September’s announcements that Auckland is the production base for major television projects involving two of the world’s media company giants – Amazon Studios and Netflix – focused an unprecedented global spotlight on our region’s screen industry capability and ATEED’s role in attracting productions to Auckland and New Zealand.
The announcements were the culmination of many months' hard work by a special project team at ATEED, in collaboration with the New Zealand Film Commission, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the wider Council group and our world-class screen industry.
Our focus was ensuring Auckland could meet the producers’ studio production needs, and this required coordination of multiple sound stages and office and workshop spaces. On behalf of Council, ATEED negotiated licencing agreements which sets out the relationship between the producers and the region.
Each were hugely significant milestones for Auckland’s screen industry and our wider economy. Amazon’s project, based on The Lord of the Rings, is expected to be the world’s most expensive television series ever. Amazon’s project is still in development, but we expect the production will take place at a number of fit-for-purpose Auckland studios.
Just days prior to Amazon’s confirmation, global content producing giant Netflix announced it had chosen to shoot the first season of its live action series Cowboy Bebop in Auckland, based at an East Tamaki warehouse fitted out by Netflix to meet its studio needs under an initial two-year licence with ATEED, which has leased the site for screen production use for five years.
The production made a great start to principal photography in studio and on location, but unfortunately one of the movie’s stars – John Cho – got injured and Netflix had to postpone until he recovers.
We wish John well and look forward to seeing the Netflix team back at its sets in East Tamaki when the production picks up again. At its peak, Netflix’s production will employ a crew of more than 400.
Our focus has now shifted to ensuring Auckland fully leverages the tremendous opportunities having Netflix and Amazon based here brings for our creative industry, and also working with industry to make sure we have enough skilled workers to service current and future productions.
This extends beyond creative industries to trades such as carpenters and electricians, to caterers and security.
Having companies with the global reputation of Netflix and Amazon choosing to film major new series here is another huge vote of confidence in the quality of Auckland’s screen industry. These high-value productions will take our region’s screen production and post-production industry – which already earned a billion dollars a year in gross revenue – to a completely new level of economic value, jobs created, and international standing.