In welcome news for struggling tourism and hospitality providers, the New Zealand government is set to contribute $30 million towards a major expansion of Auckland Film Studios (AFS).
Funds will support a growing screen industry and local tourism businesses. As part of the funding package, Auckland Council, owner of AFS, will offer $5 million co-funding to support expansion in Henderson.
With AFS’s film credits including fan favourites such as The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Xena: Warrior Princess, the studio’s continued growth is promising for post-pandemic entertainment and travel.
“Auckland has established a strong reputation as a centre of excellence for film-making”, said Auckland mayor Phil Goff. “The new investment in film studios expands facilities to meet the international demand to make new screen content here and will bring tens of millions in expenditure and jobs to the Auckland area.”
Indeed, expansions will bring much-needed traffic to Auckland’s tourism and hospitality sector, providing relief as businesses attempt to recover from the effects of lockdowns and border closures.
“Estimates are for up to 300 new production-related jobs and hundreds of indirect jobs in businesses across the city that support the film industry. The film industry brings high-paid, high-skilled jobs and creates a profile for the city. It’s the sort of industry that Auckland wants to promote. The expansion of facilities created by the government grant, together with council support, means our region’s screen production capacity is significantly increased, and that’s great news for Aucklanders,” Phil Goff said.
Along with studio space, AFS will be investing in new stages, facilities, and infrastructure that make great film-making possible, and that’s not to mention boosts for nearby businesses. With government investment to support it, AFS is set to become an even more prominent player in the international screen industry.
“A much larger AFS facility will mean Auckland has another truly world-class option to host large-scale productions on a single studio site, or be able to host multiple small or mid-size projects at the same time. So the funding is hugely transformative for the region’s screen industry,” said Mayor Goff.
Initial design work for the AFS expansion was completed prior to the application. With funding now confirmed, final planning and preparation are underway, and construction is expected to start later this year.
As hospitality and tourism providers prepare to seize opportunities to move forward from the pandemic, AFS’s upcoming expansion is a symbol of hope, seeming to be the first step toward an entertainment- and travel-friendly future.