Both taxpayers and ratepayers are backing a new film studio complex at Kumeu.

The facilities, which include giant tanks for filming water scenes, were left after the filming of Meg, a Warner Bros movie about a giant shark.

As well as New Zealand actor Cliff Curtis, the cast of Meg includes British action movie star Jason Statham and Chinese actor Li Bingbing.

There are two parts to public support for the Auckland developer which owns the site, Soft Technology JR. The firm, which has its registered office in Northcote, is owned by Sim Kim and Jewan Ryu.


Meg - estimated to have a budget of around US$150 million ($217m) - was filmed largely at Whangaparaoa and at the Kumeu site. The film is now in post-production.

New Zealand grants are based on the production's spending in this country, which is estimated at $100 million.

By leaving the tanks behind, the big-budget movie qualified for a 5 per cent financial bonus from the NZ Film Production Grant. The estimated $5 million boost is on top of the standard 20 per cent rebate on spending in New Zealand.

The 5 per cent boost is to support investment deemed to be good for New Zealand, and which can be used by other productions.

Among recipients of such support was the South Island production of Pete's Dragon, which was linked to a tourism promotional deal.

Meanwhile, the Auckland economic development agency Ateed is also heavily involved in development of the 27ha Kumeu site.

The Korean owners have agreed to build two sound stages that are badly needed to meet demand from productions filming here.

New Zealand Film Commission chief executive Dave Gibson says the owners had issues about the stability of demand for studio space.

Ateed - a council controlled organisation - is guaranteeing custom, though the terms of Ateed's agreement are not being released.

"As the studio's initial operator, Ateed is responsible for operational costs," the agency said in a statement.

"Where possible the costs are on charged to studio tenants as part of their proportional use."

Ateed will take a share of the revenue, alongside the Kumeu studio's private sector owners.

The Film Commission says the studios will be a big boost for the Auckland film and TV production industry.

The water tanks left by the Meg production will enable producers to film underwater, and will make New Zealand more attractive to producers, Gibson says.

He says Auckland is already very busy and the Kumeu studio is being used for TV and commercials. It has met 90 per cent of this year's minimum annual workload in just one month, says Gibson.

Bonus for Auckland

Ateed has long focused on film and TV as a growth area and claims the Kumeu deal will deliver "tens of millions" to the Auckland region.

Internationally, production markets are traditionally linked to the public sector providing incentives.

Last year, Auckland Council - backed by the Film Commission - sought overseas investment in a proposed film complex at Hobsonville. That project fell over because it could not attract enough private sector investment.

That deal was also complicated by political issues, because the land was earmarked for housing.

The film and TV production industry, which services overseas clients, will welcome the latest development. But overseas film production work has waxed and waned depending on issues such as the relative values of the American and New Zealand currencies.

That affects the viability of overseas productions coming here to use our good locations and flexible, non-unionised technical crews. One way around the varying demand is for taxpayers and ratepayers to take on some of the risk.

Ateed chief executive Brett O'Riley says the financial risk is low because Warner Bros and Chinese partners have agreed to promote the facilities internally and externally. The deal meant Ateed was now able to recover some financial costs for promoting Auckland as a film location.

Bauer cranky

Magazine publisher Bauer is rankled by the degree to which online publishers are using exclusive content from women's magazines. Chief executive Paul Dykzeul is at the point of challenging the level of content used by online media, says Sido Kitchin, editor of Bauer's magazine Woman's Day.

"If other media pinch our photos or too much text, we're quick to pick up the phone - which unfortunately is increasingly the case."

Star to the Max

The media creation of so-called "celebrities" is illustrated by the recent resurrection of Max Key - an unusual case where a women's mag featured a young, single male on the front page.

As a celebrity, the PM's son was largely the creation of former Herald on Sunday columnist Rachel Glucina.

A June 2016 photoshoot in Remix magazine set Max Key off as a media property in his own right, and more recently media have latched onto the theme of the 21-year-old breaking away from his Dad.

Woman's Day featured a topless Max emerging from the family pool, and Newshub devoted four-and-a-half minutes of prime time news to him.

Woman's Day editor Sido Kitchin says "after the wedding of Richie McCaw, our Max Key cover was our most talked about story in Woman's Day this year. Since his Dad resigned as PM, he's even more determined to carve a music career out for himself on his own terms, and good on him. Stephie Key is intriguing too."