During COVID-19, New Zealand is a Sought-After Destination for Filmmaking

Where will Netflix’s Narnia adaptations be filmed?

Filmmaking around the world came to an abrupt halt in March, but thanks to their strict response to COVID-19, New Zealand has almost completely eradicated the virus — and this makes the island country an increasingly attractive destination for making films.

New Zealand is keeping its borders closed to fend off further outbreak, but some film projects and their cast and crew are being granted special entry. After going on hiatus in March, Amazon Studios now plans to return to New Zealand this September and resume filming its “Lord of the Rings” television series, according to a report from Deadline. About 250 people involved with a handful of television series and films have received the border exemptions necessary to enter the country.

“Our success at managing COVID-19 gives our country an opportunity to become one of the few countries still able to safely produce screen content, and the inquiries and interest we are getting from international production houses tells me that the international film community sees New Zealand as something of a global safe haven.”

New Zealand Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford

Walden Media’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and sequel Prince Caspian were both filmed extensively in New Zealand. Will Netflix return there for its upcoming Narnia adaptations? It’s too soon to say, but in the meantime, it looks like the gears of the film industry are starting to turn again on the North and South Islands.

Where do you think Netflix’s Narnia adaptations should be filmed? How might COVID-19 affect this? Share your thoughts in the comments below or our discussion forums.

16 Responses

  1. Cleander says:

    Well of course when a pandemic strikes everyone wants to escape to Narnia!!
    I’m actually more in favor of locations in places like Britain and other European countries, just because that’s the kind of scenery which inspired Lewis. And there are also plenty of real castles for them to use!
    Happy 4th, y’all!

    • coracle says:

      May I be a bit cheeky and point out that Walden didn’t use any real castles? They built all the ones they used, including the Witch’s house, Cair Paravel (both versions) and Miraz’s castle. (BBC used Haddon Hall, Derbyshire, in Silver Chair, but I can’t recall where else they used for locations.)

  2. Courtenay says:

    Absolutely nothing against New Zealanders, of course (I’m from the other side of the Tasman), but isn’t it getting to be a bit of a cliche to use NZ as a filming location for fantasy epics??? I can see the point (the scenery is breathtaking and reasonably “unspoilt”), but I agree with Cleander, it’d be nice to see at least some locations in Britain or Ireland or perhaps somewhere else in Europe when it comes to a new version of Narnia. Of course, mind you, with CGI these days it almost doesn’t matter where something is filmed, because they can turn the background into almost anything…

  3. Wanderer Between Worlds says:

    I don’t know much about the topography/geography of NZ, but would it be possible to film in a location that doesn’t scream LoTR (I don’t know the extensiveness of their location filming)? I think filming in NZ would only compound the issue of “Narnia is just another LoTR, GoT, fantasy clone.” Also, the Walden and Andrew Adamson already filmed LWW and PC in NZ, and I think Netflix should strive to make themselves distinct (even in the filming location).

    I agree with Cleander and Courtenay that the UK/Ireland/Europe would be a good location, especially to set the tone that Lewis was trying to create. Also, would filming in the UK/Ireland/Europe possibly be cheaper than flying the cast to NZ? I don’t know much about film production, though. Regardless, it will be interesting to see where Netflix chooses to film.

  4. Geekicheep says:

    I agree as well; NZ is beautiful, but IMO just the fact that the previous version of Narnia was done there is enough of a reason not to (not to mention LoTR and probably others). And yes, it would be much more fitting to use locations in at least the same continent as the author would make sense (lol).

    When COVID hit, my family and I were looking for something to watch, and I introduced them to the show “Merlin” – and now they’re hooked. But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard them say, “gosh! I love the scenery!” Then last night, the characters went to a castle (not Camelot/Chateau Pierre LeFonze, but another one – it was in Ireland I think) and my mom said, “looks like the Wicked Witch’s castle!” My thought was, “or the White Witch’s, or Miraz’s.” 😀

    So yeah, nothing against NZ, but I agree that Europe is the way to go for Netflix’s version.

    • coracle says:

      New Zealand locations were only used for some parts of the first film, a very small part of the second, and none of the third. There are still plenty of places here that have not been in LOTR, Hobbit or LWW/PC.

    • EH says:

      The Merlin show filmed in GB and France because the BBC tries to stay local for their productions. We’ve seen Europe a lot in movies in general and many of the castles are not in good repair or are surrounded by modern buildings. If they really want to have something that doesn’t fit the traditional western fantasy they could film in Taiwan. Taiwan already has a large film industry but very few western movies are filmed there. Or they could be very pioneering and film in South America or Africa. That would be fascinating.

  5. Keeper of Lantern Waste says:

    If the LoTR and Narnia movies are true, then New Zealand is beautiful. However, I think it would be cool to have a change for Netflix.

    I don’t know too much about possible European locations, but for places in the US, I think Lake Superior’s coast would be a cool idea. It’s absolutely stunning in winter for LWW and feels super wild and untamed.

    • Larry W. says:

      I used to travel to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for vacations, and I was amazed at how much it looked like Narnia. The shores of Lake Superior are mostly natural and wild. The summers are really beautiful (it’s not always winter there and they do have Christmas). The U.P. of Michigan is much colder than England so it might be more difficult to film during winter. Much as I love that area (it has much of Narnia’s natural beauty), probably the best location would be the U. K. since it is the most like Narnia. And of course the British Isles are the most authentic. The old BBC series had the right outdoor locations with the medieval castles, although the newer technology which is currently available could probably show the landscapes in much higher definition. 🙂

  6. Frodo Lives says:

    They won’t let reindeer into their country for movie-business (for fear of animal disease), yet they’ll let outsiders in for movie-business (during a man-made pandemic). Huh. 😉

    • This feels interesting to me, Kind regards to the five of us here.

      Yelena Karadzhova.
      Liliya Ivanova.
      Kim Cattrall.
      Lauren Ashley Carter.
      Anastasia Orlova.

    • coracle says:

      As a resident of New Zealand could I explain that we have a huge dairy industry here, and so we have to protect it from Bovine Tuberculosis, which reindeer can carry. It should be easy to film reindeer scenes in a different country. Walden just used CGI.
      (we have no native mammals, only those brought in by Polynesians and Europeans in the last 800 years)

      • EH says:

        This is good to learn. It’s hard to imagine a place with no mammals. Are there any native marsupials in NZ?
        There is a similar problem in the United States. Most of the bison are infected with a disease called brucellosis that causes miscarriages, but we cannot just cull the ones that are infected because then the bison would not be as genetically diverse and we could lose the species forever, so cows and bison have to be kept separate.

  7. Janet Fookes says:

    The main reason film makers like NZ is the wide variety in the scenery. Practically any type of scenery can be found within the small islands (except perhaps an equivalent of the Grand Canyon. )

  1. July 4, 2020

    […] New Zealand is keeping its borders closed to fend off further outbreak, but some film projects and their cast and crew are being granted special entry. After going on hiatus in March, Amazon Studios now plans to return to New Zealand this September and resume filming its “Lord of the Continue reading at source website […]