Amazon sets the date for televised return to Middle Earth: September 2022

Big tech gets busy in New Zealand as LoTR TV show wraps filming the same day Google opens Auckland office

Amazon Studios, Jeff Bezos' filmed entertainment outfit, said its much-anticipated Lord of the Rings television series will debut on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, September 2, 2022.

The much-anticipated first season is thought to have cost Amazon US$465m to make on top of the US$250m it shelled out for rights to Tolkien's works, reportedly making it the most expensive series of all time.

Anyone concerned Bezos can’t afford LoTR and fun side trips into almost outer space needn’t worry. The New Zealand government’s Official Information Act released information, first reported by the New Zealand-based outlet Stuff, detailing production subsidies to the tune of US$114m.

The government report also said Amazon wanted to film five seasons in New Zealand. A second was ordered before production of the first began.

The show will premiere in over 240 countries and territories with new episodes debuting weekly. As Amazon Studio’s puts it, the plot begins “in a time of relative peace, thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings books, in the Second Age of Middle Earth.

"The series follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth.”

LoTR buffs will know the Second Age featured the rise of Númenor, Sauron, the emergence of the Ringwraiths, the early wars between Sauron and the Elves, and the creation of The One Ring.

A name for the show and an episode count remain a mystery. However, a first photo was released, leaving the internet abuzz about whether or not the background contains the Two Trees of Valinor, technically from the First Age. This has left many to speculate if Amazon has acquired rights beyond just the Second Age.

Amazon Studios revealed the release day on the day the series finished filming, which by coincidence was also the day on which Google announced it is establishing an engineering presence in Auckland.

Google hinted at a continued partial WFH strategy as they said this of their first purpose-built office in the city:

Teams will use our new “Pāua” event space to host business leaders, technologists and the wider community. And the space as a whole has been designed to suit our new hybrid approach to work.

The tech giant also promised to hire local talent and mentioned it has launched a new Google Cloud Dedicated Interconnect location in Auckland and a second Australia-New Zealand Google Cloud region, in Melbourne.

“This investment will help us better serve our local Cloud customers, connecting New Zealand to Google’s private secure network and ensuring customer data never traverses the public internet,” went the canned statement. ®

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