New Zealand Gives Peter Jackson's 'Mortal Engines' Grant For Boosting Economy

Mortal Engines Trailer - Screenshot - H 2017

The discretionary award of 5 percent is on top of the 20 percent cash incentive the film receives under the New Zealand Screen Production Grant.

Peter Jackson’s next feature, Mortal Engines, is to receive an additional 5 percent grant on top of the New Zealand Screen Production Grant (NZSPG) incentive it has used following a deal between Universal Pictures, MRC and Hungry City Limited and New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) and Education New Zealand (ENZ) announced Tuesday.

Mortal Engines, starring Robert Sheehan and Hugo Weaving and directed by Jackson protege Christian Rivers, was filmed entirely in New Zealand this year, making it eligible for the NZSPG, under which international productions can access a cash grant of 20 percent of Qualifying New Zealand Production Expenditure. Some productions may be invited to apply for a 5 percent uplift in the grant if they demonstrate a considerable economic benefit to NZ.

The additional 5 percent will allow a detailed marketing partnership with NZFC and ENZ to promote New Zealand’s screen and education interests.

Jackson co-wrote the screenplay for Mortal Engines with Fran Walsh. It's being produced by Jackson, Walsh, Zane Weiner, Amanda Walker and Deborah Forte.  Based on the YA fantasy novels by Phillip Reeve, Mortal Engines is set in the world of the Traction Era, where mobile cities fight for survival in a post-apocalyptic future.

Principal photography took place over 16 weeks in Wellington, New Zealand. The film was shot at Stone Street and Avalon Studios and local exterior locations. Postproduction is currently underway at Park Road Post with visual effects work being done by Weta Digital.

More than 1,000 New Zealanders — including crew, cast and craftspeople — were contracted during principal photography. Nearly all of the head of departments were Kiwis, as were 98 percent of the crew. New Zealanders also feature heavily in front of the camera, with more than 70 percent of the 50 speaking roles going to New Zealanders.

NZFC chief executive Dave Gibson said “Mortal Engines gives us the opportunity to profile the New Zealand screen industry on the world stage — including our talented pool of actors, experienced crew and facilities.  In doing so, this showcases that New Zealand can cater for large-scale full-service productions”.

Disney’s Mulan will shoot in NZ in the second half of 2017, while Weta Digital is in preproduction on the Avatar prequels.  

ENZ chief executive Grant McPherson added that the partnership with Mortal Engines and the NZFC provides an exceptional opportunity to build brand awareness of New Zealand as a high-quality education destination for international students.

Mortal Engines opens worldwide in December 2018.