New Zealand's Film and TV Production Revenues Fell in 2018

Disney's MULAN - Yifei Liu - Publicity-H 2018
Stephen Tilley/Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Bright spots in the country's annual screen sector survey showed an increase in the value of the post-production sector, as well as an increase in employment.

Revenues from the film and television sector in New Zealand hit $2.2 billion (NZ$3.3 billion) in the financial year that closed in June 2018, with production revenue contributing $675 million to that total, according to new figures released Tuesday by Statistics New Zealand. 

Production revenues for both domestic and international film and TV fell 20 percent year on year, from a record high of $843 million in 2017. 

Overall, the sector took a hit of $181 million year on year. However, post-production was a bright spot, with revenues increasing $87 million to $503 million, thanks to work on films such as Avengers: Infinity War, Mortal Engines, and Alita: Battle Angel.

The total figure includes revenues from broadcasting, production, post-production, exhibition and distribution. 

“We had a big year in 2017 for film production, while in 2018 we saw a cooling of production work,” Statistics NZ business performance manager Geraldine Duoba said. “Although there were fewer films, those being worked on in New Zealand over the 2018 year included Mission: Impossible – FalloutDaffodils, and Mulan.”

Peter Jackson’s Mortal Engines and shark thriller The Meg were also made in New Zealand during 2018. 

Production on the new Avatar films is expected to start in the country before the end of the current financial year, while production wrapped earlier this month on Fremantle's TV series adaptation of Eleanor Caton’s The Luminaries for the BBC. 

The fall in the value of production from a record high in 2016-17 is indicative of the cyclical nature of the screen industry, according to NZFC CEO Annabelle Sheehan. 

The current fiscal year, however, will see an upturn in revenues alongside long-term continued growth, she noted. 

“Looking at the data over time, not just year on year, the screen sector shows sustained growth,” Sheehan said.  

“The 2018-19 year is already looking very strong. Eight local feature films have already gone into production. We also saw big increases in international series drama from late 2018. So far, 20 international features, drama and factual series have committed to New Zealand for the 2018-19 year.”

Meanwhile, the value of traditional television continued to shrink, as broadcasting revenue fell $103 million to $810 million in 2018, likely due to “audiences shifting from pay TV, to the newer online-based TV streaming platforms such as Netflix and Lightbox,” Duoba said.

In addition, the survey showed increased regional production outside the main centers, particularly in the country’s South Island, while employment data showed an increase to the number of screen sector jobs and people employed in the sector.