Amazon Studios’ Lord of the Rings production should be filmed in Birmingham UK, Tolkien’s spiritual home – film expert

Amazon Studios’ £336m production of Lord of the Rings should be filmed in Birmingham, UK owing to the city’s close association with Tolkien, a film expert at Birmingham City University has said.

Frank Mannion, producer, director and Senior Lecturer in Film Marketing and Distribution, who is currently enjoying US and European success with his directorial debut, Sparkling: The Story of Champagne starring Stephen Fry, spoke following the news that the Peter Jackson-led production is moving from New Zealand to the UK.

“Ever since Tom Cruise successfully lobbied the Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, in July 2020, to ensure an exemption for film and TV production to allow Mission Impossible, Jurassic World to continue filming in the U.K. and independent production to restart, the industry here has boomed, demonstrating its capacity for innovation, resilience and the highest standards of on-set COVID security.

“When coupled with the government-backed £500m film and TV production insurance scheme, as well as the 20% production rebate, the U.K. is the most attractive filming location in Europe.

“I have produced and directed two feature documentaries (since Cruise’s intervention) that has availed of all these incentives. It was only a matter of time that the combination of these incentives would lead to significant inward investment from a media superpower such as Amazon.

The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogy author J R R Tolkien (1892-1973) spent much of his childhood in Worcestershire, now part of South Birmingham. A number of parts of the area’s green spaces and landmarks, such as Sarehole Mill, Moseley Bog, Perrott’s Folly and Edgbaston Waterworks Tower, are said to have inspired many elements of the bestselling and globally distributed books.

A film adaptation of each Lord of the Rings book, directed by Peter Jackson, was released in 2001, 2002, and 2003  going on to be regarded as one of the greatest, most influential and highest-grossing films series of all time.

In 2017, Amazon Studios announced it had acquired the rights to the Tolkien epic, committing to a multi-season series with potential spin-offs.

Sir Lenny Henry, Chancellor of Birmingham City University and actor, comedian, broadcaster and activist, was announced as joining the show’s cast in 2020.