The New Zealand government Thursday announced changes to its screen production grants in a bid to draw more big film and television productions to the country.
The main change from Aug. 1 is the halving of the expenditure threshold for the Post, Digital and Visual Effects Grant to just 500,000 NZ dollars (331,750 U.S. dollars) in order to qualify for a rebate of 20 percent or 25 percent if a production passes a significant economic benefits test.
Film productions can still qualify for the grants if they meet an expenditure threshold of 15 million NZ dollars (9.96 million U. S. dollars) and television productions if they meet a threshold of 4 million NZ dollars (2.65 million U.S. dollars).
The changes came about after a one-year review of the New Zealand Screen Production Grant (NZSPG), which was introduced in April last year.
The NZSPG had resulted in a rising number of productions in New Zealand and the New Zealand Film Commission was expected funding applications to triple, Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce said in a statement.
"These productions demonstrate a wider breadth of local content than before, which will lift international perception of New Zealand's culture and creativity," Joyce said.
"In addition we have seen a record year for international productions shooting in New Zealand including Walt Disney Pictures ' Pete's Dragon, Dreamworks' Light Between Oceans, The Weinstein Company's Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon II, and Saban Brand's Power Rangers."
"These international productions will provide marketing opportunities for New Zealand around the world, and also increase our visibility as a screen production location. Several international studios have chosen to film here as a result of competitive factors like the incentive, our current exchange rate, our skilled workforce and attractive shooting locations." Joyce said.
The review by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment cited The Hobbit Trilogy as an example of "spill-over benefits" from the screen sector.
It said 14 percent of holiday visitors to New Zealand had chosen the three-film set as one of the factors that first stimulated their interested in visiting the country.
"Seeing the scenery depicted in the films or wanting to see if the scenery was like it was in the films, were the two main factors that encouraged these visitors to consider visiting New Zealand," said the review.