Several more overseas productions will join James Cameron’s Avatar sequels and Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog Netflix film in New Zealand in the coming months.
New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment has announced that Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings series, Netflix series Cowboy Bebop and Sweet Tooth, Peter Farrelly’s film Greatest Beer Run Ever starring Viggo Mortensen, and Power Rangers Beast Morphers series have been granted border exemptions.
A total of 206 foreign-based cast and crew from those productions, along with 35 family members, will be allowed to enter New Zealand in the next six months, according to MBIE manager immigration policy Sian Roguski, quoted by New Zealand’s Stuff. Additionally, 10 more Avatar crew – in addition to the 31 already in New Zealand – had been granted border exemptions. All new arrivals will be subject to self-quarantine.
Some preliminary work on The Lord of The Rings is underway in New Zealand. The series was close to wrapping the first two episodes when production shut down in mid-March. The original plan had been to go on hiatus after Episode 2 and resume filming in September, and I hear that remains the goal.
A couple of episodes into shooting its first season, Cowboy Bebop last fall went on a 7-9-month hiatus following a knee injury sustained by lead John Cho on the set of the show in New Zealand. I hear there is no production return day set yet but the series is expected to resume filming in the coming months.
After a coronavirus-related shutdown, production in New Zealand received a green light to resume in May when the country’s health and safety protocols were endorsed by the national government.
With strict restrictions, New Zealand has been able to practically eradicate COVID-19, and the country continues to keep its borders closed to fend off a potential new outbreak. That’s why getting a border exemption is a crucial step for any overseas production to be able to film in the country.
Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford on Wednesday announced a boost in funding for international and domestic film and television projects to the tune of more than $230 million.
“Our success at managing COVID-19 gives our country an opportunity to become one of the few countries still able to safely produce screen content,” he said at Parliament, per Staff. “And the inquiries and interest we are getting from international production houses tells me that the international film community sees New Zealand as something of a global safe haven.”
MBIE estimates that the productions cleared to film in New Zealand will create 3000 local jobs and bring in $400 million to the economy.