They are both approximately 2,000 square metres (22,000 square feet). The expansion means that AFS, long a work-horse of the New Zealand production industry, now has five stages totalling more than 7,500 square metres (80,700 square feet).
The year-long construction project was made possible by NZ$30 million of funding from the New Zealand federal government, with the remaining NZ$7.5 million from studio owner Auckland Council.
Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown joined the federal Minister for Arts, Culture & Heritage, Carmel Sepuloni, in opening the two new stages at a ceremony on Thursday.
Matt Horrocks, manager at location attraction agency Screen Auckland, says the new stages were built to meet the growing demand of the past five years for studio space and quality content. Recent projects at AFS have included “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” (Amazon Prime) and “Sweet Tooth” (Netflix).
Horrocks says that the new stages are already booked, with a production due to start work there in the new year. But he declined to disclose the name of the production.
“Auckland has earned a reputation for the world-class studios, coupled with highly-skilled crew,” said Horrocks. “These studios were designed with the input of senior screen producers who understand the needs of premium productions, making this an attractive proposition in a start-of-the-art space that is only 30 minutes’ drive from the city center and sought-after west Auckland coastline locations.”
As New Zealand has succeeded in attracting a high volume of international productions Auckland has added a number of new studios and stages. These include the Kumeu Studios (“Avatar,” “The Meg”); the X3 Studio, with four big stages, two of which can join up to become a mega stage, opened in 2019; and a large purpose-built stage at Studio West, which had previously served as an overspill facility.
Sound stage space in Auckland has grown to more than 32,000 square metres (almost 345,000 square feet) in the past decade, Screen Auckland says.
“Auckland is proud to have played a critical role in the development of New Zealand’s screen production industry. The two new stages mean AFS can now cater for much larger single productions, or multiple smaller productions at once. They strengthen AFS and Auckland’s west as a screen destination at a time when New Zealand’s global reputation for big budget productions is growing,” said Brown.