “inspired by a few cherished square miles of actual countryside at Sarehole,” and told publishers it “more or less a Warwickshire village of about the period of [Queen Victoria’s] Diamond Jubilee.”

The aesthetic of Rivendell was inspired by a trip Tolkien took to Switzerland in 1911. He detailed the trip in a letter to his son, Michael, saying they walked through the mountains “carrying great packs.”

“We went on foot carrying great packs practically all the way from Interlaken, mainly by mountain paths, to Lauterbrunnen and so to Mürren and eventually to the head of Lauterbrunnenthal in a wilderness of morains,” he said.

It’s easy to imagine how the Fellowship of the Ring’s trail through Middle-earth could be inspired by this landscape. Some less picturesque scenes — specifically the Dead Marshes and the Black Gate — were partially inspired by the Battle of the Somme in World War I, which took place in France. So Tolkien’s writing does support filming in the U.K and Europe. But given the irrevocable association the Lord of the Rings movies have with New Zealand, this is quite a surprising change.