Drop-off in movie making sinks screen industry revenue

Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit. The trilogy has been important for tourism in New Zealand.
Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit. The trilogy has been important for tourism in New Zealand.

The New Zealand screen industry's revenue dropped 4 percent in 2013, from a record high in 2012, as decline in production of feature films more than offset gains from local television and movie theatres.

Total revenue for the sector was $3.15 billion in 2013, down from $3.29 billion a year earlier, according to Statistics New Zealand. The screen industry includes feature films, production, television broadcasting, distribution and movie screenings.

The production and post-production sector contracted 12 percent to $1.46 billion in 2013, while broadcasting, which makes up 44 percent of the industry's total revenue, was $1.38 billion, up from $1.31 billion the previous year. Declines in production sales were largely attributable to a 17 percent drop in gross revenue for feature films.

Overall funding flowing through to the sector declined 7.7 percent to $585 million, as a nominal 1 percent gain in New Zealand government funding was overshadowed by a 17 percent decline in overseas investment received for production.

Combined broadcasting and film screening eclipsed the size of production revenue by 6 percent in 2013, as the content-producing side of the sector was impacted by the "lumpy" nature of the project-based film industry, Statistics NZ said.

"While revenue has fallen this year, it reached a record high in 2012 - this shows the project-based nature of the industry," said Jason Atwell, screen industry statistics manager at Statistics NZ. "Funding for a project leads to a spike in revenue, which drops once the project is completed."

The broadcasting and screening sector also caters more to a domestic audience and gains made by those businesses indicate Kiwis are consuming more media, Statistics NZ said. Increases in broadcasting also capture a rise in digital media.

"Exhibition revenue has been steadily increasing over the past four years," said the government's data collector. "Some of this could be a result of 3D technology making a visit to the cinema an experience with added depth in an age where streaming movies at home is becoming easier."

Auckland remained the centre for television broadcasting and production, with Auckland-based business bringing in gross revenue of $1.37 billion worth of television broadcasting.

The nation's capital remains the film-making hub, with gross revenue of $748 million, half the sector's total earnings, coming from Wellington production and post-production companies. Of that, $700 million came directly from feature films.

- NZ Herald

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