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the the Lord of the Rings The film series provided one of the greatest tourism benefits this country has ever experienced – and now, with a new TV series based on the JRR Tolkien universe produced by Amazon, we are understandably keen to capitalize on our affiliation with Middle-earth.
But when does “lively” become “too lively”?
A long-standing investigation by Thing Senior political reporter Thomas Coughlan earlier this month highlighted the government’s remarkable dexterity in bending over backwards to ensure the the Lord of the Rings The TV show – currently known as “Unknown Amazon Project” – is said to be filmed in Aotearoa.
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It’s a path strewn with expensive dinners, urgent emails and glamorous holiday weekends, as officials from the Film Commission, NZ Tourism and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment buttered Amazon executives to strike a deal worth hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade.
But it also means the government is giving hundreds of millions of dollars in rebates to one of the world’s largest and richest companies.
Today on The detail, Emile Donovan sits down with Coughlan to discuss the machinations behind the golden handshake that secured the most expensive TV show in history – and whether the grant that facilitated it has exceeded its original goal.
“The New Zealand government was keen to have this photo taken here for a number of reasons.
“We like to be competitive in the film industry… we have funded hundreds of screen projects through our screen production grants.
“What makes this project different is that it takes place in the universe of The Lord of the Rings.
“All projects that go through this program are looked at from a tourism perspective – so tourism officials were very committed to this project. Because, of all the film projects the government has contributed to over the years, nothing quite like it The Lord of the Rings.”
While exact figures for the Amazon LOTR show are hard to come by, the company is expected to spend at least NZ $ 650 million, with more chances in the next few years if the show takes off.
This money will be pumped into the economy at large – providing jobs for digital effects workers, writers and actors, as well as caterers, hosting providers, and more.
However, he will get a lot of that money back in the form of discounts.
In order to attract foreign film productions, the New Zealand government is offering a 25% discount on all money spent in New Zealand – in this case, it will be over $ 150 million.
And while Amazon will always inject more than $ 400 million into the wider economy, that rebate money comes directly from government coffers.
All things considered, Coughlan’s calculations suggest the government will spend around $ 250 million per year to keep the rebate program in place – nearly quadruple what was spent 15 years ago.
It’s a classic case of profitability: there are costs and there are benefits – including, perhaps, New Zealand forming a working relationship with Amazon in the future – that could be a huge boon. .
But Coughlan says there’s a growing crackdown on discounting screen production.
“Everyone agrees it’s a rort,” he said.
“The irony is that the second largest claimant after the the Lord of the Rings is the Avatar aftermath and we will invest more money in a film about a false indigenous culture than in Maori television, which tells the stories of the indigenous culture of New Zealand and the real people.
“It doesn’t quite wash out.”