Amazon's giant Lord of the Rings shoot is set to resume in West Auckland.
An insider - the same person who tipped the suspension of production on March 15 - tells the Herald that pre-production will resume next month, with filming from September.
Amazon did not immediately return a request for comment.
The $1 billion production is the most expensive series ever shot, and involves some 800 cast and crew. Pre-pandemic, it was set to stream on Amazon's Prime Video series from early next year.
There is an element of regrouping. Some members of the production are now returning to New Zealand. The source said a few left the country before our borders were effectively closed on March 19.
But hundreds of cast members and crew were stranded in Auckland as the hiatus called on March 15 turned into a multi-month layover.
They included Welsh actress Morfydd Clark, who has been tipped to play elf Galadriel (Amazon has yet to release the roles for the young cast of mostly unknowns). Clark told the Daily Mail over the weekend that she was missing home, but praised Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's handling of the pandemic.
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"[The county] went into lockdown so quickly ... which has been quite effective," she said.
New immigration rules published on June 8 - and subsequently backdated to June 2 - allow people working on a project of "significant economic value" to enter New Zealand if they follow self-quarantine guidelines. But even the month before, Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford granted 154 special exemptions - including 31 for crew arriving from LA to work on James Cameron's Avatar sequel.
Amazon paid a reported US$250 million ($412.2m) for the right to make a Lord of the Rings series, and the production is said to have a total budget of US$1billion - making it the most expensive TV series or streaming series ever made.
Auckland's hosting of the series was secured in September last year following drawn-out negotiations between the Government and Amazon Studios.
The retailing and streaming giant, helmed by the world's richest man, Jeff Bezos, had seen New Zealand and Scotland played off against each other in efforts to secure more favourable terms for its production.
Documents obtained by the Herald revealed Amazon was a tough negotiator. The US e-commerce, cloud computing and streaming giant pushed for a 5 per cent increase on the baseline subsidy of 20 per cent, a sweetener worth an extra $50 million.
Amazon, Neflix and the Hollywood studios basically have to choose between Iceland and New Zealand for a Covid-free location. So bring it on.— Chris Keall (@ChrisKeall) June 15, 2020
Grant Robertson can top up the Screen Production Grant with that spare $20b https://t.co/SZTbayN9Xd
Amazon says Prime has 150m subscribers, making it the world's second-largest streaming service after Netflix (182m), and putting it ahead of Disney's Disney+ (54m) and Hulu (32m).