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New Zealand's new tax incentives instantly pay off with Avatar

Next three James Cameron Avatar films shooting post production in New ZealandNew Zealand has introduced new screen incentives bringing more financial assistance for mid-budget level national productions and encouraging more international productions to do business in the country. The move instantly paid off when James Cameron announced he will use the country as the production hub for his next three Avatar movies.

As the tax rebate went up from 15% to 20% for international film and television productions, filming in the country - which has an array of amazing locations seen in films such as Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy and Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin - becomes instantly more attractive for filmmakers.

An added 5% will be available for international productions that deliver significant economic benefits to New Zealand. Eligibility will be assessed through a points system, details of which are to be released in the coming weeks.

In an agreement with the New Zealand government, the first one to benefit from this is Cameron. He announced that his three upcoming Avatar films will spend at least NZ $500m (US $412m) in the country in return for a tax rebate of 25%.

Cameron said he expects the films to be released over three consecutive Decembers, starting in 2016.

Local productions will continue to be able to access 40%, which will now be extended to television and productions with larger budgets. The two-tiered system will take the form of a rebate on productions up to NZ $15m qualifying New Zealand production expenditure (QNZPE) and equity on productions between NZ $15m and NZ $50m QNZPE.

The changes are the result of combining the previously existing Screen Production Incentive Fund and Large Budget Screen Production Grant to form the New Zealand Screen Production Grant, an uncapped fund.

The New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) and Film New Zealand (which provides locations information, introductions and support to both international and local filmmakers) have said they welcome the changes.

“This sends a strong message internationally that New Zealand is competitive and that the screen sector is backed by the New Zealand Government,” said chair of Film New Zealand, Julian Grimmond. “When combined with New Zealand’s reputation for talent, and some significant cost advantages, it makes a convincing argument for international production to come here.”

NZFC chair Patsy Reddy said: “These changes will enable larger scale New Zealand productions to be made as well as encouraging more New Zealand stories to be seen on screen. The growth in New Zealand’s screen sector will lead to the development of more screen businesses, successful careers and employment.”

To find out more about filming in New Zealand and its production incentives, pleases visit our New Zealand production guide.

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