'LOTR' series likely to boost tourism

Looking up the Arrow River into Soho station. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Looking up the Arrow River into Soho station. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery

A TV series based on The Lord of the Rings is great news for the Wakatipu, whether or not it gets filmed here, film and tourism insiders say.

Nomad Safaris co-owner David Gatward-Ferguson says interest in the fantasy trilogy's film locations will endure for generations anyway, but it would be ''brilliant'' if the series went ahead.

''And it would be wonderful if it was done well, and done somewhere in New Zealand.''

Amazon announced last week it had bought the global TV rights to The Lord Of The Rings and would produce a series exploring new storylines preceding JRR Tolkien's novels.

It would work with the film trilogy's distributor New Line Cinema, the Tolkien estate and publisher HarperCollins to produce the series, which would run on its streaming and shopping club Prime.

Mr Gatward-Ferguson, whose company runs LOTR film location tours from Queenstown, said the recent retirement of Tolkien's elderly son, Christopher, as director of the Tolkien estate had led to speculation it would adopt a ''more commercial outlook''.

''Those movies have such a huge following; it would be very simple for them to generate more business off the back of them.''

Sir Peter Jackson's three films of the trilogy earned nearly $US3billion at the box office and 17 Academy Awards. Three more based on Tolkien's earlier novel, The Hobbit, garnered about the same amount.

The final instalment, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, was released three years ago.

Film Otago Southland executive manager Kevin Jennings said he was trying to find out more about the TV series, with the big question being where it would be filmed.

Although there was no sign interest in the region's LOTR locations was fading, the series could only be good news.

''All these things just keep the tail end of the curve up in terms of awareness.''

Mr Gatward-Ferguson said films were highly influential in people's decisions about where they travelled, because they were a ''talking point'' even if they had not actually watched them.

LOTR and The Hobbit were still doing for New Zealand what Star Wars films did for Tunisia and The Hunger Games for North Carolina.

More than 50 years after it was released, The Sound of Music remained a ''huge drawcard'' for the Austrian city of Salzburg.

''Whether people have seen the films or not, it's still very much about New Zealand.

''This area was the home of it.''

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