The Evening Post

February 26, 2000

Capital on Star Wars Casting Couch
Post Reporter

Wellington is to go on the casting couch for the third Star Wars " prequel" -- Mayor Mark Blumsky leaves tomorrow for Los Angeles to try and convince the movie's makers to film here.

Mr Blumsky and Waitakere Mayor Bob Harvey, whose city is also seeking a slice of the action, will be at the Location 2000 Expo in the Los Angeles Convention Centre this weekend, and will meet film executives to make their pitches.

The second Star Wars "prequel" will start shooting at Fox Studio Sydney in June. Australia pipped New Zealand at the post to have the movie filmed there.

Star Wars 3 is due for release in 2005.

Mr Blumsky said today he would also be meeting executives from Peter Jackson's $360 million Lord Of The Rings film project, asking them their plans for sites they have developed around Wellington.

He said it would be a shame if they were broken up when they could offer long-term tourism opportunities.

In the meetings, Mr Harvey will focus on the success of Xena: Warrior Princess, and Mr Blumsky will cite Lord Of The Rings as an example of Hollywood using the local industry.

The mayors will highlight the low cost of making films in New Zealand, then throw in the added bonus of spectacular locations.

Mr Harvey and Mr Blumsky will also meet other key Hollywood contacts at a function for 300 people at the New Zealand consulate in Los Angeles on Friday. The host will be New Zealand's Ambassador to the United States, former Prime Minister Jim Bolger.

Auckland film-maker Tim Coddington said New Zealand lacked the studio facilities to lure Star Wars 2 when its makers were "flirting" with the idea two years ago. He has arranged meetings for the mayors with key producers.

Mr Coddington, who will join the New Zealand delegation, said the trip was a start in trying to lure Star Wars here.