Is New Zealand now akin to the Hollywood of the Pacific? In recent years, film production has been booming in NZ. According to a reckoning by Radio New Zealand, as many as 30 TV dramas and movies were being filmed across the country as of August 2022. And both Kiwi actors and film crews are relishing this golden era. But how exactly did New Zealand become such a magnet for directors and producers across the board? Let’s dive right into it.
When it comes to producing a movie, there is no denying money is of the essence. And the NZ government has long played this asset to its advantage. Shooting in New Zealand, indeed, comes with many financial perks attached.
While most countries deliver tax credits for visiting movies, live-action international productions benefit from a 20% cash rebate on qualifying NZ production expenditure. All it takes for producers is to meet a handful of eligibility criteria. International production entities may even be eligible for another 5% rebate if they can prove their movie will benefit the local economy through arts and culture.
An unparalleled array of scenic locations
The shooting of blockbuster movies usually spans multiple continents, as few countries boast every single landscape required to bring the envisioned story to the big screen. Few countries, but New Zealand.
From futuristic-looking cityscapes to staggering glaciers and turquoise shores to lush forests, NZ is the whole package. Hence, the country is a dream come true for location scouts. And crews are only too happy not to fly from one country to the other repeatedly. Better yet, real-life locations need little CGI to shine on-screen.
Back in 1995, the producers of the American TV show Hercules: The Legendary Journeys decided to make the most of this unmatched versatility and shoot the series overseas. The success of the show helped put NZ on the map for Hollywood big shots. But it would take another six years for New Zealand to get an even more effective PR boost.
Evoking the Lord of the Rings movies conjures up images of barren wastelands overlooked by a fiery Great Eye, misty mountain passes, and rolling green hills inhabited by buoyant Hobbits. And Peter Jackson’s trilogy was all filmed in NZ. New Zealand, thus, became synonymous with Middle Earth.
Credit: Douglas Bagg – Unsplash
The lasting influence of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings
A native Kiwi, Peter Jackson made extensive use of his country’s stunning natural beauty to bring J.R.R Tolkien’s masterpiece to life. In so doing, Jackson gave tremendous impetus to the NZ movie industry. The digital visual effects company he created, Wētā, would win several awards and contribute to such worldwide hits as Avengers: Endgame and the Planet of the Apes franchise. The studio’s influence would reach as far as the gaming medium, leading Wētā Workshop to work hand-in-hand with major studios like Take-Two on Lord of the Rings titles.
Even the iGaming industry drew inspiration from Jackson to develop Middle Earth-themed slots, which Kiwi players may enjoy online. Free expert reviews such as a Casumo review help gamblers pick a casino to their liking. Casumo is an award-winning casino boasting as many classics as innovative games. The platform showcases hundreds of games from the best software providers. And lofty promotions are available weekly, from free spins to progressive jackpots.
The use of over 150 NZ locations in the LoTR and the Hobbit trilogies also jacked up local tourism as Tolkien fans flocked to New Zealand. And Jackson’s contribution to his country did not go unnoticed. While foreign producers quickly benefitted from his effort, the acclaimed filmmaker was knighted for his pivotal role in developing the Kiwi film industry.
New Zealand and cinema have proven a successful match for decades now. The country owes much to The Lord of the Rings and the visionary mind of Sir Peter Jackson. Amazon’s recent blockbuster TV show The Rings of Power even followed in Jackson’s footsteps by shooting all over New Zealand. But several motion pictures have paid equal tribute to the country’s breathtaking scenery over the years, from the Chronicles of Narnia to Mission Impossible: Fallout. And with the much-anticipated sequel to Avatar being shot on-location, the love affair between NZ and Hollywood is going as strong as ever.