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New Zealand tourism industry faces 'nightmare scenario' as Lord of the Rings series leaves for U.K.

The Lord of the Rings franchise and New Zealand have long been intertwined. But for its second season, the new Amazon show won't be going there and back again. 

Amazon has surprisingly announced that the second season of its Lord of the Rings streaming series will be filmed in the United Kingdom instead of New Zealand, where production on the first season and the films took place. The decision, the New Zealand Herald writes, "represents something of a nightmare scenario" for the country's tourism industry, which fears New Zealand could lose its reputation as the series' home. Indeed, the Herald reports a tourism document previously warned that should another country gain that reputation, New Zealand "should expect" its Lord of the Rings "legacy to quickly taper off."

In the wake of the news, Variety writes there "have been recriminations in New Zealand" and questions as to why the government didn't secure a multi-season commitment from Amazon. New Zealand National party economic development spokesman Todd McClay placed blame on Stuart Nash, the country's economic and regional development minister.

"Stuart Nash has shown a lack of interest in negotiating with Amazon, despite the huge impact the production could have on our economy," McClay said. "Stuart Nash needs to be transparent with Kiwis about why he didn't even ask for future seasons of the show to be filmed in New Zealand." 

Nash, meanwhile, said Amazon's decision "in no way reflects the capabilities of our local film industry," adding that it's a "multi-national company that has made a commercial choice." Variety reports that some pointed to New Zealand's border closure policies amid the COVID-19 pandemic as a possible reason for Amazon's move, and Deadline notes this meant the show's cast had to stay in New Zealand "for about two years without being able to spend holidays with their families." The show's first season is set to debut in September 2022.