Gerry Brownlee is defending the $45 million tax break the Government gave the makers of Avatar to do most of their special effects work here.
“Attracting large budget film productions here offers wider benefits to the economy, including increased opportunities for New Zealanders as well as tourism benefits from having New Zealand locations shown to an international audience”
Yeah, Gerry. The scenes set on Pandora were shot just out of Gore, weren’t they?
I’m not against some tax attractions for movies. I know we have to compete because everyone gives film tax breaks and it can move countries much more easily than other businesses but it just seems excessive.
It is assumed that the Large Budget Screen Production Grant helped Weta to become the world-leader in special effects that it is and brought lots of business here . But it turns out it is far from clear that the benefits to the country outweigh the cost becuase the films would have come to Weta anyway – it’s not like James Cameron was spoilt for choices of companies that can do cutting edge special effects. At any rate, I would have thought Weta was now in a position where it could largely stand on its own two feet.
At least, the hand-out from the taxpayer could be smaller. I mean, they spend $300 million here and we give them a 15% kickback? Gee, I’m sure some New Zealand exporters would love that kind of assistance. Or, perhaps, there could be some percentage deal to recoup some of the money from the film’s box-office takings if it exceeds a certain amount. It seems pretty crazy that a film which has grossed $2 billion in five weeks got money from any government.
PS. Where’s James of Editing the Herald when you need him: “Avatar recently won big at the Golden Globe awards and is on track to be the biggest grossing movie of all time, having sold more than $1.6 billion of tax credits.” It has said that for 22 hours at the time of writing. Does no-one from the Herald read the Herald?