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Minister defends Kiwi film subsidies

Treasury report charged Hollywood films of bankrupting state

Kiwi Economic Development Minister Gerry Brownlee has defended New Zealand’s film subsidies, slamming a report by the Treasury that big Hollywood productions leave the country in the red.

The report said big-budget runaways like James Cameron’s “Avatar” had cost the Kiwi economy $NZ36 million ($25 million) the previous year. It also warned about renewing the current scheme, which gives a 15% rebate to big productions.

“This report is a sloppy piece of work by people who relied largely on their own prejudices,” Brownlee told Variety. “They lack creativity and they fail to see the wider benefits.”

Brownlee added that he has commissioned a more far reaching report to support his claims and that the strong Kiwi film industry is proof that government coin is working.

“I am in full support of the Large Budget Screen Production Grant and I have no intention of changing it,” he added. He also pointed to the much larger development money spent on the tourism sector.

Film New Zealand topper Gisella Carr agreed. “The government is well aware of the economic and industry development value for New Zealand in being a significant center of international film production,” Carr said.

New Zealand has seen a Peter Jackson-led boom in recent years with “The Lovely Bones,” and “The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn.” “The Hobbit” is also slated to shoot there when it finds a new helmer after the recent departure of Guillermo del Toro — and Weta studios recently landed the Ray Giggs’ produced “Wind in the Willows.”

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