New Zealand's Film Industry Worth $2.4 Billion (Report)

"The Hobbit"
"The Hobbit"
 Warner Bros.

SYDNEY -- The local screen industry contributed NZ$3 billion ($2.41 billion) in gross revenues to the New Zealand economy in 2011, an increase of 4 percent over 2010, fueled by a boost in feature film production, according to figures released this week by Statistics New Zealand in its annual Screen Industry Survey.

While some might point to the two mega-budget Hobbit movies which started production in March 2011, as a major contributor to those figures, Gisella Carr, the chief executive of locations marketing agency FilmNZ said the topline figure “is a testament to everyone in the screen industry playing their part, whether they are working on international or domestic production, or both.

“We could never have imagined the scale of these figures a generation ago. It is a testament to our screen entrepreneurs who are converting creative projects into economic headlines,” she said.

Feature film revenue rose 15 percent to more than $563 million, with 35 features completed in 2011 and more than 1,000 businesses contracted to provide services to film producers. That figure accounts for every one in $4 spent on production in New Zealand.

International revenue showed the first increase since 2008, rising over 17 percent to $311 million, with a 30 percent rise in revenue coming from North America.

“We are holding our own internationally, the level of revenue is increasing from year to year – despite a global recession and despite the fact that much of the screen industry runs on a project basis with breaks between activities,” Carr said. “We are now starting to see trends over time, and what is emerging is a picture of consistent growth and sustainability.”

Carr added that the North American market remains of major importance to New Zealand.

“Our key creatives and screen entrepreneurs are netting some big fish in terms of large scale international projects which are sustaining a large section of the industry. The figures are a strong indicator that international production companies see New Zealand as a safe pair of hands to make large scale international productions, and New Zealand is seen as business friendly.”

The report also showed that the underlying indicators are strong -- 180 screen businesses for example recorded more than $800,000 in revenue, an increase of 18 since last year.

And investment in film production increased by a third, to almost $200 million dollars in 2011.

The survey tracks revenue and other indicators across television broadcasting, feature film, TV and TV commercial production; and film and video exhibition and distribution.

Elsewhere, exhibition sector revenue rose 6 percent to $130 million – a figure boosted by the number of 3D films on offer and film and TV sales rose to $93 million – a five-fold increase, according to the report.

New Zealand Film Commission chief executive Graeme Mason said the report “highlights the determination of those making local films and working on international productions to make great movies. It also emphasizes the importance of the sector’s contribution to the New Zealand economy.”

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