Avatar Sequels And Lord Of The Rings Series Could Resume Production In New Zealand Soon

The country has already begun to allow some movies and TV shows to resume production.

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New Zealand has begun to allow some film and TV productions to resume shooting after the Coronavirus lockdowns, setting up a path for Amazon's The Lord of the Rings series and James Cameron's Avatar sequels to kick back into gear.

Deadline reports that some movie and TV productions have already begun again, and the Lord of the Rings series and the Avatar sequels may follow, the site said.

The live-action shoots for the Avatar sequels were filming in New Zealand. After the Coronvirus pandemic broke out, filming stopped, but work continued on the visual effects.

The New Zealand Film Commission told Deadline that all local productions must register with New Zealand's health and safety group, ScreenSafe, to assist the country's Ministry of Health in tracking the virus.

New Zealand, which has some of the strictest border protection and lockdown rules in the world, has recorded around 1,100 cases of COVID-19 and 21 deaths. For comparison, the state of California alone recently surpassed 60,000 cases and more than 2,000 deaths.

New Zealand continues to limit international travel and still has bans on large gatherings of people, preventing or impacting large-scale productions like the Avatar sequels and the Lord of the Rings series from resuming. Deadline reports that New Zealand is expected to relax its social-distancing rules later this month to allow for groups of up to 100 people to gather, though international travel may still be restricted or limited for some time, which could impact talent flying into the country for filming.

The first Avatar sequel hits theaters on December 17, 2021. Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, and Stephen Lang will reprise their roles from the first movie, and will be joined by Kate Winslet, Vin Diesel, Michelle Yeoh, and Jemaine Clement.

There are also another three Avatar movies scheduled for 2023, 2025, and 2027 releases. However, Cameron has previously stated that the latter two films depend on the box office performance of the first sequel. The first Avatar held the record for the biggest movie of all time for nearly a decade, before it was finally beaten by Avengers: Endgame last year.

As for the Lord of the Rings series, Amazon has not yet announced a release date. The network is clearly enthusiastic about the series, however, as it's already announced Season 2.

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