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Lord of the Rings series and Avatar movies resume filming in New Zealand

Production on some of the biggest series and movies are back underway in the virus-free country.

Lord of the Rings set

A raft of productions interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic have resumed production in New Zealand, led by Amazon Studios’ Lord of the Rings prequel series and James Cameron’s Avatar 2 and 3 movies.


Deadline says Lord of the Rings has just resumed, while Netflix series Cowboy Bebop will start filming on Wednesday and another Netflix project, Sweet Tooth, started up again in mid-September.

In addition to this, James Cameron has confirmed that they were “100 per cent complete on Avatar 2 and sort of 95 per cent complete on Avatar 3”.

The productions were among the projects granted border exemptions by the ultra-cautious New Zealand government in July, effectively able to resume work despite ongoing fears over the spread of coronavirus.

Cameron said: “We’re very lucky in that we chose this as our production site years ago. We made the first film here in New Zealand and it turns out to be ranking first or second best country in the world for its COVID response.”

New Zealand has been COVID-free since June although there was a minor outbreak in Auckland in August.

Lord of the Rings was actually scheduled to take a break during the New Zealand winter, so the lockdown was used by the writers and producers to fine-tune the scripts for season two of the series that is set thousands of years – in the Second Age of Middle Earth – before Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings film cycle.

Star Morfydd Clark, who plays royal elf Galadriel in the series, told NME about the lockdown experience in New Zealand: “It’s definitely strange going into lockdown with people that you have just started working with. But I think we all treat each other like family. Sure, you’ll occasionally get annoyed by people, but you still like them… because you don’t have a choice. I think this time I’ve spent with the cast will be useful on set. But I obviously worry that the audience will be able to see in our eyes that certain sections were filmed pre-lockdown and some afterwards.”

Meanwhile, Cowboy Bebop was a couple of episodes into production on season one when it went into a seven-to-nine-month hiatus following a knee injury sustained by star John Cho. Cowboy Bebop is an adaptation of the cult Japanese animated series, about an inter-galactic space cowboy and his ragtag crew of bounty hunters on the run from their pasts as they hunt down the solar system’s most dangerous criminals.

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To find out what else is on in the mean time, check out our TV Guide.