New Zealand increases filming incentives and secures Avatar sequels
New Zealand has announced it will expand its national filming incentive programme and an agreement has also been reached to host James Cameron’s three Avatar sequels. From April 2014, big-budget international productions will be able to get a filming incentive of up to 25%.
The country’s existing Large Budget Screen Production Grant and the separate Screen Production Incentive Fund will merge to become the New Zealand Screen Production Grant. A base rebate of 20% will be available for international productions, with an extra 5% for shoots that deliver “significant economic benefits”. This will apply to the Avatar sequels.
The global screen industry is dynamic and rapidly changing and these new incentives will ensure we continue to attract overseas investment while at the same time developing our local screen industry.
New Zealand’s government has been under persistent pressure to increase the country’s international filming incentive programme to a figure more in line with its global competitors, so the development is a victory for the production industry.
Domestic New Zealand production is being supported with a rebate of 40% for eligible local shoots with budgets of up to NZD15 million. This figure will also be available for high-end TV shoots that satisfy a points-based cultural test.
“The global screen industry is dynamic and rapidly changing and these new incentives will ensure we continue to attract overseas investment while at the same time developing our local screen industry so more New Zealand-made stories can successfully compete on the international stage,” said Steven Joyce, New Zealand’s Economic Development Minister.
James Cameron’s Avatar sequels have in fact been confirmed with an official Memorandum of Understanding between the New Zealand government, Cameron’s production company Lightstorm Entertainment and Twentieth Century Fox.
Under the agreement, at least NZD500 million will be spent locally on the three movies and the vast majority of the crew will be New Zealanders. The country will host at least one of the red-carpet premieres and the films’ eventual DVD and Blu-ray releases will contain featurettes promoting New Zealand as a travel destination. Cameron and his producer Jon Landau will also offer advice to local filmmakers on how to succeed internationally.
“Besides the confidence being shown in the talented people who work in our screen industry, the commitment by James Cameron, Lightstorm and Twentieth Century Fox to work with the government to help grow the local industry is significant and will help ensure it is sustainable longer term,” added Christopher Finlayson, Minister for the Arts, Culture and Heritage.
Given the scale of the Avatar productions and the cutting-edge nature of the technology being used to make them, New Zealand’s short-term future as a production centre has been secured. A key test will be how successfully the country now appeals to additional large-scale productions in the face of such intense international competition.
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