... The New Zealand film and TV business is thriving even without its signature [Tolkien] franchise, turning the land that once served as Middle-Earth into a host of brave new worlds.
Despite a dearth of hobbits on set, 2015 has been a record year for international productions. Feature films and TV series alike are lining up to shoot there.
The biggest player in New Zealand’s next phase is Lightstorm Entertainment’s trio of “Avatar” sequels. The original “Avatar” had a local qualifying spend of NZ$362.8 million ($246 million) with incentives worth $35.8 million, but producer Jon Landau says it is more than just the coin that prompted James Cameron and him to return to New Zealand.
“Jim is not going back because of the financial incentives,” Landau says. “It’s part of it, but he is going because of the labor pool and the creative talent that is down there. And I think that says something.” ...
Okay, it's not totally about the subsidies.
But this is a horse laugh. Without the subsidies, does anybody honestly believe the Avatar sequels would be down there? Or lots of other work for that matter. Because there are plenty of other locations waving green stuff under the conglomerates' noses: Canada. London. Georgia. To name but a few.
The underwriting entity, in this case Fox, would pretty much insist that Mr. Cameron go where the moolah is. Because a sound stage is a sound stage is a sound stage. And crews and actors can be imported, as can visual effects wizards.
So of course the money matters, it always does. Did we all just fall off the apple truck?
H/t VFX Soldier, who remarks: "Avatar Producer says its not all about subsidies yet demanded an increase last year or else they would leave."