‘The Lord of the Rings’ Television Series and ‘Cowboy Bebop’ Allowed to Begin Production in New Zealand

Mt Taranaki New Zealand Film Locations
Kevin Winter

The crew members of Amazon Prime Video’s television adaptation “The Lord of the Rings” and Netflix’s upcoming take on Japanese animated series “Cowboy Bepop,” have both been granted permission to enter New Zealand to begin or resume production, along with five other projects.

According to New Zealand media website Stuff, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has revealed that international crews for seven projects have been allowed to enter the country in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to the long-awaited “Avatar” sequel and Jane Campion’s film “The Power of the Dog,” whose crews had already been allowed in the country, staff are beginning to arrive for television shows “The Lord of the Rings,” “Cowboy Bepop” and “Power Rangers Beast Morphers,” as well as films “The Greatest Beer Run Ever” and “Sweet Tooth.”

A total of 206 cast and crew members and 35 of their family members will be allowed entrance into the country over the course of six months. When making the decision, MBIE cited that letting the productions in will create 3,000 jobs and add $400 million to New Zealand’s economy.

“Our success at managing COVID-19 gives our country an opportunity to become one of the few countries still able to safely produce screen content,” Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford said in a statement obtained by Stuff. “The inquiries and interest we are getting from international production houses tells me that the international film community sees New Zealand as something of a global safe haven.“This is an opportunity friends that we must grab. Despite the turmoil that the world is facing, this is an exciting time for New Zealand’s screen sector.”

“The Lord of the Rings” television series was already in production in Auckland when the pandemic hit, allowing some crew members to quarantine in the country while others returned to their homes and now must come back to New Zealand. The New Zealand Film Commission said that although shooting has not yet resumed on “The Lord of the Rings,” they have begun pre-production. The series alone will bring 93 crew members and 20 family members into the country, including stars Robert Aramayo, Owain Arthur and Nazanin Boniadi.

Production has not started for “Cowboy Bepop,” but Netflix’s adaptation on the anime will bring 19 crew members and nine additional family members to New Zealand. “Cowboy Bepop” does not have a release date yet.