Boost for film industry

Director Robert Sarkies (centre) and actors Hamish Blake (left) and Bret McKenzie at the premiere of Two Little Boys in Invercargill 2012. Photo: Southland Express files

MORE Hollywood blockbusters could be shot in Southland, with $303.9 million allocated in The Budget to support the New Zealand screen industry, both globally and domestically, Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay says.

Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges and Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Maggie Barry last week announced $222m over four years and $18m this year for the International Screen Production Grant to bring international productions to New Zealand.

Hollywood came to West Otago and Queenstown in 2015 for the filming of Pete’s Dragon

“Pete’s Dragon is a perfect example of how beneficial international productions can be for New Zealand,” Mr Barclay said.

“The paybacks to West Otago from filming have been ongoing. The production breathed new life into Tapanui with stores and buildings given a spruce-up as the town was transformed into the Midwestern town of Millhaven, locals played extras in the film and provided accommodation – it was embraced by everyone and benefitted the whole town.

“It was reported that several Tapanui businesses increased revenue by 80 to 90% during the month of filming in the town.”

The majority of cast and crew on Disney’s Pete’s Dragon were New Zealanders – 810 New Zealanders out of a crew of 1040 and 31 New Zealanders out of a cast of 40 – and 100% of the shoot took place in New Zealand.

Pete’s Dragon was the first Hollywood blockbuster to take advantage of the new, increased tax rebate package introduced by the National Government to help grow New Zealand’s film industry by attracting multi-million-dollar films and TV commercials to be shot here, Mr Barclay said.

The New Zealand Screen Production Grant will see $240m invested to help bring international productions to New Zealand. Up to $63.9m will be available to ensure the domestic component of the grant continues.

“Our screen industry has a reputation for being one of the best in the world and this funding helps the industry compete internationally for a wide range of projects which bring jobs and economic opportunities to New Zealand. Since 2014, this grant has supported around 50 international productions and the industry now employs 14,000 people working in more than 24,700 jobs or contracts.”

There were also flow-on effects for other industries, such as tourism, he said.

“Earlier this year, Yahoo Travel picked Pete’s Dragon movie locations as one of the ’10 fantastic reasons to visit New Zealand in 2017′. Tourists are fashioning their New Zealand itineraries specifically to take in some of the landscapes as seen from Elliot’s dragon’s-eye view,” Mr Barclay said.

“Clutha-Southland has welcomed international filming crews from the Lord of the Rings, Pete’s Dragon, The Light Between the Oceans, and A Wrinkle In Time – and all of these movies are testament to our scenic diversity and accessibility.

“We have a lot to offer and this funding will go a long way to ensure the further development of our industry.”

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