By Stephen Wright 
 

WELLINGTON, New Zealand--Amazon has secured a larger taxpayer subsidy from New Zealand for its Lord of the Rings production, which is expected to be the most expensive television series ever.

A quarter of the estimated 650 million New Zealand dollars ($466 million) to be spent in the South Pacific country by Amazon.com Inc on the show's first season will be subsidized, Economic Development Minister Stuart Nash said Friday, an increase from 20%.

The subsidies for Amazon, whose stock market value of $1.68 trillion is about eight times larger than the New Zealand economy, are "part and parcel of the international film game," Mr. Nash said in an interview with state-owned Radio New Zealand.

The New Zealand Taxpayers Union, which advocates for lower taxes, said the government could be "over a barrel" in future if the tech giant demands ever greater subsidies to keep its productions in New Zealand.

"Amazon is infamous for using its near-endless lobbying resources to play different governments off one another," it said in a statement.

Research had shown, Mr. Nash said, that New Zealand had got a significant tourism boost from director Peter Jackson's films based on J.R.R. Tolkien's books on the mythical Middle Earth.

Under an agreement with Amazon, New Zealand can use any footage in international tourism promotions, have interns on the production and get visits from Amazon staff to encourage innovation, according to Mr. Nash.

Amazon bought the small-screen rights for The Lord of The Rings for $250 million and the total cost of the production could exceed $1 billion, according to Hollywood Reporter.

 

Write to Stephen Wright at stephen.wright@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 15, 2021 19:50 ET (23:50 GMT)

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