Study: New Zealand’s Film Industry Worth $720M to Economy

Courtesy of Atsushi Nishijima/Disney
Disney's 'A Wrinkle In Time' was shot on New Zealand's South Island.

The International New Zealand Screen Production Grant is a key contributor to the nation’s economy, according to a new report.

The New Zealand screen industry contributes around NZ$1.05 billion ($718 million) to real GDP and around $483 million to exports annually, according to a new economic study released by the New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC).

Economic modeling done by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER), based on the most recent available data (2015), estimates that without the industry’s major incentive, the International New Zealand Screen Production Grant (NZSPG), exports would shrink by $175 million, household consumption by $98 million and real GDP by $120 million per annum.

“This is the first time NZIER modelling has been applied to the screen industry and it shows the very positive contribution of the New Zealand Screen Production Grant to the New Zealand economy, and as such demonstrates it is an effective industry policy,” said Todd Krieble, principal economist at NZIER.

The NZSPG, introduced in 2014, encourages medium- to large-budget productions to shoot in New Zealand. International productions can access a cash grant of 20 percent of Qualifying New Zealand Production Expenditure. Post digital and visual effects projects are also eligible. Some productions may be invited to apply for a 5 percent uplift in the grant.

One such production to use the NZSPG was Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time, which shot on location on New Zealand’s South Island, including Lake Hawea and Aoraki/Mount Cook, and is set for release in March. While in production, the cast showcased New Zealand on their social media channels, providing an estimated organic reach of over 86 million people. 

Disney also is making its latest live-action feature, Mulan, directed by Niki Caro, at the new Kumeu Film Studios in Auckland, according to local reports. Two new soundstages are being built at the studios, the development of which is a four-way partnership between Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development; NZFC; Warner Bros. Pictures; and Gravity Pictures and has been assisted by the 5 percent uplift in the NZSPG.

The report was commissioned by NZFC and funded by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE), Ministry for Culture and Heritage (MCH), New Zealand on Air, Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency (WREDA) and Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED).

NZFC CEO Dave Gibson said the report will be updated annually “so we can continue to tell the industry’s story and respond accordingly to the industry’s changing landscape.”