Kingdom Come film's deadline passes

ROSA STUDHOLME
Last updated 05:00 01/12/2011
kingdom come set

DREAM ENDS: Part of the Kingdom Come set.

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The beleaguered Biblical epic movie Kingdom Come, set to be filmed in part on the banks of Lake Benmore, looks unlikely to be resurrected, with the deadline for producers to pay debts of $4.4 million set for midnight last night.

The future of the film, which is based on the life of Jesus Christ, will now be in the hands of its creditors.

The producers were given until midnight to pay back the money still owing following liquidation proceedings in the High Court at Wellington last year.

Late yesterday, lawyer for the production company Stephen Brown said it was unlikely the debt would be paid on time.

"I hope [it will be paid]. I can't say I'm expecting it."

Shooting was set to begin in early 2009, but was abandoned when the production company, South Vineyard, ran into financial strife. The budget for the movie was $140m, most of which was to be spent in the South Island.

The High Court gave the company a year last December to pay its debts. At the time it owed $5.8m to 285 creditors. Over the past year $1.4m has been repaid over three instalments.

There were possible backers in the wings ready to fund the project, but that was still being finalised, Brown said.

"They think that they've got a backer. It's not signed or sealed yet, but we are looking at quite a short time frame [until it is available]."

However, he acknowledged the deadline for repayment had lapsed. "At midnight tonight creditors are free to take whatever action that is available to them," Brown said yesterday.

The production company was still committed to the project, he said.

There are two North Otago locations; one at Elephant Rocks near Duntroon, and a replica fishing village and harbour at Falstone camping ground on Lake Benmore.

The film was granted extensions in 2009 on land-use consents by the Waitaki District Council for the film sets.

Council consents manager David Campbell said the council would discuss with the production company its long-term plans before making a decision on consents.

If the company was put into receivership it would affect its ability to remove the film sets, which would cost thousands of dollars.

The company was responsible for removing the sets, he said.

"That was part of the original agreement.

"[But] we are prepared to give them as much opportunity as possible. It might be a bit premature to start pulling things down."

The sets were not causing any harm, although they were a distraction on the landscape, he said.

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- The Timaru Herald

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