Scotland set to capitalise after The Lord of the Rings moves out of New Zealand
Scotland’s booming screen industry is set to capitalise after filming of The Lord of the Rings series is moved out of New Zealand.
The UK Government has pledged that thousands of jobs will be created by Amazon, which has become the biggest players in the Scottish screen industry in recent months.
Scotland had reportedly been lined up by Amazon to be the home for The Lord of the Rings series before the £336 million-budget series was lured to New Zealand by a lucrative package of government-led support.
Amazon said the shift from New Zealand, where The Lord of the Rings was said to have created nearly 2,000 jobs, "aligns with the studio's strategy of expanding its production footprint and investing in studio space across the UK”.
Industry insiders say the range of unspoiled landscape in the Highlands will put Scotland in pole position to secure significant periods of filming, with the creation of new studio facilities bolstering its ability to cater for major productions.
It is thought the economic impact of filming Lord of the Rings in Scotland could outstrip that of Outlander, with some industry insiders predicting a potential spin-off of around £20m, depending on whether a studio production base is created north of the border.
Six series of Outlander have been made in Scotland so far, helping to more than treble the industry’s value to more than £100m.
Amazon is expected to make another four series of Lord of the Rings, which suffered a lengthy break in production in New Zealand year due to the country’s strict lockdown restrictions.
Amazon, which will launch the first series worldwide next month, has recently committed to make three other major shows in Scotland.
Filming recently wrapped on new supernatural thriller The Rig at the new First Stage Studios in Leith. They are also lined up for the new Neil Gaiman series Anansi Boys, while its director Douglas Mackinnon is also working on a new season of Good Omens with the author.
UK culture secretary Oliver Dowden said: “Thousands of high-quality jobs all across the UK will be created and supported by the Lord Of The Rings television series, so this is very exciting news.”
A spokeswoman for VisitScotland said: “We know the impact of screen tourism is felt long after productions are broadcast.
“Our own surveys find that around one in five visitors are motivated to come to Scotland after seeing it on-screen, and in these days of on-demand and multi-channel content, there are even greater opportunities for programmes to reach an audience and offer further inspiration.
"Scotland’s stunning scenery, history and landscapes are increasingly inspiring and attracting productions, which in turn offers an opportunity to boost tourism and encourage visitors to experience these locations for themselves.”
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government’s agency Screen Scotland said: “We can't unfortunately comment on discussions about specific productions until or unless we're able to.
“Scotland’s competitive Film & TV funds, world-renowned talent, crews, facilities and locations and the UK’s attractive tax breaks continue to drive strong international interest in Scotland as a filming destination.
“We've been working closely with partners to provide industry wide guidance to help ensure Scotland's film and TV sector can continue production, in line with Scottish Government Covid advice.”