AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND (Friday 3 March, 2017) – New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC), Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), Warner Bros. Pictures and Gravity Pictures have partnered to form a new film studio in West Auckland, as a part of the New Zealand Screen Production Grants 5% uplift.
The studio facility in Kumeu was developed for the filming of director Jon Turteltaub’s MEG, upcoming science fiction action thriller slated for worldwide release beginning March 2, 2018 from Warner Bros. Pictures and Gravity Pictures.
ATEED has signed a long-term lease on the site, and will initially operate the studio complex. The lease includes a clause for the construction of a purpose-built soundstage. Screen Auckland, the region’s film office, is already fielding strong interest in Kumeu from international and domestic productions.
Upon completion of its new sound stage in 2018, Kumeu Film Studios will double Auckland’s screen studio infrastructure, which already offers a number of world-class assets. It will also provide a major transformational shift for the industry in Auckland, increasing the region’s capacity for large scale screen productions.
The studios are a significant asset for marketing Auckland and New Zealand internationally as a screen production destination, and will ultimately create more jobs and investment opportunities for the region.
The privately owned 27ha site includes the first two film studio water tanks ever built in New Zealand: an indoor 5m deep, 1.3 million litre dive tank with pure heated water; and an outdoor 3m deep, 2.5 million litre ocean horizon tank backed by an 864 sq m green screen wall.
The studio also has a 4,036m2 sq m soundstage, production offices, a sought-after forested back lot, and a workshop and manufacturing space.
Kumeu Film Studios provided the ideal environment for the large-scale production of MEG, which was filmed in Auckland last year. The film stars English actor Jason Statham (Spy, Furious 7, The Expendables films) and Chinese actor Li Bingbing (Transformers: Age of Extinction, Forbidden Kingdom, The Message) and is a true Hollywood/China co-production.
Barrie Osborne, executive producer of Meg, stated, “It is great to have an additional facility in New Zealand; a place I know well. I love to produce films there. The crews are innovative, enthusiastic, a collaborative group of technicians. On each film I’ve produced with them, I have found they all share a common interest and that’s to make the best film possible.”
The MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) between the partners supports the provisional approval of the New Zealand Screen Production Grants 5% Uplift. “This private and public sector partnership recognises the significant economic, cultural and industry development benefits that MEG will bring to New Zealand,” says NZFC Chief Executive Dave Gibson.
While the production of Meg taking place in New Zealand broadens the perception of the screen industry by showcasing Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf and the depth of New Zealand cast and crew, the key component of significance to Auckland and New Zealand relates to the Kumeu Film Studios.
ATEED Chief Executive Brett O ‘Riley says: “While Auckland currently attracts large-scale production through its world class crew, production talent and locations our full potential has been hampered by a lack of studio space, until now. This landmark partnership, which has secured Kumeu Film Studios, signals an exciting new era for screen production in Auckland and strengthens New Zealand’s screen production offering in the global marketplace.”
Meg has now wrapped in New Zealand and is scheduled to open in kiwi theaters in February 2018.
A deep-sea submersible - part of an international undersea observation program - has been attacked by a massive creature, previously thought to be extinct, and now lies disabled at the bottom of the deepest trench in the Pacific…with its crew trapped inside. With time running out, expert deep sea rescue diver Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) is recruited by a visionary Chinese oceanographer (Winston Chao), against the wishes of his daughter Suyin (Li Bingbing), to save the crew from this unstoppable threat: a pre-historic 75-foot-long shark known as the Megalodon. What no one could have imagined is that, years before, Taylor had encountered this same terrifying creature. Now, teamed with Suyin, and with the help of Mac (Cliff Curtis) operation chief of Manu One and long term kiwi friend, he must confront his fears and risk his own life to save everyone trapped below…bringing him face to face once more with the greatest and largest predator of all time.
In addition to Jason Statham and Li Bingbing, the international main cast includes New Zealander Cliff Curtis (The Dark Horse, Risen, TV’s Fear the Walking Dead), Rainn Wilson (TV’s The Office, Super), Ruby Rose (xXx: Return of Xander Cage, TV’s Orange is the New Black), Winston Chao
(Skiptrace, Kabali), Page Kennedy (TV’s Rush Hour), Jessica McNamee (The Vow, TV’s Sirens), Ólafur Darri Ólafsson (The BFG, TV’s The Missing), Robert Taylor (Focus, TV’s Longmire), Sophia Shuya Cai (Somewhere Only We Know), and Masi Oka (TV’s Hawaii Five-0, Heroes).
Meg is directed by Jon Turteltaub (the National Treasure movies, Last Vegas) from a screenplay by Dean Georgaris and Jon Hoeber & Erich Hoeber, based on the New York Times best-selling book by Steve Alten. Lorenzo di Bonaventura (the Transformers films), Belle Avery (Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead) and Colin Wilson (Suicide Squad, Avatar) are producing the film, with Wayne Wei Jiang, Randy Greenberg, Barrie M. Osborne and Gerald R. Molen serving as executive producers. The film will be distributed in China by Gravity Pictures during Chinese New Year 2018, and throughout the rest of the world by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Entertainment Company, slated for release beginning March 2, 2018.
About the New Zealand Film Commission
The New Zealand Film Commission invests in original and culturally significant films, encourages talented New Zealand filmmakers through developing career pathways and facilitating connections offshore, and works to increase the number of people seeing New Zealand films here and overseas. It is responsible for marketing New Zealand’s screen production industry overseas and attracting international screen productions to New Zealand. The NZFC supports the growth of economic activity and helps ensure New Zealand has sustainable screen sector businesses operating within an internationally competitive screen sector. The NZFC also helps negotiate co-production treaties and is responsible for administering the New Zealand Screen Production Grant, the Post, Digital and Visual Effects Grant and the 5% Uplift, and for certifying official co-productions and New Zealand films for tax purposes.
About Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development
ATEED is an Auckland Council-controlled organisation and the region’s economic growth agency. Specialists within ATEED’s Screen Auckland team lead the attraction of international screen productions to Auckland, and help productions – from feature films to TVCs – achieve their objectives by assisting with location scouting, studio booking, and film permits in public open spaces. ATEED is connected to other regional film offices within New Zealand.