Amazon will get an additional 5% from more New Zealand’s Screen Production Grant, Reuters reports today.

(Reuters) New Zealand said on Friday it has agreed to give Amazon (AMZN.O) extra rebates on its expenses for the filming of “The Lord of the Rings” TV series in the country, hoping to reap multi-year economic and tourism benefits.

Amazon will get an extra 5% from New Zealand’s Screen Production Grant in addition to the 20% grant the production already qualifies for, the government said in a statement.

Amazon is estimated to be spending about NZ$650 million ($465 million) filming the first season of the show, for broadcast on its Amazon Prime streaming platform, meaning it would be eligible for a rebate of about NZ$162 million ($116 million), the government said.

“The agreement with Amazon … generates local jobs and creates work for local businesses,” Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash said in a statement. “It will enable a new wave of international tourism branding and promotion for this country.”

The first season entered production in Auckland last year with more than 1,200 people employed. Approximately 700 workers are indirectly employed by providing services to the production, the government said.

U.S.-based Amazon media officials weren’t immediately available for comment outside regular U.S. business hours.

($1 = 1.3976 New Zealand dollars)

Sixty-four began the contest; in the end it came down to just two costumes, in TheOneRing.net’s March Madness 2021: the Battle of the Best Dressed in Middle-earth. Aragorn’s Strider garb took on Legolas’ ‘hero’ outfit – and the voting was fast and furious. Thousands of votes were placed – this final round saw the biggest turn out by far. The lead swung back and forth between the two costumes; but in the end, there could be only one. This year’s Grand Champion is…

Continue reading “Middle-earth March Madness Champion 2021”

‘We come to it at last – the great battle of our time….’ From 64 costumes at the start, we are down to the last two; which of those will be the Grand Champion of March Madness 2021, the Battle of the Best Dressed in Middle-earth? Here are the results of the Final Four:

Round Six – Grand Final

Strider took on the Witchking. It is said that no man can kill him; but the clothing of a ranger could defeat the wraith’s robes. By a margin of only about 150 votes, it is Aragorn who strides into the final.

Continue reading “Middle-earth March Madness Grand Final”

And then there were four! We move out of the regional divisions and into the Semi Final of this year’s March Madness, the Battle of the Best Dressed in Middle-earth. Here’s how the table stands now:

Round Five – Final Four

So who triumphed in the Elite Eight? This was a nail biting round; this very post was drafted with certain costumes as winners, but then there was a late surge in voting and a couple of outfits made a comeback!

Beginning with the Humans and Maiar, a fully armoured Eomer was taking on Aragorn in ranger garb. This duel had the widest margin in the Quarter Final, with just under 60% of the vote going to Aragorn’s outfit. He’ll meet the Witchking in the Semi Final; in the Villains region, the Balrog was finally defeated, with the epic helm and long robes of the Witchking claiming about 10% more votes.

Continue reading “Middle-earth March Madness Semi Final”

Guest writer Matthew Bossons brings us this fascinating look at how Tolkien fandom has made its way to China; and he reflects on whether Amazon’s upcoming Middle-earth series is likely to find fans there.

Panjiayuan is Beijing’s biggest and best-known antique market, regularly attracting orc-like hordes of tourists and locals alike to wander the warren of booths and stalls, both indoor and outside. All manner of old and made-to-look-old items are on offer here: jade carvings, stone Buddha statues, ancient coins, Chinese Communist Party pins and propaganda posters, replica Korean war medals and mounds of books. 

On a brisk October day, while standing at a hawker stand specializing in old Chinese books – mostly Chairman Mao’s iconic ‘Little Red Book’ – I came across a curious title: The Art of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, in English-language and hardcover form. The book, a collection of sketches and maps made by Tolkien, was published in 2015 and compiled by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull – both well-known scholars of the ‘father of high fantasy.’

Cover of 'The Art of the Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien' - by Wayne G Hammond and Christina Scull
Continue reading “From Middle-earth to the Middle Kingdom: How Tolkien’s Grand Mythos Found Its Way to China”

Quarter Final time! Only the Elite (or Elegant?) Eight remain in the Battle of the Best Dressed in Middle-earth; one final round in the region divisions. Here’s the latest table:

The bracket for Middle-earth March Madness 2021, showing the costumes which have made it into the Elite Eight round.
Round Three – Sweet Sixteen

Let’s take a look at the Round Three results; starting with the Villains this time. The Mouth of Sauron was no match for the Balrog, only managing to muster a third of the vote; and the regular Witchking took 70%, to crush his Twilight self. This means we’ll see the ruler from Angmar taking on the demon of the ancient world in the Quarter Final; and just to prove that there are Balrog cosplays, here’s a brilliant one from a TORn staffer:

TORn staffer Rasputin created an amazing cosplay as a Balrog showgirl - complete with sparkly costume, and horned headdress with red and orange plumes. And what looks like wings...!
Staffer Rasputin looks incredible as a Balrog showgirl
Continue reading “Middle-earth March Madness Quarter Final”