Why Amazon's £1b Lord of the Rings series - once destined for Leith - is going to New Zealand

It is expected to become the biggest and most expensive television series in history - but Lord of the Rings will not be filmed in Scotland.

Thursday, 19th September 2019, 5:21 pm
Updated Thursday, 19th September 2019, 6:34 pm
Viggo Mortensen played Aragorn in Peter Jackson's 2000s adaptation of Lord of the Rings. The new Amazon series will also be shot in New Zealand.

Amazon bought the rights to J.R.R. Tolkien's epic fantasy story for a reported $250 million in 2017.

The new series - which will be set in the Middle Earth fantasy world but is not a direct adaptation of Tolkien's work - was mooted to be shot in Scotland.

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Multi-million pound 'Lord of the Rings film studio' in Leith Docks set to open this year
The site in Leith where the Lord of the Rings TV show could have been filmed.

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Talks between Amazon Studios and Creative Scotland reached an advanced stage and location scouts posing as tourists were spotted in the Highlands.

It had been hoped a deal would see the proposed five-year shoot to Creative Scotland's planned Leith Studio with scenes filmed on location across the country.

But it seems the uncertainty of Brexit has prompted show-runners to take their business elsewhere.

Instead of using the new Leith mega-studio and the backdrop of Scotland's wild Highlands, it has now been officially confirmed they will return the series to New Zealand.

New Zealand served as the setting for Peter Jackson's Academy Award-winning trilogy of films which were released 19 years ago.

And it seems the producers of Amazon's new iteration are convinced the fellow island nation - which has often drawn comparisons to Scotland's landscape - can represent Middle Earth once more.

The franchise is expected to bring the country a huge boost in tourism and jobs.

In a statement, Amazon Studios said: "As we searched for the location in which we could bring to life the primordial beauty of the Second Age of Middle-earth, we knew we needed to find somewhere majestic, with pristine coasts, forests, and mountains."

New Zealand's Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford said the project would create a range of benefits "including jobs and significant overseas investment".