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Things are looking up for Amazon's Lord of the Rings series

Outstanding news today for fans of small, barefooted men arguing over who gets to wear the nice jewelry: According to Deadline, Amazon's The Lord of the Rings series has resumed filming in New Zealand.

The production, based out of scenic West Auckland, had reportedly neared completion of its first two episodes back in March of 2020. Around that time, work was shut down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While frustrating for anyone hoping for a hasty return to Middle Earth, the pause actually segued relatively neatly into a previously scheduled break in filming set to coincide with New Zealand's winter months, presumably since watching orcs make snow angels would be unsettlingly off-brand. An early break in production seems to have represented more of a speed bump than a full-on obstacle.

Even so, Amazon will be happy to know that cameras are rolling in Hobbiton again, given the astonishing investment that the company has made in the series. Seen as Amazon's answer to sweeping premium television epic Game of Thrones, the first season of The Lord of the Rings has a budget estimated to be in the low billions, with the television rights to the franchise alone setting the company back $250 million, or roughly the amount it would cost to develop an actual magic invisibility ring. Between fans anticipation and spending the approximate nominal GDP of the Marshall Islands on the franchise rights, it undoubtedly feels good to know that the cameras are rolling again.

Lord of the Rings 2: Back in the Hobbit

Amazon's Lord of the Rings isn't the only New Zealand production getting back on track after months of COVID-19 restrictions. Netflix's live action Cowboy Bebop adaptation is also slated to resume filming in the near future, scheduled to start up again on Wednesday, September 30. Filming on the series was reportedly stalled in autumn of 2019 after one of the show's stars, John Cho, suffered a knee injury on set. After a reported delay of "about four and a half months," James Cameron reported on September 28 that work in New Zealand on the second and third Avatar movies had resumed, with Avatar 2 already in the can and Avatar 3 "sort of 95 percent complete."

The Lord of the Rings, which is currently scheduled for release some time in 2021, will serve as a prequel to the stories seen in Peter Jackson's trilogy of films. While details about the plot have been kept close to the vest, we know that the show will take place during Middle-earth's Second Age, thousands of years before the adventures of Frodo and friends, in one of the rare periods of the world's history not painstakingly documented by J.R.R. Tolkien. The series stars Robert Aramayo (Game of Thrones, Mindhunter) and relative unknown Owain Arthur in undisclosed roles, with Dracula's Morfydd Clark as young Galadriel. Characters rumored to appear include series favorites like Treebeard and Sauron. In November of 2019, Amazon preemptively ordered a second season of the series, cementing it as a Prime Video tentpole for years to come.