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Steven Joyce, Christopher Finlayson

16 December, 2013

Three Avatar films to be made in New Zealand

The Government today announced it has signed a memorandum of understanding with Lightstorm Entertainment and Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation that will see the next three Avatar films made in New Zealand.

The announcement was made by Prime Minister John Key, Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Christopher Finlayson at Wellington alongside Avatar Director James Cameron, Producer Jon Landau, and Twentieth Century Fox Film co-President of Worldwide Theatrical Marketing and Distribution Paul Hanneman.

“This is excellent news for the New Zealand screen industry. The Avatar sequels will provide hundreds of jobs and thousands of hours of work directly in the screen sector as well as jobs right across the economy,” Mr Joyce says. 

“They will be a very big boost to the screen industry while we look to develop more New Zealand-sourced productions.”

The MoU follows the separate announcement today by the Government that it is boosting screen production incentives for both overseas and New Zealand productions to encourage more film and TV to be made in New Zealand and the development of a more sustainable New Zealand screen industry.

This includes raising the baseline rebate from 15 per cent to 20 per cent. Productions will get points for specific benefits to New Zealand, which may entitle some to an extra 5 per cent rebate.

Provided the new Avatar films fulfil the requirements set out in the MoU, they will qualify for a total rebate of 25 per cent.

The MoU provides:

  • A commitment by both parties to grow the screen sector in New Zealand and to building a long term and productive relationship between the Crown and Lightstorm/Twentieth Century Fox.
  • Spending of at least NZ$500 million on production activity in New Zealand, including most of the live action shooting and visual effects. 
  • Employment and skills opportunities for New Zealanders, including in Head of Department roles. Around 90 per cent of live action crew are expected to be New Zealanders.  Alongside this, an internship programme will be supported. 
  • New Zealand hosting at least one official red carpet premiere, and a featurette on New Zealand being included in DVDs and Blu Rays. 
  • An offer by James Cameron and Jon Landau to serve as founding members of a new screen advisory board, which will provide advice and guidance to New Zealand screen and film makers looking to succeed internationally.
  • Marketing and promotion of New Zealand and its film industry alongside the three Avatar films, transferring technological know-how to New Zealanders, and retaining screen production infrastructure in New Zealand that could be used for industry training. 

“The filming of the Avatar films will be of substantial benefit to New Zealand economically and culturally,” Mr Finlayson says.

“Besides the confidence being shown in the talented people who work in the our screen industry, the commitment by James Cameron, Lightstorm and Twentieth Century Fox to work with the Government to help grow the local industry is significant and will help ensure it is sustainable longer term.”

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