The director of Amazon's highly anticipated Lord of the Rings television series has arrived in Auckland.
Spanish filmmaker J.A. Bayona has shot his first scenes on our shores – from the comfort of Frasers café in Mount Eden – and shared the clip on his Instagram page this morning while waiting for his brunch to arrive at his table.
The 44-year-old has been secured to oversee shooting of the first two episodes of the upcoming Amazon series and succeed Kiwi director Peter Jackson, who directed the Lord of the Rings film franchise.
Bayona rose to prominence with his first feature film in 2007, The Orphanage, and also directed Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, The Impossible, A Monster Calls, and two episodes of Showtime's 2014 horror series Penny Dreadful.
After his place in the director's chair for the Lord of the Rings series was confirmed in July, Bayona spoke of his excitement at taking on the project, which will tell new storylines that precede Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring.
"J.R.R. Tolkien created one of the most extraordinary and inspiring stories of all time, and as a lifelong fan it is an honor and a joy to join this amazing team," Bayona told Deadline.
"I can't wait to take audiences around the world to Middle-earth and have them discover the wonders of the Second Age, with a never before seen story."
Bayona is also an executive producer of the show, together with his partner Belén Atienza.
The pair will oversee the delivery of a script crafted by feature writers JD Payne and Patrick McKay, who head a team of scribes reportedly including former Breaking Bad scriptwriter Gennifer Hutchison and Game of Thrones' Bryan Cogman.
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"We are thrilled to have J.A. and Belén joining the fellowship as we continue to develop this epic series," Payne and McKay told Deadline.
"We have been great admirers of J.A.'s work for years, and know that his epic, cinematic and deeply heartfelt aesthetic is the perfect sensibility to bring Middle-earth to life anew."
Production of the new series will be based in Auckland but it's understood filming will take place at various locations around the country before its release in 2021.
Amazon Studios have already given the green light to a second season, so New Zealand is set to remain as Middle Earth for some years to come.