×

New Zealand Diversifies Production

Int’l TV shoots and local indies, boosted by gov’t funds, help ignite country’s biz

New Zealand may be one of the top territories successfully luring big-budget productions, but the rest of its film and TV sector is firing on all cylinders as well.

For the first time, the industry’s earnings have broken the NZ$3 billion ($2.34 billion) barrier, rising by 10% in 2012. This was driven by a 47% increase in feature film revenue and the post-production biz saw a 31% boost year-on-year. James Cameron, with his “Avatar” pics, is reportedly relocating to the outskirts of Wellington, while Jane Campion’s miniseries “Top of the Lake” shot in New Zealand.

Those numbers speak to the depth of crew in the country.

Outgoing New Zealand Film Commission CEO Graeme Mason (who leaves to head up Screen Australia in November) notes that while Peter Jackson’s success has helped create a world-class infrastructure — including Weta Digital and Workshop, which have worked on many of the top blockbusters over the past few years including “Iron Man” and “The Avengers” — there’s more to the country’s production sector.

Rob Tapert has been an incredible force, making ‘Hercules,’ ‘Xena’ and ‘Spartacus’ fixtures here for years,” says Mason.

The country’s Toronto-bound pics also point to the broad range of projects coming out of New Zealand.

“Beyond the Edge” is a 3D pic about Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s 1953 ascent of Mt. Everest. Pic was filmed on location in the Southern Alps of New Zealand, the Himalayas and Mt. Everest, and post-production was undertaken in Auckland by Digital Post. Altitude Film Entertainment reps international sales.

Then there’s local medicine-woman drama “White Lies,” produced by “Whale Rider’s” John Barnett and penned and helmed by Dana Rotberg, as well as performance pic “Giselle,” toplining Gillian Murphy, the prima ballerina with the American Theatre Ballet.

With an annual budget of around $15.5 million — a mix of government and lottery funding — the New Zealand Film Commission is responsible for plowing coin into feature pics, developing local talent and administering the Large Budget Screen Production Grant (a 15% grant on qualifying expenditure), the Post Digital and Visual Effects Grant (15% cash award) and the Screen Production Incentive Fund (40% cash grant of qualifying expenditure).

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Pod Save America Hosts on Trump

    'Pod Save America' Hosts on Trump, the Democratic Primary and What's Wrong With Cable News

    Like many Democrats, Tanya Somanader was blindsided by the 2016 presidential election. A veteran of the Obama White House and a former speechwriter and digital specialist for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Somanader was gearing up for a Hillary Clinton administration. Instead, she had to grapple with the reality of a Donald Trump presidency. “A lot [...]

  • Ann Sarnoff Warner Bros

    Ann Sarnoff Formally Takes Reins of Warner Bros. as CEO

    The Ann Sarnoff era at Warner Bros. has begun. Sarnoff formally took the reins as Warner Bros. chair-CEO on Thursday, two months after she was appointed to the post. Sarnoff told employees in a memo that she has been impressed by the company’s track record during the past year amid a period of upheaval for [...]

  • Former movie producer Harvey Weinstein (L)

    Harvey Weinstein to Be Arraigned on New Indictment

    Harvey Weinstein is set to appear in court on Monday for an arraignment on a new indictment, the Manhattan D.A.’s office said Thursday. Prosecutors announced last week that they would seek a fresh indictment, which would allow actress Annabella Sciorra to testify at Weinstein’s trial. The move came after Justice James Burke ruled on Aug. [...]

  • AI Technology David Beckham

    How AI Tech Is Changing Dubbing, Making Stars Like David Beckham Multilingual

    David Beckham does not speak Arabic, Hindi or Mandarin. But when the soccer legend starred in a PSA for malaria awareness this spring, he effortlessly switched among these and six other languages, thanks to cutting-edge technology that could soon change how Hollywood localizes its movies and TV shows. The PSA in question was produced with technology [...]

  • Eminem’s Publisher Sues Spotify, Claiming Copyright

    Eminem’s Publisher Sues Spotify, Claiming Massive Copyright Infringement

    Eminem’s publishing company Eight Mile Style filed a major copyright infringement lawsuit against Spotify late Thursday, claiming that the streaming giant has no license to host about 250 of Eminem’s songs, while also taking aim at the Music Modernization Act, the federal law enacted last year to improve royalty payments for songwriters. The news was [...]

  • iQIYI headquarters building in Beijing

    China’s iQIYI in Talks for Indonesia Expansion

    Chinese streaming firm iQIYI is in negotiations to expand further into Southeast Asia through a venture with Indonesia’s Media Nusantara Citra. iQIYI announced its first step outside Chinese-majority territories in June, when it revealed a linkup in Malaysia with pay-TV leader Astro. It also operates in Taiwan. In April, the company said that it planned [...]

  • Spotify logo is presented on a

    Spotify Triples Free-Trial Period on Premium Service

    Spotify today extended the free-trial period for its Premium service from one month to three, tripling the amount of time listeners can take full advantage of the streaming giant’s offerings without paying for them. According to the announcement, the offer is “always-on/not limited time,” and will roll out across Spotify Premium plans globally: Individual and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content