Universal Pictures’ “Mortal Engines” is to be given a 5% financial bonus by the New Zealand government.
The move, known as an uplift, is a discretionary grant, made only when a production can demonstrate significant and lasting economic benefit for the New Zealand industry. “Mortal Engines,” directed by local director Christian Rivers, was entirely shot in the country. Producers include Zane Weiner, Amanda Walker, Deborah Forte, Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson.
The “Mortal Engines” story takes place thousands of years after civilization was destroyed and in their place gigantic moving cities roam the earth. It features Robert Sheehan and Hera Hilmar as two opposites who form an unlikely alliance.
The decision to give the film a 5% uplift follows the signing of a contract between the New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC), Education New Zealand (ENZ) and film producers and financiers Universal Pictures, MRC and Hungry City. It entails a detailed marketing partnership with NZFC and ENZ to promote New Zealand’s screen and education interests.
New Zealand provides of the world’s most generous location incentive schemes and has succeeded in attracting major large-scale movies. International productions are eligible for a cash grant of 20% of qualifying New Zealand production expenditure. Movies using post production, digital and visual effects services can earn grants worth 20% worth of local expenditure up to US$17.5 million (NZ$25 million), and 18% above NZ$25 million.
“’Mortal Engines’ gives us the opportunity to profile the New Zealand screen industry on the world stage—including our talented pool of actors, experienced crew, and facilities. In doing so, this showcases that New Zealand can cater for large-scale, full-service productions,” said New Zealand Film Commission chief executive Dave Gibson.
Principal photography took place over 16 weeks in Wellington, New Zealand, shooting at Stone Street and Avalon Studios and a few small local exterior locations. Post-production is currently underway at Park Road Post Production with visual effects work ongoing at Weta Digital, ahead of a worldwide release in December 2018.
More than 1,000 New Zealanders, including crew, cast and craftspeople, were contracted during principal photography. Nearly all heads of departments and 98% of the crew were local. New Zealanders also feature heavily in front of the camera, with more than 70% of the 50 speaking roles going to New Zealanders.