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Kiwis eye new prod’n complex

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — A $NZ230 million ($ 129 million) film and TV production complex is planned for Christchurch, N.Z. When fully operative, it will be one of the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere. Initial backers of the facility, expected to be completed in five years, are prominent figures in the country’s entertainment industry.

The 148-acre complex — to be called Freemount Village — will mix production and post-production facilities with a performing arts academy, top-class accommodations and sporting amenities like an Olympic-size swimming pool, golf range, gymnasium and equestrian center.

The smallest of the five studios will be 3,200 square feet, the largest 26, 900 square feet — three times the size of the region’s current biggest facility , Avalon National Film Studios, owned by Television New Zealand, in Wellington.

Energy Conversion & Conservation Holdings Ltd. has been set up to develop the environment-friendly technology that will be used to run the complex.

Low production costs

Steve Parr, the head of Freemount Studios, the developer’s production arm, said last week the village/resort will provide a one-stop shop for local and foreign filmmakers drawn to the area by low production costs and spectacular scenery.

The biggest metropolitan area on New Zealand’s south island, Christchurch is near the southern Alps and the tourist mecca of Queenstown. It boasts an international airport just 20 minutes from the Freemount Village site.

The village will have a mix of public and private ownership and be powered by an energy and waste recycling system.

Freemount is confident of attracting investors from here and abroad to participate in the ownership and the operation of the facilities. Already involved in the design plans are New Zealand’s two biggest construction companies; Freemount has also held talks with key offshore distributor/producers Paramount Studios and Grundy Worldwide about the design and operation of the production facility.

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