New Zealand Hints At Improving Offshore Production Incentives
New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key has agreed to consider changing the incentives for large scale productions to make them more attractive to offshore TV producers after being lobbied by Hollywood studio executives. The Large Budget Screen Production Grant provides a tax rebate of 15% but that requires a minimum spend of $NZ15M ($12.2M). Back home after a four-day visit to Los Angeles, Key said the studios wanted changes to the subsidy in relation to TV productions, telling Radio NZ “There’s a little bit of logic in what they’re saying, I can understand one of two of the issues, but we’ll need to go away and think those through carefully.” James Cameron, who shot Avatar in Wellington and plans to shoot the Avatar sequels in NZ, hosted Key’s visit. Cameron said Key also spoke about tweaking the incentives to mitigate the declining value of the U.S. dollar. Despite the exchange rate (the Kiwi dollar currently is worth US82 cents), the country has played host to Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit franchise, Andrew Adamson’s Mr. Pip, the Evil Dead remake and Peter Webber’s Emperor. – Don Groves
BBC To Investigate Child Abuse Allegations
As allegations of child sexual abuse by the late BBC TV presenter Sir Jimmy Savile continue to mount, the corporation’s Director General George Entwistle has promised to mount a full investigation. Savile, who presented popular shows for the BBC in the 60s and 70s, is accused of sexually molesting girls as young as 14 during the same period, with some incidents reported to have taken place on BBC property. Entwistle told Radio 4’s Today programme Monday that the corporation would investigate the matter only after the police had completed their investigation. “I think this has to be done in two phases,” he said. “First the police are given the chance to do everything they have to do – that is the only way justice can possibly be done for the women in question – then, we can take a look properly.” Last week, BBC current affairs show Newsnight was forced to defend its decision not to run a story about the allegations as rival broadcaster ITV aired an hour-long documentary interviewing several of the alleged victims. Entwisle said he was made aware of the allegations, and Newsnight’s investigation, in December. In a letter to staff last week he defended their decision to drop the story, saying it had been made “honestly and honorably” and that there was “no evidence to suggest that any pressure at all was placed on the Editor to reach it”. — Joe Utichi
P.J. Hogan’s ‘Mental’ Gets Lukewarm Reception Down Under
Mental, writer-director P.J. Hogan’s first Australian film since Muriel’s Wedding, rang up a so-so $A1.58 million ($1.6 million) including $500,000 in sneaks in its opening weekend in Oz. It was dwarfed by Taken 2 which amassed a staggering $7.78 million including previews, more than the lifetime total of the first Taken and ranking as Fox’s biggest opening of the year, beating Prometheus. Hogan’s comedy stars Muriel’s Toni Collette as a knife-wielding, pot-smoking hippie who’s hired as a nanny to take charge of five unruly sisters, all of whom have psychological issues. The film inspired by Hogan’s childhood also stars Anthony LaPaglia, Rebecca Gibney, Liev Schreiber and Kerry Fox. — Don Groves
ITV Acquires Tarinatalo
ITV has acquired Finnish producer Tarinatalo as part of its continuing efforts to build a strong international content business. Together with the recently acquired Norwegian indie Mediacircus, the acquisition provides ITV Studios, which already has a base in Sweden, with a production footprint in three of the Nordic countries. Tarinatalo specialises in factual entertainment, reality and lifestyle programming. It was also involved in co-producing the 2007 Eurovision song contest, which was held in Helsinki where the company is based. Tarinatalo will produce 50 hours of programming this year across 11 shows including the pilot game show What Was That? and long running, ratings hit Antiques, Antiques.
Pathé Launches Major Film Digitization, Restoration Project
The project will carried out over the next five years and will include over 100 movies from its catalog. Pathé owns over 700 feature-length productions including Patrice Chéreau’s Queen Margot (1992), Valmont by Milos Forman (1989), The Bear by Jean-Jacques Annaud (1988), and My Best Friend’s Girl by Bertrand Blier (1983). The catalog also contains a large number of silent movies including At 3:25 by René Clair (1923) and The Wheel by Abel Gance (1922). Pathé recently restored Roman Polanski’s Tess (1979), Marcel Carnés Children Of Paradise (1945), Raymond Bernard’ Les Misérables (1934) and Jean Renoir’s Boudu Saved From Drowning (1932). Most of the technical expertise for the work will come from Eclair Group and L’Immagine Ritrovata.
“Chopper” Read to Star In Australian Crime Movie
Mark “Chopper” Read, the ex-criminal whose colorful life was dramatized in Andrew Dominik’s Chopper, will play himself in The Hurtin’ Kind Part One: The Albanian, an Australian gangster movie based upon actual events. Read, who revealed in April that he has terminal liver cancer, will shoot his scenes in Melbourne next month. Peter Callas will direct that segment but another director will come on board to shoot the rest of the film in early 2013, according to a spokeswoman for producer Al Rama. Written by Frank Howson, the plot revolves around an Australian crim who heads to Los Angeles to collect a debt for his boss while trying to go straight. Played by Eric Bana in the Chopper movie, Read spent 23 years in jail for crimes including armed robbery, assault and kidnapping. - Don Groves