Kiwis reup rebates to attract epics

In 2005, scheme paid $33.3 mil for five projects

New Zealand has extended its film rebates to 2009 to attract more “King Kong”-sized movies.

The rebate was launched in 2003 to maintain Hollywood interest in New Zealand after the success of Peter Jackson’s Kiwi-shot “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

It offers a 12.5% rebate on a local spend of more than $NZ15million ($10 million) for any film that spends more than 70% of its budget in New Zealand.

The 70% barrier doesn’t apply if the local spend is more than $34 million.

Payments are made within three months of application.

In 2005 the scheme paid $33.3 million for five projects including Jackson’s “King Kong” for Warner Bros. (interim payout of $16.6 million) and Walden Media’s “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” ($10.3 million).

“Without incentives like this grant system, New Zealand wouldn’t be in the ballgame,” Economic Development Minister Trevor Mallard said Friday.

The government also will review how it markets New Zealand as a location.