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Pete’s Dragon given $20m NZ filming incentive

Pete's Dragon in NZDisney’s new version of family drama Pete’s Dragon secured a filming incentive of around NZ$20m to film on location in New Zealand.

The movie doubled the country for America’s Pacific Northwest to tell the story of a young orphan growing up in a secluded forest with a friendly dragon for company.

New Zealand’s Screen Production Grant offers a 20% cash grant for feature films that spend at least NZ$15m in the country, or for TV productions that spend a minimum of NZ$4m.

An additional 5% is available as a so-called ‘Uplift’ that “can demonstrate significant economic benefits to New Zealand”, as stated by the New Zealand Film Commission.

Pete’s Dragon stars Bryce Dallas Howard and Robert Redford (pictured) and is the first film to qualify for the extra support, according to Fairfax Media. 

Studio production for the movie took place at Stone Street Studios and Avalon Film and Television Studios, both in Wellington. Location filming also took place in the Rotorua and Tokoroa region of North Island, and in the town of Tapanui on the South Island.

MaryAnn Hughes, vice-president of Disney, told Fairfax that these location filming elements would not have been possible without the Uplift support.

Pete’s Dragon hired more than 800 New Zealanders as crew during the shoot and Tapanui’s main street was closed for a week to accommodate filming demands. All the movie’s visual effects were completed in New Zealand by Weta Digital, a company co-founded by filmmaker Peter Jackson.

To read KFTV’s interview with Pete’s Dragon location manager Clayton Tikao click here.

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

Image: Matt Klitscher / Disney Enterprises