The studio facility in Kumeu was initially developed for the filming of the Jon Turteltaub-directed movie. Starring Jason Statham and Li Bingbing in a tale of a submersible vehicle under attack from a mysterious sea creature, the production made use of the part-built facility’s two water tanks.
Leaving these behind for use by other film and TV productions enabled the film to qualify for New Zealand Screen Production Grant’s 5% uplift, a financial bonus only available to a handful of productions that can demonstrate significant economic benefits to the country.
“This private and public sector partnership recognizes the significant economic, cultural and industry development benefits that ‘Meg’ will bring to New Zealand,” said NZFC chief executive Dave Gibson. The film “also broadens the perception of the New Zealand screen industry by showcasing Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf and the depth of New Zealand cast and crew.”
With a budget estimated at $150 million, “Meg” is co-financed by Flagship Entertainment, Gravity Pictures, a division of China Media Capital (CMC), and Warner Bros. It was this week confirmed as releasing in August 2018. It was previously announced as opening in China at Chinese New Year 2018 through Gravity, and through Warner in March 2018.
The complex is built on private land in West Auckland and is backed by the New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC), Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), Warner Bros. Pictures and China’s Gravity Pictures. It will be operated under a 12-year lease by ATEED.
“It is great to have an additional facility in New Zealand, a place I know well. I love to produce films there,” said “Meg” executive producer Barrie Osborne (“Lord of the Rings”.)
When the complex is completed with its two sound stages in February 2018, Kumeu Film Studios will double Auckland’s screen studio infrastructure, and enable large scale screen productions in the region. The stages are both 2,336.3m2 (25,000ft2) and offer 14m (45.9ft) minimum internal height.
“While Auckland currently attracts large-scale production through its world class crew, production talent and locations, our full potential has been hampered by a lack of studio space, until now,” said ATEED chief executive, Brett O ‘Riley.
The 27ha site includes an indoor 5m deep, 1.3 million litre dive tank; and an outdoor 3m deep, 2.5 million litre ocean horizon tank backed by an 864 sq m green screen wall. The studio also has a 4,036 sq m ((43,448 ft2) stage, 1,215m2 (13,084 ft2) production offices, a 12 hectare (30 acres) forested back lot, and a 6,160m2 (66,305 ft2) workshop and manufacturing space.
“Meg” cast included acclaimed New Zealand performer Cliff Curtis, as the kiwi character Mac, a role which is both prominent and significant to the storyline. And the production also made use of Moxion.io, a New Zealand technology company, to provide access to dailies within New Zealand via a viewing platform for the film and TV market.