New Zealand Secures Film Sequels ; Sweetened Incentives Ensure 3 'Avatar' Movies Will Be Produced There

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Under a deal between the government and 20th Century Fox, taxpayers in the island nation will pay for 25 percent of three mega- budget "Avatar" sequels.

Under an agreement between New Zealand and 20th Century Fox, taxpayers there will pay for 25 percent of three mega-budget "Avatar" sequels in return for production jobs and a variety of perks.

The financial incentives announced on Monday -- a reversal from a government official's previous stance -- clear the way for Fox's delayed "Avatar" sequels, directed by James Cameron, to arrive in theaters in Christmas 2016, 2017 and 2018.

New Zealand has long offered eye-popping incentives to Hollywood as a way to attract film productions that will create jobs, generate revenue and enhance the country's reputation as a tourist destination.

The country pumped more than $200 million into the locally made "Lord of the Rings" and "Hobbit" movies and controversially rewrote a labor law to satisfy Warner Bros.

On Monday in Wellington, the capital, Prime Minister John Key outlined substantially greater financial help.

New Zealand will now return 20 percent of the production money that Hollywood studios spend in the country in the form of rebates, up from 15 percent. An extra 5 percent rebate will also be paid to film productions that carry "specific benefit" to the country, Mr. Key said. Fox has promised, for instance, to hold at least one of the "Avatar" sequel premieres in the country and include a New Zealand tourism video on DVDs and Blu-ray discs.

About 90 percent of live-action crew jobs are expected to be filled by Kiwis (motion-capture filming will be completed in the Los Angeles area, however). Visual effects will be principally completed at Weta, the Wellington-based studio owned by the director Peter Jackson and his wife and business partner, Fran Walsh. …


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