American Film Market 2011: Territory Report

If you are looking for a home for your $200 million tentpole, perhaps you should consider New Zealand.

The changes to the Kiwi incentives have opened up the country’s Large Budget Screen Production Grant (LBSPG) to allow for an additional grant for very large productions ($200 million-plus) as a direct result of the tussle over the “The Hobbit” films last year, when Warner Bros. sought financial incentives to make the big-budget production more attractive.

Now, an additional $NZ9.75 million ($7.75 million) is available to these big productions, and this new grant covers expenditure that may be excluded under the current LBSPG rules.

This move merely formalizes the negotiations thrashed out by the government last year, when it fought to keep the Hobbit pics in N.Z., and is the same deal that Warner Bros. negotiated at the time.

New Zealand has also made its Screen Production Incentive Fund (SPIF) more accessible by lowering the threshold for features from $NZ4 million ($3.1 million) to $NZ2.5 million ($198,000). The SPIF aims to help low-budget, local filmmakers get a start and, as such, the pics are subject to a significant New Zealand content rule to make sure the stories have a local bias.

And given Warner Bros.’ decision to keep the “Hobbit” films in New Zealand, other productions can be assured of a crew that has plenty of international experience from Middle Earth right through to Narnia. This small island has a big reputation in special effect thanks to the efforts of favorite son Peter Jackson and his internationally renowned Weta Digital as well as a suite of boutique CGI operators to suit all budgets.

New Zealand Film Commission

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