Fact file: New Zealand screen industry

New Zealand converted the success of 'The Lord of the Rings' and 'The Hobbit' Trilogies into an international screen industry of substantial scale, with a reputation for excellence in screen production.

Here are the latest figures profiling the New Zealand screen industry.

Earnings and Exports: 

  • New Zealand’s high profile screen industry earned NZ$3.1 billion in 2012/13.
  • The industry supports 3000 businesses, over 95% of which are involved in production and post-production work.
  • North American screen production makes up between 88% of international screen revenue.
  • Over 1,600 television productions (including series and stand-alone) were completed in New Zealand in 2013.
  • Auckland businesses earned 79% of television production revenue, while Wellington businesses earned 81% of film revenue.

(Source - Statistics New Zealand Screen Industry Survey 2012/13)

Film industry successes:

  • The Lord of the Rings Trilogy set new industry benchmarks for blockbuster visual effects.
  • Together The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies have grossed nearly NZ$5000 million  at international box offices.
  • New Zealand has won more than 20 Academy Awards in the last decade.
  • New Zealand’s Jane Campion is one of only four female filmmakers to have been nominated for an Academy Award as best director (for The Piano in 1993) and the first female filmmaker in history to receive the Cannes Palme D’Or, also for The Piano. She has gone on to produce the acclaimed Top of the Lake television series, which has won numerous awards.
  • New Zealand has converted the success of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy into a major on-going international screen industry. Numerous international film and television productions have been made here in the last few years, including Spartacus, Emperor, Evil Dead, Slow West, The Light Between Oceans and the children’s television series Power Rangers.
  • Domestic successes in 2014 include What We Do In The Shadows, The Dead Lands, The Dark Horse and Housebound.

International filmmakers in New Zealand

International filmmakers who have chosen to work with New Zealand include:

  • James Cameron (Avatar)
  • Steven Spielberg (Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn)
  • Rob Tapert (Xena: Warrior Princess, Hercules, Spartacus, and Evil Dead the remake of the 80s cult classic The Evil Dead)
  • Barrie Osborne (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Water Horse)
  • Ed Zwick (The Last Samurai)
  • Martin Campbell (Vertical Limit)
  • Peter Webber (Girl with a Pearl Earring) shot his recent film Emperor in New Zealand starring Matthew Fox and Tommy Lee Jones.

Leading screen industry figures

New Zealand has a reputation for producing outstanding filmmakers, actors and technical brains.

Known personalities include:

  • Filmmaker Peter Jackson, whose productions include The Hobbit Trilogy, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, King Kong, The Lovely Bones, The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn
  • Sir Richard Taylor, creator and head of special effects company Weta Workshop 
  • Director Jane Campion, whose films include The Piano, The Portrait of a Lady, Holy Smoke, In the Cut and Bright Star, and recent television series Top of the Lake (shot in Queenstown in 2012)
  • Andrew Adamson - Shrek and Shrek 2 and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away, and Mr Pip
  • Lucy Lawless, the original Xena Warrior Princess and star of Spartacus
  • Academy Award-winner Anna Paquin, who stars in the HBO television series True Blood
  • Actor Sam Neill who has appeared in productions such as Jurassic Park, Reilly, Ace of Spies, Omen 111, The Final Conflict, The Hunt for Red October and The Tudors
  • Actor Martin Henderson, well known for his starring role in the television series Off the Map
  • Karl Urban, whose film credits include The Lord of The Rings, Star Trek, The Bourne Supremacy, Pathfinder and Dredd 
  • Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie (Flight of the Conchords). Bret McKenzie won an Oscar in 2012 for his original song ‘Man or Muppet’ in The Muppets film
  • Melanie Lynskey who plays Charlie and Alan’s neighbour Rose in the television show Two and a Half Men and has appeared in a wide range of films

New Zealand’s largest screen industry markets are USA, Asia and United Kingdom.