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Filming revenue drops in New Zealand capital

Film production revenue dropped in the New Zealand capital Wellington last year, according to a new report.

Wellington is the country’s feature production centre and home to Stone Street Studios and Peter Jackson’s filmmaking empire. However, new figures from Statistics New Zealand show movie revenue in the city fell by 55% last year.

Television production in the northern city of Auckland – New Zealand’s TV hub with facilities like Auckland Film Studios (pictured) – had a much stronger year, increasing by NZ$150m on the previous year. Overall, the country’s television success in fact helped push revenue from international shoots to a 4% rise, despite the big localised decrease in Wellington film production.

“In particular, there was strong growth in revenue from Asian countries and from Australia, while revenue from North America decreased,” said Nicola Growden, a senior manager at Statistics New Zealand.

The number of international co-productions shot in New Zealand increased by a third in 2015, although most of these involved Australian partners.

New Zealand has faced challenges sustaining its international production appeal since Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy wrapped, despite an increase to the country's filming incentive two years ago.

The country has hosted sporadic high-profile Hollywood shoots over the past year, including a remake of Disney’s children’s fantasy Pete’s Dragon, while the live-action version of Japanese manga series Ghost in the Shell is currently shooting, doubling the country for Japan. James Cameron is working on back-to-back Avatar sequels, again using Wellington as a base.

New Zealand faces intense competition from Australia, which has recently hosted Pirates of the Caribbean 5 and will soon welcome Marvel’s Thor 3 among its high-profile Hollywood shoots. North American and European production hubs are also serving to pull attention away from New Zealand with strong filming incentives and favourable exchange rates.

For more on filming in New Zealand see our production guide.

Image: Auckland Film Studios