Amazon Studios Says Reports of Unsafe Set on ‘Lord of the Rings’ Series Are ‘Completely Inaccurate’

Lord of the Rings
Courtesy of New Line

Amazon Studios is firing back following reports that production on the upcoming “Lord of the Rings” series is not taking safety standards seriously, with the company calling the claims “completely inaccurate.”

An article in the New Zealand Herald, published on Friday, reports that “at least three” stunt workers on the set of the “Lord of the Rings” series — which is costing Amazon $465 million to produce its first season — have been seriously injured. According to the story, two injuries requiring surgery were not “proactively reported” to WorkSafe, New Zealand’s workplace health and safety regulator.

In a statement to both the NZ Herald and Variety, Amazon Studios says that their safety protocols are in compliance with WorkSafe and New Zealand governmental standards.

“Amazon Studios takes the health, physical and emotional welfare of our cast and crew extremely seriously,” a spokesperson for Amazon Studios says. “As a top priority, the production team continues to be in full compliance with the mandated WorkSafe New Zealand Safety and Security government regulations. Any allegation or report that activities on set are unsafe or outside of regulations are completely inaccurate.”

The NZ Herald cites a specific instance involving Dayna Grant, an award-winning stunt performer who has worked on productions like “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Wonder Woman 1984.” According to the NZ Herald, Grant suffered a head injury on set in March, which was not reported to WorkSafe, and then was diagnosed with a 8mm brain aneurysm and an injury to her upper spine. Grant is currently in need of emergency brain surgery, and a GiveALittle campaign was launched to help her raise the funds, the NZ Herald states. Grant did not immediately respond to Variety‘s request for comment.

A source close to production tells Variety that Grant’s head injury was determined to be a mild concussion when she received treatment, which is not a “notifiable event” by WorkSafe’s regulations. According to the WorkSafe website, a notifiable event is an injury or illness “that require[s] (or would usually require) a person to be admitted to hospital for immediate treatment.” The site further clarifies that being “admitted to a hospital” means that the person has been admitted “as an inpatient for any length of time – it doesn’t include being taken to the hospital for out-patient treatment by a hospital’s Emergency Department, or for corrective surgery at a later time, such as straightening a broken nose.” The source also claims that Grant was not diagnosed with the brain aneurysm until June, and had previously been cleared to return to work on several other projects after suffering the concussion.

The NZ Herald mentions that another stunt performer who was seriously injured, Elissa Cadwell, was paid $500,000 NZD after her injury. A source close to production tells Variety that the payment was to cover the expenses for Cadwell’s care and to return home. Cadwell did not respond to Variety‘s request for comment.

The source also notes to Variety that the “Lord of the Rings” series has an extremely large amount of stunts, and risk analysis is performed at every stunt site with all near misses and accidents recorded. The production has an injury rate of .068%, which mostly consists of sprains, bruises and muscle and soft tissue strains, according to the source.

Per its logline, the upcoming “Lord of the Rings” series brings to screen for the very first time the heroic legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history. This epic drama is set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings.” Beginning in a time of relative peace, the series follows both familiar and new characters as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth. From the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains to the majestic forests of the elf-capital of Lindon, to the breathtaking island kingdom of Númenor, to the furthest reaches of the map, these kingdoms and characters will carve out legacies that live on long after they are gone.