'The Lord of the Rings': New Zealand's Anti-Union 'Hobbit Law' Didn't Stop Amazon From Moving the Show to the U.K.
30th September 2021

J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit were incredible fantasies that became some of the most outstanding books in literary history. Their big-screen adaptations were just as impressive. Peter Jackson delivered epic films that would be remembered forever, receiving unparalleled praise and winning numerous awards. 

Fans were thrilled to learn that they could delve into a new adventure in Middle Earth soon. Amazon Prime has undertaken the colossal project of bringing Middle Earth to the small-screen. The much-anticipated series has reportedly finished filming its first season and is moving sets to the U.K. from New Zealand for its second season.

Middle Earth is coming to Amazon Prime 

Amazon Prime is bringing the world of hobbits, elves, dwarves, and wizards to homes across the globe. The much-anticipated The Lord of the Rings series will give fans an in-depth look at Middle Earth and its incredible characters. 

According to IndieWire, the series will take place long before the events of The Hobbit. The story is set during Tolkien’s Second Age era, and fans will see familiar settings like Numenor, the Misty Mountains, and Lindon (the breathtaking capital city of the elves).

Details about the series have been kept under lock and key, but several pieces of information have slowly been leaking out to the public. We imagine the cast will be sizable, with at least 20 new cast members recently joining the project. We also know that the series comes with a hefty price tag, boasting a budget somewhere in the neighborhood of $450 million. The series has to do well with numbers like that to stay in production and bring us multiple seasons.

Peter Jackson’s ‘The Lord of the Rings’ films were sweeping fantasies

Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy was absolute cinematic magic. He brought the novels to life on the big screen, captivating audiences with sweeping landscapes in far-off lands. The cast was superb, making each character shine and leaving an unforgettable impression with fans across the globe. 

The films were a distinctive combination of darkness and light, allowing the epic story of Frodo Baggins to capture and completely immerse the audience in the world of Middle Earth. As we watched the films, we ran the gamut of emotions–happiness, sadness, terror, anxiety, and excitement. The action sequences had us on the edges of our seats, making us feel like we were right out on the battlefield with our heroes. 

The ‘Hobbit Law’ kept the filmmakers in New Zealand

In 2012, Jackson attempted to recreate the magic he created years before with a big-screen adaptation of Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Although Jackson’s new trilogy was big, bold, and action-packed, it still felt like something was missing. Some fans are torn on which trilogy is better, although most will agree that The Hobbit doesn’t measure up to The Lord of the Rings

There are several reasons why fans enjoyed The Lord of the Rings more, but there is one reason that most people will agree on–The Hobbit was far too long. Let’s think about it–The Lord of the Rings had three separate novels adapted into three films. The Hobbit was one book, and it was pretty short (310 pages). Why in the world would anyone try to stretch 310 pages into three films? 

It’s still unclear why Jackson felt The Hobbit needed to be a trilogy, but he went to great lengths to get it there. In fact, the crew’s return to film in New Zealand in 2010 created quite a stir. Equal Times recalled the bad memories that The Hobbit‘s opening brought back for some New Zealanders.

In 2010, an actors union (New Zealand Actors Equity) created a “do not sign” order to attempt to prevent actors from signing on to work as a part of The Hobbit case until negotiations were complete. The dispute was eventually resolved, but Jackson brought the matter to the public before the union could announce the resolution. 

He created a media stir, saying that Warner Bros. executives were on their way to New Zealand to talk about moving production out of the country. The public was enraged and turned their anger toward the union. Union leaders were assaulted and even received death threats. 

The New Zealand government pleaded with Warner Bros. to keep production going and ended up passing a controversial order that would become known as the “Hobbit Law.” The law made it impossible for actors to unionize because it categorized them as independent contractors rather than studio employees. 

‘The Lord of the Rings’ series will film in a new location

Ironically, the “Hobbit Law” that caused so much grief for actors in New Zealand couldn’t keep Middle Earth in New Zealand forever. Although Jackson finished production on all of his films in New Zealand, Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings series is being moved. Season one of the series was filmed in New Zealand, but season two will be produced in the U.K.

The exact location of production has not been released, but The Hollywood Reporter says reports have indicated Scotland as the new home of the series. According to The Verge, New Zealand’s strict coronavirus (COVID-19) rules were a major reason for the move. Since most of the cast is British, it was challenging for them to go home during filming due to strict travel restrictions. The move to the U.K. will make it easier on the cast, not requiring them to stay away from home for years at a time. 

The series is expected to air on Amazon Prime around September 2022. 

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