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Govt sweetens film incentives, winning 3 more Avatar movies

Monday 16th December 2013

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The government has sweetened its incentive scheme for blockbuster movies as a means to win over Lightsource Entertainment and Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp to make the next three instalments of the Avatar series in New Zealand.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Chris Finlayson today signed a memorandum with 20th Century Fox and Lightstorm ensuring director James Cameron will shoot the next three Avatar films in New Zealand after the government lifted its large budget screen production grant to 20 percent from 15 percent.

The movies will also qualify for an additional rebate of 5 percent, taking the full incentive to a 25 percent rebate for spending of at least $500 million. In return, the Hollywood producers will ensure all of the principal filming, at least 90 percent of visual effects and post-production on at least one movie will take place locally.

The memorandum of understanding also ensures employment for locals, hosting at least one red carpet premiere and including a short feature on New Zealand on DVD and Blu Ray versions of the films.

Cameron, who is about to become a New Zealand resident, told a briefing in Wellington if the incentives hadn't been lifted, the producers would have had to look at other nations with more attractive schemes.

"I'm glad it never came to that," Cameron said.

Prime Minister John Key and Cabinet ministers Joyce and Finlayson made the announcement at the New Zealand Film Commission, accompanied by director Cameron, producer Jon Landau and Twentieth Century Fox Film co-president of worldwide theatrical marketing and distribution Paul Hanneman.

"It's practical, it's pragmatic and I think it will work," Key said.

Joyce said Cameron and Landau will personally take on roles to help foster local film-making talent, taking seats on a new advisory board to help build a more sustainable industry.

The government separately today said it is combining its Large Budget Screen Production Grant (LBSPG) and Screen Production Incentive Fund (SPIF) into a single scheme called the New Zealand Screen Production Grant.

Existing rebates of 15 percent for the LBSPG and up to 40 per cent for the SPIF will be replaced by two rebates - 20 percent plus an extra 5 percent for productions that meet special criteria and up to 40 percent for New Zealand productions.

The new incentive scheme aims to support New Zealand productions between $15 million and $50 million.

Joyce said the Avatar incentive is seen "as a short-to-medium-term solution, with the long-term solution building up our strong creative IP (intellectual property) in this country along with the international work."

 

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