×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘The Shannara Chronicles’ and More Take Advantage of New Zealand’s Tax Incentives

The big winners of a recent change to New Zealand production incentives will be local physical effects companies, as specialist props and models become qualifying spend for the first time.

“For international, the key change was dropping the PDV (post, digital and visual effects) threshold down to $500,000” from $1 million, says Catherine Bates, head of incentives at Film New Zealand. The Kiwis revamped the New Zealand Screen Production Grant — a 20% straight cash rebate — in April 2014, with a planned review to follow this year.

“For us, the incentive and the exchange rate — which improved since we began production — obviously made NZ very attractive,” says Al Gough, exec producer of MTV’s “The Shannara Chronicles.”

But a recent surge in the New Zealand dollar, which bounced back from a six-month low in August to rise nearly 6% in the past month, has made the incentive less attractive.

“For us, the incentive and the exchange rate obviously made NZ very attractive.”
Al Gough

Currency fluctuations are not the only cloud over the coin in recent years. Papers released to the Cabinet in 2013 suggested that Hollywood productions actually cost the country money.

That same year opposition parties tried to use Hollywood’s perceived sway over the John Key government for political gain. But Key was comfortably returned to power in 2014.

“Shannara’s” showrunners, Gough and Miles Millar, found compromise in an initial lack of flexibility over labor hours, a cultural difference where New Zealand has shorter working days than the U.S.

“We ended up adding a week to our schedule,” Miller says. “But that was the one drawback (to working in New Zealand). We got everything we needed.”

Bates also points to the 5% uplift. In addition to the 20% rebate, the extra coin from the uplift is for companies that are willing to go beyond just shooting in the country.

“The screen industry can have impacts in other areas, for example tourism, education and innovation,” Bates says.

More TV

  • THE BLACKLIST -- "Katarina Rostova (#3)"

    ‘The Blacklist’ Bosses on Delivering the 'Really Intense Family Drama That We've Been Promising for Seven Years'

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Katarina Rostova,” the midseason seventh season finale of “The Blacklist.” Since “The Blacklist” began it has been building towards a confrontation between Agent Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) and her biological mother, Katarina Rostova (Laila Robbins). That promised confrontation was front-and-center in the seventh season [...]

  • REEF BREAK - "Pilot" - When

    'Reef Break' Canceled After One Season at ABC

    “Reef Break” will not be back for a second season at ABC. The series debuted back in June on the broadcaster and aired 13 episodes, with the finale airing on Sept. 13. It starred Poppy Montgomery as Cat Chambers, Ray Stevenson as Jake Elliot, Desmond Chiam as Wyatt Cole, Melissa Bonne as Ana Dumont and [...]

  • Jeff Shell

    Jeff Shell: Who Is the NBCUniversal Heir Apparent?

    Analytical, decisive, loyal, fair, empowering. Those are just a few of the choice words industry insiders who have worked with incoming NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell — set to succeed current chief exec Steve Burke, as Variety exclusively reported — use to describe the longtime media exec.  On Universal’s North Hollywood lot, many insiders who work [...]

  • Reese Witherspoon Kerry Washington Little Fires

    TV News Roundup: Hulu Reveals 'Little Fires Everywhere' Premiere Date

    In today’s TV news roundup, Hulu announces a premiere date for “Little Fires Everywhere” and Variety exclusively obtains a first look at this year’s Christmas episode of “The Simpsons.” DATES “Little Fires Everywhere” will debut March 18, Hulu announced. Produced by Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine, Kerry Washington’s Simpson Street, and ABC Signature Studios, the show [...]

  • Watchmen Regina King Tim Blake Nelson

    How 'Watchmen' Pulled Off One of the Best TV Seasons of the Decade

    The first time Damon Lindelof realized that “Watchmen” — his adaptation/remix/continuation of the groundbreaking 1986 graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons — might actually be a hit was after the pilot debuted at New York Comic Con in October. In the following panel, the 46-year-old writer-producer could tell the audience was connecting with [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content