Jason Momoa has some competition from his adoring Godzone fans coming to film in New Zealand early next year.
With the Hollywood strikes over, a plethora of productions are gearing up for a big year of shooting in NZ in 2024, including a Disney zombie movie.
Industry insiders tell Spy Momoa is due back in Auckland in early January to start production on Minecraft and Poor Things star Christopher Abbott is due in Wellington before May to film Wolf Man.
Also filming in the capital will be I, Object with Kiwi Hollywood big hitters Melanie Lynskey and Karl Urban.
Momoa has just been in London for the premiere of Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom and sources tell Spy he is looking forward to returning to New Zealand.
Momoa became a fixture on the local scene when he filmed his Apple series Chief of War in Northland last Summer. He wrapped filming in late June 2023.
But his love affair with the country kept going and he celebrated his 44th birthday in Queenstown in August, followed by watching his favourite sports team, the All Blacks, play Australia in Dunedin.
Minecraft, from production companies Warner Bros and Legendary, is the feature film take on the sandbox game developed by Mojang Studios - the second highest-selling videogame of all time. It revolves around the malevolent Ender Dragon setting out on a path of destruction, prompting a young girl and her group of unlikely adventurers to set out to save the Overworld. Last week entertainment bible Deadline reported that 21-year-old Netflix star Emma Myers was also starring in the film, which Momoa is working on as both a producer and talent.
Myers played Enid Sinclair on Netflix’s Wednesday, and is starring in the streaming giant’s Family Switch.
Also reportedly starring are Danielle Brooks of The Color Purple, and Sebastian Eugene Hansen of Lisey’s Story.
Golden Globe winner Ryan Gosling was due to film Wolf Man in Wellington but a last-minute casting change reported on Thursday saw him replaced by Christopher Abbott.
Wolf Man had been expected to reunite Gosling with The Place Beyond the Pines and Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance, but the movie will now be helmed by The Invisible Man filmmaker Leigh Whannell. Gosling reportedly remains on board as an executive producer, so a visit from him to Wellington could possibly be on the cards.
The new Wolf Man will follow Abbott as a man whose family is being terrorised by a lethal predator. Abbott can currently be seen opposite Emma Stone and Mark Ruffalo in the Golden Globe-nominated movie Poor Things.
Before cameras start rolling on Wolf Man, big expat names return home early next year to shoot in Wellington on Kiwi movie I, Object. Bafta-winning film-maker Andrew Niccol’s film is a story about a 10-year-old boy who takes refuge in the inanimate objects around him. It has US-based Melanie Lynskey making an exciting return to filming in NZ. Karl Urban and fellow Kiwis Jemaine Clement and Thomasin McKenzie have also been linked to the project.
The streaming giants will be back filming here next year, as Spy hears Disney is set to film Zombies 4 in West Auckland studios early next year. The franchise is a science fiction musical about aliens infiltrating high school, featuring a love story between a zombie football player and a human cheerleader, played by Milo Manheim and Meg Donnelly.
The last three movies are said to be among Disney+’s most successful streaming releases, with the third film featuring drag superstar RuPaul. A local casting call went out this week for kids and teens with high levels of acting, singing and dancing abilities for the movie.
Netflix, which has previously filmed Sweet Tooth and Cowboy Bebop on our shores, is said to have another yet-to-be-named big project set for production next year. Watch this space.