Key wants to attract US TV productions

DANYA LEVY
Last updated 08:35 08/10/2012
John Key

MOVIE MAN: John Key with actresses Dana Delany, left, and Jeri Ryan.

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The Government is looking at lowering the threshold of its film subsidy to attract American television productions to New Zealand following the Prime Minister's trip to Hollywood.

John Key returned from Los Angeles yesterday after visiting television and film sets and attending a private dinner with the head of every major studio hosted by filmmaker James Cameron, who is moving to New Zealand.

New Zealand offers a 15 per cent rebate for major film productions over $15 million and studio bosses also want the subsidy raised to keep pace with the high New Zealand dollar. Last week Key said that was unlikely to be considered because he wasn't interested in a race to offer the top incentive.

However, today he said he had asked Film New Zealand to provide advice on lowering the $15m threshold so studios could produce television series in New Zealand.

"These series, once they commit to a place, they want to make it there for the long term and if they can't make the pilot, then they don't tend to make the series there," he told TVNZ's Breakfast programme.

"The big advantage of television is that the big movies, which they call temple movies, they are very lumpy, so they create a lot of demand but when that's not taking place you want to maintain that capability."

There would be some cost to the Government, Key said.

"We need to weigh that up against what that would do to demand. I can understand their point, I can see the barrier it creates for them."

Although National was opposed in principle to subsidies, it made an exception for the film industry.

"This is about jobs and the economy, and actually about really exciting jobs for young New Zealanders."

The Government re-wrote labour laws to redefine the definition of a film contract worker to keep the Hobbit film productions in New Zealand.

Key couldn't avoid the ongoing saga over MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom while in Hollywood. The German multi-millionaire was arrested in January and the US want to extradite him on copyright charges.

The Prime Minister apologised to Dotcom after it was revealed the Government Communications and Security Bureau unlawfully spied on him.

The issue was raised "in passing" by Motion Picture Association of America chief executive Chris Dodd who was an outspoken critic of Megaupload and a powerful lobbyist in the US.

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