The Evening Post
February 14, 2000

NZ Film Earnings Near $1b
Phil Love

Earnings from making the movies Lord Of The Rings and The Vertical Limit could push New Zealand's annual film earnings close to a billion dollars this year.

The Screen Producers and Directors Association (SPADA) said its latest survey showed earnings from the production of film, TV and commercials would top $307 million to March 2000 - up 50 percent on the 1998-99 fiscal year.

Its survey, however, doesn't include Peter Jackson's Lord Of The Rings (estimated to be worth more than $350 million) nor The Vertical Limit (estimated at $120 million-plus) as filming didn't take place within the survey period. Neither does it include large amounts of in-house network product of new current affairs and sport.

SPADA chief executive Jane Wrightson said the survey showed the screen production industry was a high-growth prospect for the economy.

Foreign exchange earnings from screen production were up 67 percent, to $155 million annually.

As well as making large contributions to New Zealand's economy, overseas- funded films helped improve the skills of local film personnel, she said.

SPADA welcomed news that the Government was considering supporting a film investment fund. Prime Minister Helen Clark said the Government and New Zealand Film Commission were finalising a fund to help get more movie projects underway.